The church dedicated to St Charles Borromeo, the Karlskirche, was designed by J. B. Fischer von Erlach and his son. It is Vienna's most important religious building in the Baroque style. Emperor Charles VI vowed he would build it when the plague was raging in 1713, and in 1737 the church was dedicated to St Charles Borromeo, one of the saints evoked during plagues.
1 Karlsplatz, A-1040 Vienna, Austria
7:30am-7pm; Sun: 9am-7pm; Sat: 8am-7pm
In 1738 it was handed over to the Knights of Malta, and in 1783 it was declared an Imperial prebend. The vast Baroque building is some 80m/262ft long and 60m/200ft wide. The dome rises to a height of 72m/235ft. It cost 304,000 guilders to build. All countries owing allegiance to the Crown had to contribute to the cost as a fine for the deliberate destruction of the chapel of the Austrian Embassy. There is much to be seen in the church with its tall oval central area, two major side-chapels and four smaller chapels in the corners.
The relief on the metope over the portal portrays the plague being overcome. The Latin inscription means: "I fulfill my vow in the presence of those who fear the Lord."
The Triumphal Pillars are based on Trajan's Column at Rome. Their spiralling bands in relief depict scenes from the life of St Charles Borromeo. The pillars, which are 33m/110ft high are surmounted by the Imperial Crown over the lanterns.
The light interior is dominated by Rottmayr's frescoes in the dome. They represent the apotheosis of St Charles and the petition that plague may be averted. On the left an angel with a flaming torch sets fire to Luther's Bible which has fallen to the ground.
Rottmayr painted the fresco on the organ case. It depicts St Cecilia with angels making music.
The subject of the High Altar is the Ascent into Heaven of St Charles Borromeo. The sculptural decoration with clouds behind the High Altar is based on designs by J. B. Fischer von Erlach.
Noteworthy Reredoses in the church are "Jesus and the Roman Captain" and "Healing of a Man Sick of the Palsy" by Daniel Gran; "Raising of the Young Man" by M. Altomonte; "St Luke" by van Schuppen. The painting of the Assumption of the Virgin on the left of the High Altar is by Sebastiani Ricci, and that of St Elisabeth of Thuringia to the right of the High Altar is by Daniel Gran.
By the large pool in front of the church stands the Henry Moore sculpture "Hill Archer".