Domkirche St. Stephan (Vienna): Crowned by a 137m (450-ft.) steeple, St. Stephan's, the Cathedral of Vienna, is one of Europe's great Gothic structures. The Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter claimed that its "sheer beauty lifts the spirit." The Viennese regard this monument with great affection, calling it Der Steffl. Intricate altar pieces, stone canopies, and masterful Gothic sculptures are just some of the treasures that lie within. Climb the spiral steps to the South Tower for a panoramic view of the city.
Melk Abbey (Melk): This abbey church, situated on a promontory above the Danube, is one of the world's finest baroque buildings. Melk figures in the Nibelungenlied, the great German epic poem, as well as Umberto Eco's best-selling The Name of the Rose. The view from here is one of the most panoramic in a country known for its views. This baroque masterpiece has burned many times, the first time in 1297 and then in 1683 and 1735, but each time it has risen from the ashes. After a 1947 fire, the golden abbey church was restored yet again, including the regilding of statues and altars with gold bullion.
Salzburg Dom (Salzburg): World renowned for its 4,000-pipe organ, this cathedral is the "most perfect" Renaissance structure in the Germanic countries, with a rich baroque interior and elaborate frescoes. It towers 76m (249 ft.) into the air and holds 10,000 worshippers. The present cathedral was consecrated with great ceremony in 1628, although records show a cathedral on this spot since the 8th century. In 1756, Mozart was baptized in the Romanesque font.
Abbey of St. Florian (St. Florian, Near Linz): Austria's largest abbey is a towering example of the baroque style. On a site occupied by the Augustinians since the 11th century, the present structure was constructed mainly from 1686 to 1751. Honoring a 4th-century Christian martyr and saint, the abbey has as its chief treasure the Altdorfer Gallery, whose most valuable pictures are those by Albrecht Altdorfer, master of the Danubian school. Anton Bruckner, Austria's greatest composer of church music in the 1800s, became the organist at St. Florian as a young man and composed many of his masterpieces here.
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