01 April 2010

Amy & Amanda St. Stephansdom

We decided to leave the toddlers home with dad and I took Amy and Amanda over to Stephansplatz for a walk around the area, and a catacomb tour.

Here are the girls outside the Stephansdom cathedral, which is in the middle of being cleaned on the outside. We found a side that wasn't covered in scaffolding to pose for a picture.

Look at the huge difference the cleaning makes! I can't believe that the building can be as white as the top of the tower, I am so used to seeing it all black and dirty. The girls thought it was pretty strange that they need to clean it, and asked why it is so dirty. It was originally built in the 1100s, then added onto many times over the years through the 1500s. So it makes sense that it could collect a lot of dirt in that amount of time...

Here we are inside the church. We walked around for awhile admiring the inside. We got there an hour before the catacomb tour started, so we had some time to really explore the cathedral.

I think it is strange to see the huge iron gates across the middle of the church - but at least the gates are pretty...

Some of the stone carvings in Stephansdom are incredibly ornate, I am impressed with all the intricate details carved into the stone.

Little people carved into the stone. After walking around the cathedral and the grounds outside, we headed over to the tour. Unfortunately no pics allowed, but it was a super interesting tour, I highly recommend it. First we got to see the area where the organs of emperors and empresses are. Apparently their bodies are buried in one church, their hearts in another, and their organs are here in large urns. Then we walked down into the underground passages where the old mass graves are. We saw one that was a huge pit in the ground that was accessed by a hole on the street to dump in the bodies of people who died of the plague. I know I won't get the plague, but I still felt a little creeped out looking in the pit... While excavating some of the areas under the church, there was an old Roman era coffin found that is at least 1500 years old. This area was apparently used as a religious site for a very very long time. The best part of the tour was just walking along all the freezing cold creepy passageways that extend outside the walls of the church and under the streets above. There are many catacombs that are not seen in the tour too, so the entire Stephansplatz area is built over gravesites. Hmm. Creepy.

After leaving the cathedral we walked along the Graben, a famous shopping street. We stopped to watch some street musicians playing these huge horns. Very interesting music. We also got a chance to go to St. Peter's but didn't take any pics, we just sat and enjoyed all the paintings. What a great afternoon!

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