Tuesday, 1 December 2015

viennese sandbox: graben u. stephansplatz

The High Street shopping district of Vienna known as the Graben (ditch) originally marked the western extent of the Roman settlement Vindobona. By the late twelfth century, the city had grown extensively and the city walls were enlarged, financed in part by the king’s ransom for Richard Lionheart

Its chief monument—though it’s hard to speech in such terms in a place as ornate and storied as this—is the Baroque Pestsäule (Plague Column), dedicated to uphold the souls of the victims of one of Europe’s last great epidemics of the pestilence in the late sixteen hundreds.
Just opposite the boulevard (with some modern juxtaposition in between) is the massive cathedral of Saint Stephen (Stephansdom), seat of the archdiocese—was also commissioned in the twelfth century but construction spanned hundreds of years and as with Köln, the building is never really complete, to better accommodate the spiritual needs of that growing populace and to accentuate the Hapsburgs’ importance during the Age of Crusades (hundreds of saintly relics and miraculous icons are kept inside). 
The sprawling architecture and ornamentation of the edifice is not only a witness to dynastic movements but also an interesting reflection of changing culture and commerce, with standard weights and measures of trade displayed on the exterior walls (the ell for gauging bolts of fabric) and a church bell assigned to ring out last call for the neighbourhood pubs.