Stephansdom: Outside Walls

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Black or white

The cathedral was built of limestone and the original colour of its outside walls was white. However, air pollution and soot accumulating on the Cathedral turned its colour to black over time. The restoration works which are under process in these years should gradually return Stephansdom to white again.

Standard measures on the wall

To the left from the main entrance of St. Stephen’s Cathedral embedded in the outside wall there are two brass ells. Ell is an old measurement unit (roughly the distance between shoulder and elbow), used mostly for measuring cloth, linen, or drapery in the past. The ells marked on the Stephansdom represented the approved standard for all traders in Vienna: the Viennese yard used for linen (89.6 cm) and the drapery ell (77.6 cm). The oldest information about these ell marks on the Stephansdom occured in a book written in 1685.

There is another standard measure marked on the Cathedral’s wall on the other side, this time for size of loaves of bread.