Stephansplatz is the central square in Vienna, also located in the geographical center of Old City (Innere Stadt). It is the most popular square in the city, both with tourists and with local commute traffic as the busiest station of U1 is located there, intersecting with U3.
|Location||Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna|
|How to get there||U1 or U3 (Stephansplatz)|
|Opening hours||Always open|
The square takes its name from St. Stephen’s Cathedral, located in the center and obvious main landmark in the area. There was another square, Stock-im-Eisen-Platz, which was separated by a line of houses, but since they were demolished in the early 20th century, now it is one single square, Stephansplatz.
There are two, most exclusive shopping streets connected to the square: Graben and Kärntner Straße. These streets are very popular with tourists, not only for shopping but for strolling around the area.
Stephansplatz area has a well-preserved architecture that was here for ages, since the area started taking shape together with the building of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, starting from the 12th century. However, there is a brand-new modern building, Haas House, which was built just opposite the cathedral. This brought lots of criticism and claims of ruining the authenticity of the square. Some other opinions claim that it is a great combination of old and new.
One of the curiosities of Stephansplatz is Virgilkapelle, a medieval chapel that was discovered underground in 1973, during the excavations for the subway. It is located 12 meters underground and it was built in 1250.
Another interesting thing from the area is the famous Stock im Eisen, a large piece of wood with nails and metal rings, dating from the early 16th century, believed to be used in rituals to ward off demons. It is located on the corner of Graben and Kärntner street, in a glass enclosure on the wall of Palais Equitable. This is an amazing historical artifact on public display.
Stephansplatz is the main touristy area in Vienna and many organized groups start their tour from here. Since it is a central location, it is the best place to start the exploration of the city or meet somebody for a walk in the area. St. Stephen Cathedral gives it a monumental look and it is a favorite place for photoshoots. There is a carriage station behind the cathedral, where visitors can take old fashion rides around the city.
During Christmas time (November-December), Stephansplatz is the host of a very popular Christmas market (one of several in Vienna), where many visitors come to buy souvenirs, take some photos and enjoy mulled wine and cookies. Christmas time, and especially if it snows, is a magical experience in Stephansplatz.