Category Archives: Europe

Churches of Vienna


Last night in Vienna [January, 2015] was cold and windy and rainy however this morning the sky was blue. I took the underground metro to the west train station so I could walk down Mariahilferstrasse to the Museum. This is a very beautiful street lined with shops. On this morning walk I discovered the church of Mariahilferkirche. It dates from the 17th century. At the time of the second Islamic siege of the city, this area was devastated. Once the Turks were defeated in 1686 the church was built and continued to be expanded on into the 18th century. The left tower houses a 4.5 ton bell. In front of the church is a memorial to Joseph Haydn who lived in this district.

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This is Peterskirche.
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The Franciscans have a church in Vienna.
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The Votive Church is a neo-Gothic church on the Ringstrasse.
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Dominican Church, Vienna

Dominican church. Although there has been a church at this location since 1247, because of fires and heavy damage sustained in the first siege of Vienna the church you see today was built in 1631 and this Italian baroque was introduced to Vienna. The interior is quite ornate. Since it is a Dominican church, the theme of the Rosary is very prominent. Notice the high altar depicting Pope Pius V proclaiming the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

The theme of the Rosary is incorporated into the pulpit. There is a blue globe surronded by a Rosary.


In the apse are two paintings depicting historical battles whose victories were ascribed to the power of the Rosary: Lepanto (1571) and Muret (1313).


The frescoes on the barrel vault from 1675 are stunning. They depict 46 scenes from the life of Our Lady.

Dominikanerkirche facade.

Museum of Art History

I was at Maria Theresien Platz in order to visit the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien). The museum was built in 1872 in the Italian Renaissance style.


Entrance to the gallery.

I walked into the museum when it opened at 10 and did not leave until 4:30 because it houses one of the richest and most important picture galleries in the world. The Hapsburg emperors had a passion for acquiring art and Archduke Leopold Wilhelm augmented the collection with many paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In addition to the painting gallery there is a great collection of Egyptian and Classical art.

Jan Vermeer. The Art of Painting is considered one of the most important paintings of the Dutch school.

Raphael, La Madonna del Prato.

Late gothic statue of Mary.

A medicine chest.

A medicine chest.

When I left the museum I took the underground to Karlplatz to see Karlskirche built in honor of Saint Charles Borromeo.

The facade is novel with the two huge freestanding columns. I read in a guidebook that the idea came to the architect Von Erlach when he was in Rome and saw Saint Peter and Trajan’s column fused together as one from the Pincio hill at sunset.

Vienna’s Ringstrasse in the Snow

I decided to walk a bit of the Ring and take some photos of buildings on the Ringstrasse which was built in 1857 when Emperor Franz Joseph ordered the old city walls demolished that ringed the old city.


Karlsplatz. This Metro stop was designed early in the 20th century. It is Art Nouveau with marble facing and gold floral motifs.

University of Vienna

University of Vienna


Rathaus. A monumental Neo-Gothic building on the Ring. Built in 1872.

Burgtheater, on the Ring. It was heavily bombed but the late 18th-century theater was restored.

Parliament. On the Ring. it was built between 1874 and 1883. It is a profoundly classical structure. Notice Pallas Athena.

On the ring. The architect took his inspiration from the Theseion in the Agora of Athens. Built between 1820 and 1825. It is in the Volksgarten.

Heldentenor or Äußere Burgtor. On the ring. There are two statues: one of Eugene of Savoy who was victorious over the Turks, and Archduke Karl, Napoleon’s adversary.

The papyrus museum. The museum is housed in the Neue Hofburg which is on Heldenplatz. I spent the whole afternoon. I was particularly struck by a papyrus that is a fragment from Orestes by Euripides and it has musical notation.

When I left the museum it was getting dark but there was falling snow so I decided to conclude the day with a walk in the snow and just enjoy the beautiful architecture of a city that truly imperial.

Heldentor. The gate closes the Heldenplatz towards the Ring. Built in 1821. It was conceived as a grand entrance to the imperial palace.

Translation of the inscription: “Justice is the foundation of rulers.” Or “Justice is the foundation of those to whom office has been entrusted.” Now that is very classical and Catholic.

Maria Theresien Platz. On the ring. This monument was created around 1870 as part of the Ring development.The platz is framed by two museums.

Michaelerkirche, by Day and Night

18th century facade with a slender Gothic tower.

Saint Michael’s church, Michaelerkirche, in Vienna, is in Michaelerplatz.


“The centerpiece of the high altar is Maria Candida, a Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary…” [Wikipedia]



Although the church has been transformed it still maintains a Gothic style and even a pre-Gothic Romanesque portal and frescoes.



In the Michael church there is a memorial in the Lady of Lourdes chapel.

The organ at Michaelerkirche.

The organ at Michaelerkirche.

Some views of the church at night.
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Sunday, A Gift From God

Sonntag ein Geschenk des Himmels. Sunday, a gift from heaven. This Sunday morning I began my pilgrimage to Stephansdom which is the Cathedral church of Vienna. As I approached the Dom I saw a large blue sign on the large south tower which read in German: “Sunday, a gift from heaven.” And this Sunday was truly a gift from heaven.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, Stephansdom , is a gem of Gothic architecture, a defining aspect of the cityscape. (Man pictures follow: click a picture for a larger version).



Before Mass I had the opportunity of walking around the cathedral which stands at the heart of the old city. Today it is impossible to imagine the damage it sustained in the bombings of the historical center of Vienna.


Although the Dom was consecrated between 1144 and 1147, all that remains of the Romanesque church is the facade. Notice Christ enthroned between two angels.



The polygonal towers as known as the Heathen Towers flank the Romanesque facade.




The South Tower is a landmark of Vienna. It is called Steffl or “little Stephen.” As a result of the fire that raged through the building the night of the bombings of 11 April 1945 it threatened to collapse but miraculously resisted as the roof collapsed.

The bell in the south tower called the Pummerin, the Boomer was 20 tons and cast in 1711 from Turkish cannons taken in 1683, but crashed from the tower during the bombing of the historic center. But the Austrians cast a new bell as part of the restoration after the bombings.



Second tower of Dom.

The second tower, begun in 1450, was never completed. With the Islamic threat with the Turkish aggression they turned their efforts to defense.





This is the pulpit from which Saint John Capistrano preached in favor of a crusade in 1451 against Turkish aggression.


The apse of the Dom.

West gallery of Dom.

High Mass was beautiful. When I walked in about 15 minutes before Mass the Dom was already filled and during Mass I turned around and was delighted at the attendance. The choir sang a setting of the ordinary by Rheinberger (1839-1901) Messe-Dur In nativitate Domini op 126. The congregation was very attentive and sang the hymns with great devotion. The high altar in the apse was designed in 1647 by Tobias Pock.

High altar at Dom.


The organ.


West gallery of Dom.

After Mass I spent some time exploring the interior. The Gothic pulpit is a masterpiece but we do not know the name of the sculptor; however he left his self portrait in the Fenstergucker.

The infant Jesus at the Dom.

The Wirner Neustadt Altarpiece at the Dom.

Side altar at Dom.

Marble tomb of Emperor Friedrich III.

The nave looking to the altar at night.

A living church at prayer in the Dom.


Small bell tower of Dom at night.


Stephansdom south tower. It is 136.7 meters high, a stunning example of Gothic architecture.

The evening lights around the cathedral.


New Year’s Concert in Vienna

Musikverein, in Vienna, January 4, 2014. I went to the concert when it was light and left in the dark. The traditional New Year’s Day concert is broadcast and televised as well in the States. And of course since the concert always end with the Radetzky March, I was hoping I would hear it in Vienna. There was another reason as well: the last time I saw the Musikverein was the New Year of 1973 with my mother.

I arrived only anticipating a tour but a great gift was given. There was a New Year concert! Although tickets were sold out I was able to get a place to stand and was not disappointed because I had a great view and the acoustic in the Hall was fantastic.

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After the two hour concert and enjoying the audience participation through clapping I was exhilarated as I walked into the cold night thinking that yes Sunday has been for me a gift from heaven.

The Radetzky march is always the conclusion of the concert during the new year. This march is pure Viennese.