Stephansdom: History (1300 – 1600)

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Albertine choir (14th century)

Albertine choir, the part of today’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral east of the transepts, has its name by Albert (or Albrecht) I of Habsburg, the king of the Romans and Duke of Austria. It was him who ordered the construction of a new Gothic three-naved choir outside the contemporary church in 1304. Though he died four years later, the work continued under his son Albert II and was completed and consecrated on 23 April 1340, exactly on the day of the 77th anniversary of the consecration of the Romanesque church in 1263.

The middle nave of the Albertine choir is dedicated to St. Stephen and All Saints, the north nave is decorated by motifs of St. Mary, and the south nave depicts the Apostles.

Construction of the towers (14th-15th century)

In 1365 Rudolf IV the Founder established a chapter of canons which paved St. Stephen’s way to becoming a cathedral. Three years later in 1368 the construction of the south tower, today’s highest point of the Cathedral, was started. The construction of the 137 metre (448 ft) high tower took 65 years and was finished in 1433, making St. Stephen’s Cathedral the 3rd highest church in the world at the time of its completion.

By this time, the entire structure of the old church had been removed from the Cathedral after it was entirely encapsulated by the newly built Gothic extension of the Albertine choir. Later the vaulting of the nave was completed in 1474.

Construction of the north tower started in 1450. The original intention was to make it identical to the south tower, but this ambitious plan was abandoned after most works on the Cathedral were interrupted in 1511. After Gothic was replaced by Renaissance as the most popular style, the north tower got a cap in 1578 and its final height came to 68 metres (223 ft), about half that of the south tower.

Bishopric (15th century)

In the 15th century Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, who has his tomb in the Stephansdom, played a key role in persuading Pope Paul II to grant Vienna the right to have own bishop, who would be appointed by the emperor. On 18 January 1469 the Diocese of Vienna was canonically established and St. Stephen’s Cathedral became its mother church. The foundation of the Viennese diocese had been long opposed by the Bishop of Passau, who was unwilling to give up his control of Vienna.