From 1000 to 1400, the powerful European church princes are in fierce competition to build the largest and most splendid cathedral. The heroes of the story are the stonemasons, who alone possess the know-how behind these monumental structures. Over the centuries they develop systems of proportion which become templates of gothic architecture. These geometric formulas are top-secret and only passed on to initiates. Organised as a kind of brotherhood in cathedral workshops, the artisans leave their mark in the complex numeric symbolism of cathedral architecture. St. Stephen’s still has a cathedral workshop. Some 20 stonemasons, sculptors, carpenters, locksmiths and electricians devote themselves to often ancient techniques necessary for the upkeep and renovation of the structure.
There are hundreds of symbol-bearing figures on and in St. Stephen’s: people, animals, demons, hybrid creatures and so on. The iron cockerel on the roof of the choir, for example, symbolises God’s fight against the Devil. A night watchman, whose first morning cry ends the Devil’s nocturnal misdeeds and heralds the rising sun. And Jesus, who leads us out of the dark and into the light.