Karlskirche - St Charles Church, Vienna

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Vienna's famous baroque church

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  • the portico
    the portico
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  • the cupola of Karlskirche
    the cupola of Karlskirche
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  • Karlskirche
    Karlskirche
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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Roman Inspiration : Karlskirche

    by von.otter Updated Feb 5, 2008

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    Karlskirche, Vienna, December 2001
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    “Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.”
    — Saint Charles Borromeo (1538–1584)

    Master of the Baroque in Vienna, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach looked to Ancient Rome and Renaissance Rome for the elements that he so skillfully combined in 1715 to create Karlskirche (the Church of St. Charles).

    To give thanks to God for delivering Vienna from plague that swept the city in 1713, Emperor Karl VI made a vow to build a church dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo. As Archbishop of Milan Our Saint had ministered to those sick and dying of plague in his city in 1576.

    The two free-standing front columns are decorated with scenes from Our Saint’s life. The left column shows his steadfastness, the right illustrates his courage. Both were inspired by Trajan’s Column in Rome. The triangular pediment and columns of the front porch are designed after Rome’s Pantheon. And the dramatic green copper, 236-foot high dome pays homage to St. Peter’s; Karlskirche is a landmark on the Viennese skyline.

    The Angel of the Old Testament is to the left of the front steps; the Angel of the New Testament stands to the right (see photos #2 and #3).

    This church is quite visible, standing as it does outside the narrow quarters of the center of the city, with land surrounding it, its many splendid elements can be better appreciated.

    And to Heaven On the high altar San Carlo is assumed into Heaven with hosts of angels to guide his way (see photo #5). Our Saint is the patron of apple orchards, catechists, seminarians, and starch makers; he’s invoked against stomachaches and ulcers.

    Now here’s a thought: the same artist, Lorenzo Mattielli, who created this masterpiece also carved those rock-hard muscular Hercules in front of the Michaelertrakt! (see von.otter’s Vienna travelogue “Hercules in Stone” for photos)

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  • wadekorzan's Profile Photo

    Don't miss the Karlskirche (Charles Church)

    by wadekorzan Written Jan 1, 2009

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    Karlskirche at night with the Christmas Market

    The Karlskirche (Charles Church) is located very close to the subway stop called "Karlsplatz", along the subway line U1. The church is absolutely amazing, but more from the outside than from the inside. It's really worth just to go to the big square in front of the church--there's a big round fountain in front of it--and jus sit there and admire the architecure from the outside. Especially nice is the reflection of the church in the fountain in front--really a great place to sit and reflect, literally! The most amazing aspect of the church exterior are the two massive columns, built as a replica of the Trajan's column in Rome.

    The church was finished in 1730 and was built after the emperor, Charles VI, had made a promise he made that he would build the church if the Black Plague would leave the city.

    Important tip: If you go inside, don't expect too much! Otherwise, you'll be disappointed--as the exterior of the church is much more ornate than the interior!

    Opening hours:
    Monday - Saturday: 09:00 - 12:30, 13:00-18:00.
    Sunday and holidays: 12:00 - 17:45.
    Last entrance possible at 17:30.

    One important tip:

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  • PetraG's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche - Vienna's famous baroq church

    by PetraG Written Jun 15, 2004

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    The building of Karlskirche was started in 1715 following plans of one of the most famous Austrian Baroque architects, Johann Fischer von Erlach. The church is spectacular. It is the biggest cathedral in Baroque style north of the Alps.

    Initially, the church was build to honor the vows of Emperor Karl VI. given in the time of a severe plague epidemic. It was dedicated to saint Karl Borromeo.

    An unusually wide front is composed of a number of contrasting elements which surprisingly add up to a unique and harmonic overall image. Two colums with an allegoric representation of the life of saint Borromeo are reminiscent of Italian Renaissance Trajan colum. They frame the main portal which resembles a Greek temple. The oval nave of the church is topped by an eye-catching dome (72 m high) spectacularly painted at the inside.

    The church is situated at one of Vienna's central nodes, spacious 'Karlsplatz'. The area in front of Karlskirche was redesigned in the 1970s by one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century: Henry Moore. His artwork 'Hill Arches' adornes an oval water basin which reflects the church building.

    If you take the tube (U4 or U2) you can admire one of Otto Wagner's art deco tube stations. Secession museum is another famous sights closeby where Karslplatz meets Naschmarkt!

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  • Manara's Profile Photo

    Beautiful baroque

    by Manara Updated Oct 12, 2009

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    Karlskirche

    The beautiful Karlskirche is the only church I will mention, for the simple reason that it is not within the Ring. The other most beautiful churches of Vienna are in that area, so they are virtually impossible to miss.
    The St. Karl it is dedicated to is actually an Italian, San Carlo Borromeo, from the aristocratic family that owned the beautiful little islands in the Lago Maggiore.
    Built in the baroque style, it has an unusual feature in the two big columns, modelled on the example of the Trajan Column in Rome.

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  • TexasDave's Profile Photo

    Detail of Karlskirche

    by TexasDave Updated Nov 5, 2004

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    Center of High Altar, Karlskirche

    An impressive detail overlooked by many, with so much ornate "baroqueness". In the very center of the high altar there appears the "tetragrammaton", or YHWH, which is how God's name, Jehovah, was written in ancient Hebrew.

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  • fishandchips's Profile Photo

    Church of St Charles

    by fishandchips Written Jan 23, 2006

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    Church of St Charles

    Emperor Charles VI vowed to build this church if the black plague stopped. Construction on Karlskirche, dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, began in 1716. Rottmayr painted many of the frescoes inside the church. The green copper dome is 72m (236 ft.) high, a dramatic landmark on the Viennese skyline. Two columns, spinoffs from Trajan's Column in Rome, flank the front of the church, which opens onto Karlsplatz. There's also a sculpture by Henry Moore in a little pool. All in all it is a very interesting place to visit.

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  • Imbi's Profile Photo

    Sculpture

    by Imbi Updated Nov 17, 2003

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    Near Karlsplatz St. Charles’ Church I situated and in front of this beautiful church, this beautiful sculpture inviting every passer-by to have a look and praise for its designer.
    It attracts more people than anything else in the surrounding area. Vienna is full of this type of beautiful modern art but the only thing is that it takes time for one to understand them.

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    Playing area

    by Imbi Updated Nov 17, 2003

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    Another very interesting thing in front of St. Charles’ Church is this playing area for kids.
    Its wonderful idea that parents could walk around and have look the area and kids could have fun time in this area. One thing i notice that there are plenty of children playing fields in VIenna for safe and healthy atmosphere

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  • Paul2001's Profile Photo

    The Karlskirche

    by Paul2001 Written Jul 22, 2003

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    The Karlskirche

    The Karlskirck is Vienna's most famous baroque church. It is especially notable for the green copper dome that soars 236 feet high. The interior is typically decorated in the eloborate, almost over the top, baroque manner. Also quite famous are the two exterior columns that are at the entrance of the church. They are supposed to be variations of Roman columns of ancient times.
    The church was begun in 1716 by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach and completed in 1737 by his son Joseph Emanuel.

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  • gubbi1's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche

    by gubbi1 Written Jun 21, 2010

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    Karlskirche, Vienna, AT
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    The Karlskirche is a very beautiful church. Already before coming to Vienna I have seen it in my guide and thought that I need to see it in real life.
    During the plague in 1713, which killed about 8000 people in Vienna, Karl VI. swore that he would order the construction of a church devoted to the plague saint if the plague would disappear. The following year the plague stopped and in 1717 the foundation was set for the Karlskirche. In 1733 the church was ready. The Karlskirche is the second most important and largest church of Vienna after the Stephansdom. The highest point in the cuppola is 82 meters above ground. The reliefs on the columns show scenes of the life of Karl, the plague saint.
    Entering the Karlskirche you will need to pay a small fee, which is used for restauration of the church. Inside the church a (slightly disturbing) elevator gives you the unique chance to get very close to the cuppola. The elevator was left after restaurations.
    I recommend to visit this church!

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  • mary2u99's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche

    by mary2u99 Updated Mar 23, 2006

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    Karlskirche
    2 more images

    Karlskirche is the famous baroque church in Vienna and was built to honor Saint Borromeo. The project was of Johann Fischer von Erlach.

    In winter there is the Christmas market (Christkindlmarkts) and it was worth a visit especially to warm yourself with some 'Gluhwein' which is bursting with spicy flavors. The Christmas markets also have some wooden handcrafted gifts, food like sausages, pretzels, gingerbread, nuts and etc.

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  • mel_bee's Profile Photo

    KARLSKIRCHE - ST CHARLES CHURCH

    by mel_bee Updated May 30, 2003

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    The church at sunset

    St. Charles’ Church is the most beautiful baroque church in Vienna. It was built in the 18th century by the famous architect Johann Bernhard Fischer and his son Joseph Emanuel and was built to St. Charles Borromeo after the plague. The church has an impressive 70 Meter high dome framed by two columns which are nearly 40 Metres high. Inside the dome is a fresco by Tottmayr. Check out the interesting altar as well. To get there go to Karlsplatz (or Oper - U1/2/4; 62/65/1/2/D/J trams; 4a and 59a buses)

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  • Maggies's Profile Photo

    KARLSKIRCHIE

    by Maggies Written Feb 25, 2003

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    KARLSKIRCHIE is one of the best samples of the Baroque architecture in Vienna. This church was constructed in first half of XVIIIth century. In front of the church you can see a sculpture by Henry More - that's the one I'm sitting on with my friend from primary school. Well, this picture was taken back in 1992.

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  • pili's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche

    by pili Updated Oct 19, 2003

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    Karlskirche

    This church was built to honor Saint Charles Borromeo and thank God for delivering Vienna from the plague.
    Two colums with an allegoric representation of the life of saint Borromeo are reminiscent of Italian Renaissance Trajan colum.-
    Inside it is brightly lit in comparison to the Stephansdom. In my opinion is the most beautiful church in Vienna.-

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  • Tolik's Profile Photo

    Karlskirche

    by Tolik Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Karlskirche

    Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles Borromeo)
    is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, which features a gigantic dome; a portico modeled on a Greek temple; 2 minaret-like columns (covered with spiraling relieves depicting the life of St. Charles Bartolomeo), which were actually inspired by Trajan’s column in Rome; and 2 gatehouses resembling Chinese pavilions.

    The interior of the cathedral is overwhelmingly beautiful. It contains altarpieces by Daniel Gran and Martino Altomonte and extraordinary high altar showing St. Charles Bartolomeo being asumed into heaven.

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