St. Stephen's Cathedral (more commonly known by its German title: Stephansdom), is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna.
The first church on the site was Romanesque and built in the years after 1137 but burnt down in 1193. It was re-built in early Gothic style; that church also burnt down in 1258.
Today′s cathedral was built between 1359 when Rudolf IV laid the foundation stone for a new cathedral that was meant to emphasise the role of Vienna as a capital, and the early 20th century, when some of the choirs and chapels were finished. It now appears in late Gothic and typically Germanic style.
Standing at 136 meters (446 ft) tall and affectionately referred to by the city's inhabitants as "Steffl" (a diminutive form of "Stephen"), St. Stephen's Cathedral's massive south tower is its highest point and a dominant feature of the Vienna skyline. Its construction lasted 65 years, from 1368 to 1433. During the Siege of Vienna in 1529 and again during the Battle of Vienna in 1683, it served as the main observation and command post for the defence of the walled city, and it even contains an apartment for the watchmen who, until 1955, manned the tower at night and rang the bells if a fire was spotted in the city. At the tip of the tower stands the double-eagle imperial emblem with the Habsburg-Lorraine coat of arms on its chest, surmounted by a double-armed apostolic cross, which refers to Apostolic Majesty, the imperial style of kings of Hungary.This emblem replaced earlier crescent and the six-pointed star emblem.
Over the centuries, soot and other forms of air pollution accumulating on the church have given it a black colour, but recent restoration projects have again returned some portions of the building to its original white. This tower is still under restoration.