The St. Charles's Church (German: Karlskirche) is a
church situated on the south side of Karlsplatz, Vienna. It is located on the
edge of the 1st district, 200 metres outside the Ringstraße. It is one of the
most outstanding baroque church structures, and boasts a dome in the form of an
elongated ellipsoid. It is a magnificent religious building with a large cupola:
St. Charles' Church, the last work of the eminent baroque architect Johann
Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.
The Karlskirche has garnered fame due to its dome and its two flanking columns
of bas-reliefs, as well as its role as an architectural counterweight to the
buildings of the Musikverein and of the Vienna University of Technology. The
church is cared for by a religious order and has long been the parish church as
well as the seat of the Catholic student ministry of the Vienna University of
In 1713, one year after the last great plague epidemic, Charles VI, Holy Roman
Emperor, pledged to build a church for his namesake patron saint, Charles
Borromeo, who was revered as a healer for plague sufferers. An architectural
competition was announced, in which Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach prevailed
over, among others, Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena and Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt.
Construction began in 1716 under the supervision of Anton Erhard Martinelli.
After J. B. Fischer's death in 1723, his son, Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach,
completed the construction in 1737 using partially altered plans.