The Mariazell Basilica (Bazilica Fecioarei Maria)

The Mariazell Basilica, which translates as the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, is located in Mariazell, Austria. The Marian basilica is one of the most is one of the most important temples located in Europe and this is easily determined due to the impressive number of tourists that come from all over the world to visit the Basilica. More so, there are pilgrimages organized, mainly because it is considered that a specific icon located inside the basilica is miraculous.

The initial church which stood on the site where the basilica is situated at present was erected in the 14th century in the Gothic architectural style. However, the edifice was badly damaged by fire in the 15th century and when the renovation work began, the architect in charge of the project, Domenico Sciassia, had a different vision for the construction.

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The basilica was expended and Baroque details were inscribed on the edifice. The modifications which were conducted on the edifice consisted of erecting two baroque towers on each side of the gothic pinnacle located on the church. Another adjustment was conducted to the nave which was enlarged, both lengthwise and widthwise.

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The interior is of immense beauty, consisting of 12 lateral chapels, each comprising a Baroque altar. At the entrance, one can notice two full-sized statuettes made out of lead. These were masterfully created in 1757 by the hands of Balthasar Ferdinand Moll, one of the most famous sculptors in Vienna, during the Baroque age.  The statues represent King Ludwig I of Hungary (the left one) and Heinrich, Margrave of Moravia, a noblemen from the medieval times, on the right.

One of the main attractions in the basilica is a statuette made of brasswood which depicts the Virgin Mary. This wooden icon is said to be miraculous in as much that tourists from different parts of the globe, as well as religious and/or spiritual individuals make their way towards Austria and to the Marian basilica.

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Pilgrims used to come to the basilica as early as the 12th century, but the tradition ceased in the 18th century, more accurately in 1783, when Emperor Joseph II of Austria dissolved the monastery. By 1787, he had completely forbidden pilgrims from setting foot in the basilica.

But when this limitation was lifted, pilgrims returned to this sanctuary. At present, it is estimated that close to 1 million pilgrims come to the Marian basilica on an annual basis.

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The basilica is opened for visitation, but there is a timeframe in which access inside the house of worship is granted:

1st of November – 30th of April: 07:30 – 19:15;

1st of May – 31st of October: 06:00 – 20:00.

These hourly intervals are only meant as a guideline, as there is the possibility for some modifications to be made to the schedule at one moment or another. However, the good part is that the Mariazell Basilica is opened throughout the year and that access within is granted daily.