Vienna has a number of magnificent churches and one of the most beautiful is the Karlskirche. While St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, St. Charles Church is a magnificent Baroque building. Restored a few years ago, it now shines again in all its glory.

Vienna’s Karlskirche is just as interesting for architecture and art lovers as it is for history buffs. The combination of different stylistic models from Byzantium to Rome and Vienna is remarkable. But perhaps that is what makes this church so charming.

A magnificent building for a vow

The church was commissioned by Emperor Charles VI. During a devastating plague epidemic in Vienna, he made a vow to have a church built. One of the most important architects of the time was chosen for the building: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. He had already built numerous churches and palaces in Salzburg and Vienna, including Klessheim Palace in Salzburg.

Construction began in 1716, three years after Emperor Karl’s vow, and the church was completed by 1739. It was consecrated to the plague saint and patron saint of the emperor, St. Francis of Assisi. Charles Borromeo. His life is depicted in reliefs on the two columns to the right and left of the original main entrance. The relief on the gable roof shows how the intercessions of St. Francis of Assisi can be heard. Charles Borromeo put an end to the plague in Vienna.

A dome full of wonders

The dome of the Karlskirche is remarkable and worth seeing in many ways. With a diameter of 25 meters, it still looks narrow from the front, as it is oval and not round. But it gets really interesting on the inside.

A ceiling fresco by the Salzburg Baroque painter Johannes Michael Rottmayr covers an area of 1250 m². It shows the glorification of St. Francis. Karl Borromäus and was also restored. The fresco could be viewed in the course of this work. The interest was and is so great that there is now a permanently installed panorama lift with platform. Here you can view the frescoes very closely and intensively. A possibility that you won’t find in any other church. The elevator in the middle of the church is a little unusual, but this unique experience is worth it.

Important for your visit

You can reach St. Charles Church easily and conveniently from our hotels, Hotel IMLAUER Vienna and Hotel Nestroy Vienna. Take the subway line U 1 to the station “Karlsplatz” and walk through the park.

The entrance to Karlskirche is on the left-hand side. The church is open from Monday to Saturday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 12.00 pm to 7.00 pm. The panorama lift can be used Monday to Saturday from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 12.00 pm to 6.30 pm

The entrance fee including panorama lift is € 8.00 per adult.

The lift takes you to a height of 32 meters, from where several steps lead further up. Be aware of this and if you are afraid of heights, it is better not to visit the frescoes.

Around the Karlskirche

The square in front of St. Charles Church is used for a market at Easter and during Advent. Here you will find a range of stalls selling arts and crafts, jewelry, creative items and culinary delights. Especially during Advent, when the lights illuminate the square, the atmosphere in front of St. Charles Church is unique.

While you’re here, don’t miss a visit to the Wien Museum. It is located just to the left of St. Charles Church and displays numerous artifacts relating to the history of this city in an impressive and exciting way. Changing exhibitions complement the program.