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
- On-site tickets are cash only
- Consider an all-inclusive option for multiple cathedral attractions
- Book full cathedral tickets* (with Dom Museum) online
- Check the cathedral calendar for days when entry times may be restricted
- See also:
Inside the Tower
(The north tower is on the left with the green dome)
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; you get a perfect close-up look at the multi-coloured mosaic tiling that replaced the original Gothic roof lost to fire at the end of WWII.
You do still get views across much of Vienna, and large labelled photos allow you to understand what you’re seeing.
For example, 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.
Nevertheless, some of the city’s iconic buildings do lurk hidden behind the roof (the Hofburg area and Schönbrunn Palace, for example).
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 the same fire that damaged the roof, 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
At the time of writing, adults pay €6.00 to go up; tickets for the tower are available for cash only at a counter next to the lift.
That lift has an attendant, so simply wait at the bottom (or top) for them to arrive and beckon you inside.
A lift ticket is also contained within all-inclusive packages that cover the different attractions inside the cathedral.
Stephandom’s own all-inclusive version is available for cash on-site. One package available online, for example, includes the North Tower, the South Tower, the self-guided cathedral tour, the catacomb tour, and the neighbouring Dom Museum:
(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 further 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.
- On my trip, a set of stone steps linked two viewing areas. You could still see most of the view without going up to that separate area, though.
- 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 Stephansdom cathedral for directions and public transport tips.
Once 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