St Stephen’s cathedral is regarded as the most important Gothic building in Austria and is Vienna’s most salient landmark.
Dedicated to St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, the church has been the seat of a bishop since 1469 and that of an archbishop since 1722. The present appearance of the cathedral is dominated by structures dating from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries.
The Habsburgs played a significant role in the building of and later alterations to the cathedral, foremost among them Duke Rudolf IV, who extended St Stephen’s on a large scale as part of his political and dynastic programme.
The ducal crypt in the cathedral was the most important tomb of the rulers of the Habsburg lands until well into the sixteenth century. Important artistic monuments include the cenotaph of Rudolf IV, which has been only fragmentarily preserved, and the tomb of Emperor Frederick III.