Vienna – visiting some churches

Let us visit some of the churches in Vienna (see Feliz Czeike: “Wien. Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Donaumetropole”, Dumont 2013) .

The best known church is the Stephansdom or St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It dominates the skyline of the city center – this is the view from the Softel tower.


Its construction lasted from 1230 (romanesque style – west facade) to 1523 (gothic style). The tower – 136m high and called “Steffl” – was useful to observe the Turks, when they attacked Vienna in 1529 and 1683.

The oldest church in today’s Vienna is the romanesque Ruprechtskirche near the Danube Channel. It is assumed that part of it was built around 825 during Carolingian times (Dumont, p. 170).


Not far from here we find the gothic church Maria am Gestade or St. Mary’s on the Bank from the 14th century, squeezed into the narrow streets of the city center, but well visible for the former mariners on the Danube. Today this church is used by the Czeks in Vienna.


Near the Hofburg, we visit the gothic Minoritenkirche or Minorites Church today used by the Italians in Vienna. The original tower had been destroyed in 1683 and then topped with this flat roof. The sacistry house was added in 1909 – from outside the Minoriten church does almost not look like a church.


I like the solemn atmosphere inside and particularly this statue of Maria (Madonna della famiglia from ca 1350)


The main chapel of the imperial Hofburg had to fit into the narrow streets around the castle.


Many of the churches in Vienna are of baroque style. In the city center we visit the church that the Jesuits had built from 1623 – 27, next to their university.


Inside the church has been opulently decorated.


South of the old city walls is the Karlskirche or St. Charles’s Church (erected by Charles VI in 1716-1737 and dedicated to Charles Borromeo). The two towers remind me of minarets (apologies, and yes, I read in Dumont that they remind us of Roman victory columns and that they show the life of Saint Borromeo (Dumont, p. 244)).


Charles Borromeo was a counter-reformer in the 16th century. The cupola is 72m high and can be accessed using a lift (and paying 8 Euros). Up there we find this painting of Luther going to hell and an angel burning his bible. Dramatic scenery.


Well, in 2017 Germany will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther having posted his 95 theses in 1517. Luther’s heritage has persisted longer than this painting may have suggested.

With the Karlskirche we end our church tour through Vienna, leaving more churches for our next visit – “my” Dumont recommends particularly the Augustinerkirche (Augustinian church) and the Michaelerkirche (St. Michael’s church).


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