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St. Charles’s Church

This architecturally unique edifice has splendid frescoes and altars under its magnificent dome. It also houses a small museum. 

Approach St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirche) from the Karlsplatz and you’ll immediately notice the striking combination of architectural elements. The Viennese Baroque dome and towers are mixed with a Greek portico and Romanesque columns, making this one of the most visually diverse churches in Vienna. See items belonging to bygone saints in the church’s small museum or ride the elevator up into the dome to see a series of famous frescoes up close.

In 1713 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI vowed to build a church for his namesake patron saint, Charles Borromeo, if Vienna was saved from the fast-spreading plague. It was, and construction was started a few years later by Johann Bernhard Fischer Von Erlach. After the architect died, his son completed the job in 1739. The resulting combination of styles is quite striking, even today. 

The 236-foot (72-meter) copper dome certainly casts an impressive figure on Vienna’s skyline, but it is when you get close to the Karlskirche that its various exterior elements become really interesting. Stare up at the high Roman columns with small Baroque domes and see the reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Charles Borromeo. Don’t miss the sculpture by Henry Moore in front of the church. 

Step inside to find huge marble walls and columns, with countless gilded and painted ornaments. You can pay to take the Panoramalift up into the dome and then climb the staircase to examine its frescoes up close. These are the work of the famous artist Johannes Michael Rottmayr. Also explore the Borromeo Museum, where you’ll find artifacts like the traveling clothes of this former Bishop of Milan.

Check locally to find out whether the church’s regular Saturday evening performance of the Mozart Requiem on period instruments will be held during your stay. If it is happening, don’t miss it.

St. Charles’s Church is centrally located near Karlsplatz, at the southeast corner of Resselpark, and can be reached on foot or by bike, car or public transportation. The church is open daily, but also accessible for sightseeing on Sunday mornings. 

Popular Activities at St. Charle's Church

Would you like to make your stop at St. Charle's Church even more memorable? Don't miss the chance to try out one or two of these activities:

When organizing your excursion, you may want to consider purchasing a Vivaldi's The Four Seasons Concert at St. Charles's Church or a Mozart Requiem Concert at St. Charles's Church.

For many more things to do, peruse our Vienna things to do page.


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