The realisation of Rudolf IV’s original idea and the building of an impressive north tower in 1450 comes too late. The dominant south tower renders a second of equal height impossible. Nevertheless the foundations are laid. Vienna becomes its own diocese and St. Stephen’s is elevated to cathedral status in 1469. But massive political upheaval in the course of the Reformation means funding and labour are scarce and puts an end to the big ideas of medieval construction. Work on the north tower is halted in 1511. It is 67 years later before the Saphoy brothers finish the Renaissance roof finally completing the project in 1578. Today the north tower houses the Pummerin, the main bell, which is only tolled on special occasions
Oral tradition tells us that in 1450, as Frederick IV, King of the Germans is laying the foundation stone for the north tower, the grapes grown in and around Vienna ripen early. As a result, the wine turns so sour that Frederick has it mixed in with the mortar. Apparently that’s why the north tower is so stable. But maybe this is due to the foundations being given time to settle – 17 years to be precise. The first stone isn’t laid until 1467.