Vienna’s Churches

Name of walk Vienna's Churches
Date of walk 2018-11-12

A visit to some of the churches, crypts and catacombs, in my five days of solo ‘street walking’ in Vienna. Plus the superb views out across the city from the North Tower of the Stephansdom and the dome of the Karlskirche.

01

Peterskirche. This 18th century church was modelled on St. Peter's in Rome

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The interior is lavish.

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Kapuzinerkirche (Capuchin Church). This church has the crypt that contained the extremely ornate tombs of 150 Habsburgs. This was number one on my 'things to see' list, having come across them in a 2016 BBC documentary on Vienna by Simon Sebag Montifiore. Surprisingly the main guide book I used didn't even mention it!

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The church.

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Kapuzinergruft. The burial crypt of the Habsburg Emperors.

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For 400 years the mendicant order of the Capuchins has guarded the burial grounds of the Habsburg family. There are ten vaults.

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No expense spared here!

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The skulls, often toothless are a reminder that death can strike anyone, regardless of age or rank, at any time.

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Tomb of Marie Theresa, surrounded by her family

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Early death and the dangers of birth are made tragically clear on the coffins.

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Some of the tombs are relatively plain.

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Kaiser Franz Joseph.

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There are 12 Emperors and 19 Empresses buried here, but their hearts were buried separately in silver containers in the crypt of St. Augustine's Church, and their organs in the catacombs of the Stephansdom. They spread themselves very thinly!

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Evangelical Church.

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Jesuitenkirche (Jesuit Church) was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century

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The church has a rich Baroque interior.

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Ruprechtskirche. St Ruprecht was the patron saint of salt merchants. The church overlooks the merchant's landing stage on the Danube Canal. The church is thought to be 11th century, making it the oldest church in Vienna.

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The inside is quite bare by comparison with other Vienna churches.

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Maria am Gestrade, a Gothic church, has a 180ft steeple and dates from the 14th century.

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Looking across Sigmund Freud Park to the Votivkirche. Unfortunately it was covered in scaffold and shut, when I visited on a rather foggy morning. It is Neo Gothic and built in the late 1800s to express gratitude for Franz Joseph surviving an assassination attempt.

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The Stephansdom at night.

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Stephansdom. (St Stephan's Cathedral). There is an elevator up to the North Tower and 'bell', and 343 steps up to the South Tower. The crypt also contains the organs of the Habsburg's.

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I waited for a good clear day to visit. The Cathedral dates from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The North Tower on the right houses the Pummerin Bell.

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The High Altar altarpiece shows the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

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Wiener Neustader Altar. The altarpiece depicts scenes from the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

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Master craftsman, Anton Pilgram, left a portrait of himself holding a compass carved on to the pulpit.

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I take the elevator up to the North Tower for the great views over Vienna. The spires of the Votivkirche can be seen.

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The green dome belongs to Peterskirche.

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Over a million glazed tiles cover the roof.

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South Tower.

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The Ferris Wheel and Jesuitenkirche can be seen.

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The spire of Maria am Gestrade on the left.

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Maria am Gestrade spire.

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Votivkirche

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Riesenrad, the Ferris Wheel was immortalised in the film of Graham Greene's 'The Third Man', starring Orson Wells.

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Close up of the Jesuit Church.

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The Pummerin Bell. The original bell was made from melted-down cannons abandoned when the Turks fled Vienna in 1643. The bell crashed down through the roof in 1945 when fire swept through the Cathedral. A new and larger bell was cast using the remains of the old.

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Next stop was the catacombs. This was the clapper of the original Pummerin bell.

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Photography was not allowed in the catacombs, so I 'borrowed' these two from the internet. The Ducal Chamber, under the High Altar. It holds the coffins of Rudolf IV (who died in 1365) and his family, as well as urns containing the Imperial organs of many high-ranking Habsburgs.

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The catacombs go out under the main square. Around 11,000 people find their last resting place within. Space issues (and the smell) forced their closure. You can peek into rooms filled with scattered bones, including a mass grave for plague victims. Rather fascinating!

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Back out in to the blue sky. Off to Karlsplatz now while the weather is still superb.

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Karlskirche. This had an elevator that went up into the dome for wonderful views out over Vienna. In front was a water pool, drained in order to put up stalls for the Christmas Market. Darn it, I was looking forward to photographing the church reflection! The church was consecrated in 1737, built by Karl VI and dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo.

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Henry Moore sculpture.

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The lift was installed in order to renovate the dome frescos in 2002, the lift remained to raise some much needed capital from visitors.

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The view out from the top of the platform.

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One of the two columns inspired by Trajan's Column in Rome.

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Looking back at the Stephansdom. The little green dome of the North Tower holds the Pummerin Bell.

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The pool full of market stalls.

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The twin domes of the Kunsthistorisches (Art History) Museum and Naturhistorisches (Natural History) Museum.

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View down into the church from the dome.

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Looking up to the frescoes.

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Natural light streaming on to the altar changes dramatically when the sun comes out. It was a very bright, joyful church, definitely my favourite.

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The organ.

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Very ornate.

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Even the Confessionals were stylish.

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Spherical sculptures reflected the surroundings.

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I can see myself taking the photo!

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The red papal slippers don't look very comfy!

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Augustinerkirche. This contains the hearts of the Habsberg's. It is 14th century.

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The organ. The church is celebrated for its music, including masses by Schubert or Haydn held here on Sundays.

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Michaelerkirche. I made a second visit just to get to see the crypt that contained mummified bodies from before the 1700s, still clothed! Interesting!

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The church in its present form dates from 1792.

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Mozart's Requiem was performed for the first time in this church at a memorial service for the composer on 10 December 1791. As Mozart hadn't finished this work at the time of his death, only the existing part was performed.

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No photographs were allowed in the crypt so I borrowed this one from Alexander Godull. It shows the fully clothed occupant in the second coffin. Aristocrats were able to access their family crypts through marble slabs marked with their coats of arms in the church floor. The coffin of a deceased member of the family could then be lowered directly into the crypt via these marble slabs. Due to the special climatic conditions and constant temperature in the crypt, more than 4000 corpses were kept well preserved. Hundreds of mummified corpses, some still in burial finery or with a wig, are on display, some in open coffins, adorned with flowers or skulls, others decorated with Baroque paintings or with vanitas symbols. The most famous among them is Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782), the most famous writer of opera librettos of the baroque era, he is in the centre coffin at the far end. The writing on the wall indicates which area of the church you are under.

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The very modern R.C. Church, Donau. The Vienna International Centre behind.

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The bells.

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A total contrast to the churches in central Vienna.

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The font.

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Franziskanerkirche. (Franciscan Church). I sat through a Mass in German here, well worth it just to listen to the superb organ music!

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A monk is snuffing out the altar candles after the Mass.

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Schottenkirche (Scottish Church). Despite its name it was founded by Irish Benedictines.

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Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Jubiläums-Kirche. (Kaiser Franz Joseph Jubilee Church). This was just near to our hotel, and stands on the Danube.

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The church was consecrated in 1913. It is now home to the Vienna English Speaking Catholic Community who have held weekly masses at the church since moving there in 2009.

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Spiral staircase, but out of bounds.

The rest of the churches……(no I didn’t visit them all!)…..will have to wait until next time.

Jo.

 

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