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According to the plans of Hans Puchsbaum, St. Stephen's Cathedral was to have two equal towers. While the construction of the South Tower was begun under Duke Rudolf IV, the founder in 1359 and was completed by Hans von Prachatitz in 1433, the foundation stone for the North Tower was not laid until 1450 by Provost Simon von Klosterneuburg. The construction of the tower was stopped in 1511 for financial reasons. In the time of the Reformation and the Turkish wars other worries were experienced. In 1556-1578 Hans and Kaspar Saphoy erected the octagonal Renaissance hood with a bell helmet. The dome of the tower top is crowned by an eagle, which is why the north tower is also called the eagle tower. After the cathedral's devastating fire at the end of the Second World War, the tower's helm was converted into a belfry in the course of restoration work. Since 5 October 1957, the Pummerin, newly cast in St. Florian near Linz, has found its place here.

The Pummerin hung in the south tower until her destruction during the cathedral fire in 1945. With 20,130 kg (without bobbin lace and other fittings) and a diameter of 314 cm, it is the largest bell in Austria.

The photo (July 2017) shows the elevator shaft with which visitors can comfortably drive up to the Pummerin, as well as the stone figures of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth in the middle.


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According to a tradition of the humanist Johannes Cuspinian, Emperor Frederick III himself had a share in its foundation. As the scholar reports, in 1450 the wine was so sour because of premature ripening of the grapes that nobody wanted to drink it. It was called "Reifbeißer".

Frederick III. ordered the wine to be taken to the "Stephansfreithof" (cemetery), which at that time still surrounded the church. The grape juice was to be used to slake off the lime in order to "build right" the foundation of the north tower. It is said that the North Tower is especially stable because of this.


The legend of Puchsbaum's fall from the north tower

To displace his teacher and master, Puchsbaum had promised to build a second tower in a very short time. But the more he thought about how to fulfill his promise, the more he began to doubt, and it took a nameless restlessness from its soul. Probably some day he looked at the recent and not infrequently he stood in front of the wonderful house of God until the hour of midnight, on which the second tower was to rise. He just did it again, and tormenting thoughts did not let him notice for a long time, what was going on around him. When he finally looked up, he saw an old man near him, who looked at him wistfully.

"You have mercy on me", the mysterious apparition began to speak, "but I want to help you, and sooner, when you accepted, the construction should be completed. For this I demand nothing, only you may not mention the name of your bride Maria during the whole building!"

Puchsbaum in his distress promised to keep what was demanded, and the contract was concluded. The next day he began construction, and this one went on so fast that everything wondered about it with good reason. Puchsbaum himself, proud of the victory, which he was to fight for his opponent and the unbelieving magistrate, could hardly the outbreak of joy. Every evening he oversaw the work of the day from the highest scaffolding, and their success filled his soul with endless plans and hopes. So during the whole construction he had not yet been able to gain time to think of his beloved, let alone to see them; but when one evening from dizzying heights he cast down his drunken glances again stand, the glorious one passed by. He forgot the promise and called out in the storm of the Joy:

"Maria!"

At the same moment the scaffolding collapsed, he fell into the depths, and the ruins of the burst tower covered his body. A red figure appeared and soon disappeared; but the mockery of hell echoed far across the city.

Since that time, the idea of building a second tower has been abandoned; the magistrate had rubble and stones cleared away; but there was no trace of the unfortunate man to be found.

Source: The Legends of the City of Vienna, edited by Gustav Gugitz, Vienna 1952, No. 33, p. 43f