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The building of Karlskirche was started in 1715 following plans of one of the most famous Austrian Baroque architects, Johann Fischer von Erlach. The church is spectacular. It is the biggest cathedral in Baroque style north of the Alps.
Initially, the church was build to honor the vows of Emperor Karl VI. given in the time of a severe plague epidemic. It was dedicated to saint Karl Borromeo.
An unusually wide front is composed of a number of contrasting elements which surprisingly add up to a unique and harmonic overall image. Two colums with an allegoric representation of the life of saint Borromeo are reminiscent of Italian Renaissance Trajan colum. They frame the main portal which resembles a Greek temple. The oval nave of the church is topped by an eye-catching dome (72 m high) spectacularly painted at the inside.
The church is situated at one of Vienna's central nodes, spacious 'Karlsplatz'. The area in front of Karlskirche was redesigned in the 1970s by one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century: Henry Moore. His artwork 'Hill Arches' adornes an oval water basin which reflects the church building.
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