St. Charles Church

St. Charles Church (Karlskirche) is one of the most important Baroque churches north of the Alps. Its construction was completed in 1739. The reason for the establishment was a vow made by Emperor Charles VI when Vienna was seriously afflicted by the plague in 1713. He promised to devote a new church to the Cardinal Karl Borromeo for the salvation of the city.

History of St. Charles Church – A church with significant symbolism

In a publicly announced architecture competition Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was able to convince the decision makers. He developed the plans for the building, which was completed only after his death in 1723 by his son Joseph Emanuel. Apart from its impressive monumentality St. Charles Church is also characterized by its multi-layered, symbolic program expressing itself in the various architectural elements. This symbolism goes back to a circle of scholars, which includes the philosopher Gottfried Leibnitz or Carl Gustav Heraeus, and manifests itself in particular in the triumphal columns, reliefs and frescoes inside the domed building. On the one hand, the plague should be symbolized and outlined as reason for the construction, on the other hand, the fortitude and the claim to power of the Habsburg dynasty should be represented.

Today the exterior design of St. Charles Church with its dome and the two flanking relief columns appears as impressive architectural counterbalance to the Musikverein and the Technical University at the Karlsplatz.