Old tower, new toy

March 4, 2011

On of our reasons for writing this blog is simply to have a sort of online diary for ourselves, a place to store images and memories of things we’ve been doing (and thinking) in our free time. So, in many respects it has become a mirror of our lives, and like every mirror it sometimes reflects truths you don’t really like to see: Looking back on our posts of the previous months made me realize just how little time we’ve found to go out and about so far this year…

Seemingly unrelated image, but I'll get to it later...

For weeks and weeks on end now, [m] has been up to her neck in work, including evenings and weekends. Actually, I think she’s even eliminated the word weekend from her vocabulary…

Me, I’m obviously faring better – as you see, I even find the time to write more or less elaborate blog posts. But apart from that skiing trip with my parents, even I have had a somewhat restricted movement radius lately. I don’t know if you noticed, but all my posts since New Year were either dedicated to domestic activities like knitting and reading or to the art and architecture of Vienna. Or more precisely, those parts of Vienna that are within easy reach from our apartment. Thankfully, these include the immediate city centre, i.e. the medieval old town where one always finds plenty to blog about.

To cut to the chase, here’s yet another post about a piece of Vienna’s architectural heritage:

So I proudly present to you, for the first time on this blog: the Stephansdom [St. Stephen’s Cathedral]! Situated both literally and figuratively at the very centre of Vienna, the Stephansdom has been the city’s main church ever since the building’s foundation in 1137 under the auspices of Duke Leopold IV. What you actually see today is a mostly late-medieval structure that has grown over the course of almost three centuries, from 1230 to 1511, with minor additions and alterations made even after that. The building’s most striking features are, perhaps, the high roof which is covered in glazed tiles arranged in a colourful zigzag pattern (see first photo), and, definitely, the south tower (pictured above) which was erected from 1359 to 1433.

With a height of slightly over 136 metres (about 447 feet), the south tower makes it into the top five of the “highest buildings completed during the Middle Ages”. All the way up to the top…

…it is richly adorned with architectural detail, pinnacles and finials, crockets and tracery of all sorts and forms.

Jonathan Jarrett of tenthmedieval once described the Stephansdom quite accurately as “sheer Gothic excess”, and the tower certainly has its part in creating this effect. By the way, there’s more photos of the church over at Jonathan’s blog where you can even make out what the building looks like as a whole.

You may actually have been wondering why I’m feeding you all these detailed images of the spire…

…rather than a decent full shot of the church, and the answer is simply: Because I can. To put it less succinctly, I have scratched together the rest of my Christmas money and finally got a telephoto zoom lens for my camera. Nothing too fancy, just the Canon EFS 55-250mm which is one of the most basic and – here comes the important part – one of the most economical telezoom lenses available. But while it’s far from professional, it’s all I can wish for at the moment and serves my purposes well. After all, I bought my DSLR camera first and foremost as a work tool to take pictures of medieval wall paintings, and I got that telezoom lens to get better photos of paintings that might be a bit higher up a church wall – and I’m talking like maybe five or ten metres up the wall. Being able to get a shot like this…

…from the ground 136 (!) metres below is more than I ever hoped for. So, yeah, I’m actually pretty excited about my new toy tool!

Now all I need is to find the time to put it to use properly…

UPDATE, March 5: Erm, I just realized this is actually not the first time the Stephansdom appears on our blog. It is, however, the first time it appears in a major role, so I hope you’ll forgive my temporary lapse of memory.

2 Responses to “Old tower, new toy”

  1. Thankyou for the link! Amazing pictures here. I was going to ask what camera you were using that was so much better than mine, but of course camera joy turned out to be the point! Looks like a fine choice!

    Why haven’t I blog-rolled you guys? I must do that now. Sorry for the omission.

    • [c] said

      Jonathan, you’re welcome – your definition of the Stephansdom’s architecture is so perfect, I just had to quote it ;-)

      Btw, my camera is a good old Canon EOS 400D. I guess it’s an art historian thing… You know, in every art historian’s life there comes a time when s/he decides to invest in a proper DSLR camera. Well, at least that’s true for those of us who aren’t specialists on Picasso or Michelangelo but rather deal with artists like „Anonymous Follower of the Master of the Schotten altarpiece“ or „Unknown Umbrian Painter, mid-14th century“. The works of artists like that tend to be poorly published, so more often than not your only chance of getting decent (or any) images of them is to take them yourself.

      Oh, and thanks for adding us to your blogroll! Actually, we’ve been meaning to add you to our own blogroll (viz. our „Inspirations“ page) for a while now, too – somehow, though, we never got round to it, but I just put that right :-)

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