Feet away underground chambers are piled high with human bones. Thousands upon thousands of centuries-old skeletons.
Imagine bolts sliding across a door, sealing you into a tomb.
Imagine not knowing whether the greater danger was behind that door or in the tomb with you.
The catacombs beneath Stephansdom were used as mass graves during the 17th century, when the bubonic plague raged through Vienna. Around 11,000 people were buried down there, layered one on top of another until the chambers were floor to ceiling in rotting corpses. At that point, prisoners were lowered down with ropes to stack the bones and make room for more. The stench was so bad that mass in the sanctuary was often impossible. During WWII, sections of the catacombs were cleared and used as bomb shelters. Can you imagine? Bombs raining down overhead and you locked up underground with old Friedrich McPlague.
A friend and I went on a tour of the crypt at Stephansdom a couple weekends ago. It was as brilliant as my self-guided tour of the H. H. Richardson Complex will be (one day, when I get the opportunity.) We trailed behind the rest of the group, and while we were not picked off by ghosts as we'd hoped, we were largely successful in freaking ourselves the hell out.
The following weekend, which was last weekend (I'm a little behind), I switched perspectives and hiked up to Kahlenberg to see Vienna from above.