One of Stephansdom cathedral’s unique attractions is its multi-coloured roof. Unfortunately, being a roof, it’s…well…quite high up. That’s where the North Tower comes in.
- A lift takes you up over 60m
- Views to the north, east and west
- Get close to the cathedral’s roof tiles
- …and to the famous 21t Pummerin bell
- Consider an all-inclusive option for multiple cathedral attractions
- Book full cathedral tickets* (with Dom Museum) online
- But check the cathedral calendar for days when entry times may be restricted
- See also:
Inside the Tower
(The north tower is on the left)
Construction on the North Tower began around 1450, but its completion took almost 130 years thanks to budget problems (they needed city money for more pressing concerns, like keeping the Ottoman Empire outside the city walls).
A small lift runs up to a stone viewing platform that surrounds the bottom of the green-domed bell house that caps the tower.
The open-air platform gives you views in various directions. However, the cathedral roof blocks the south and southwest.
This hindrance is actually positive, since you get a perfect close-up look at the multi-coloured mosaic tiling that went in after WWII to replace the original Gothic roof lost to fire.
You do still get views across much of Vienna, and large labelled photos allow you to understand what you’re seeing.
You can see across to the Prater area and the famous Riesenrad Ferris wheel, various churches (e.g. Votivkirche, Jesuitenkirche, Franziskanerkirche), and newer buildings like the DC Tower or Wien Mitte station building. Catch glimpses of Belvedere and the Rathaus too.
If you’re just interested in the cityscape, then the cathedral’s South Tower offers clearer views in all four directions from its observation chamber. However, you have to work a bit harder to get up top: it has no lift and 343 steps. Nor does the South Tower offer quite such wonderful views of the roof.
Another advantage of the North Tower is getting almost within touching distance of the famous Pummerin bell that the viewing platform surrounds.
As one of the largest free-hanging bells in the world, the Pummerin weighs in at over 21 tonnes with a height of almost 3m.
This bell “only” dates back to the early 1950s. Its 1711 predecessor fell and shattered during a fire at the end of WWII, but they used the remains to construct the new one.
The Pummerin rings out on special occasions (like Easter or the death of a Pope). Indeed, most of Austria holds its collective breath at 11.59pm on December 31st and waits for the Pummerin to ring in the New Year on radio and TV.
Tickets & visitor tips
Adults pay €6.00 to go up at the time of writing with tickets available at a counter next to the lift. The latter has an attendant, so simply wait at the bottom (or top) for them to arrive and beckon you inside.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
(NB: Check the cathedral calendar for occasional service-related limits on visiting times)
A few tips:
- Tall, mesh fencing surrounds the stone platform, which is quite wide. So you have plenty of room up top, though be warned that the view down is somewhat sheer in places.
- A set of stone steps links two viewing areas. You can still see most of the view without going up to that separate area, though, if the steps trouble you.
- In addition to the views and roof, be sure to look at the other details on the cathedral building, such as floral stone carvings largely invisible to those down below.
- Vienna offers plenty of alternatives should you wish more views of the city from above. Try these suggestions.
How to get to the North Tower
See the information on St Stephen’s cathedral for directions and public transport tips. Once you’re inside the cathedral, head off to the left and up the side to find the North Tower lift and ticket counter. You can’t miss it.
Address: Stephansdom, Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna