St. Stephen’s Cathedral is at the geographical heart of Vienna, with the districts of the city radiating out from its location in the first district. Its spires are symbols of the city as iconic as the Prater’s Riesenrad, and far older! The original church was built between 1137 and 1147 outside Vienna’s original city wall, but was constantly being expanded and restored - even today parts of the building are always under construction or restoration. The building was originally intended to be just a parish church, but despite the impressive architecture and lobbying from the city’s great and good, it was only made a bishop’s seat in 1469, then raised further to be the seat of an archbishop in 1722. The cathedral nearly survived World War II intact, after a German captain ignored orders to leave it in ashes before retreating, but was damaged in 1945 by fires set nearby by looters. Many of the cathedral’s artworks survived, but the famously beautiful roof collapsed and the ancient choir stalls were also lost. The rebuilding of the cathedral began almost immediately after the war ended and it was fully reopened to the public in 1952. Since the founding of the Second Republic after the war, the cathedral has also been used for the funerals of Austrian politicians and notable figures, including Kurt Waldheim and Niki Lauda.