Augustinian Church

Vienna, Austria

Augustinian Church was originally built in 1327 as the parish church of the imperial court of the Habsburgs. In 1634, the Augustinerkirche became the parish church of the imperial church. As imperial church, many Habsburg weddings took place there, including the wedding of Archduchess (and future Empress) Maria Theresa in 1736 to Duke Francis of Lorraine, the wedding of Archduchess Marie Louise in 1810 to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France, and the wedding of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1854 to Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria.

The nave was built under architect Dietrich Landtner from 1330 to 1339, but not consecrated until 1 November 1349. As the nearby Hofburg expanded, the Augustinerkirche gradually became engulfed by it and today is a part of the complex. Although inconspicuous from the outside, the inside is more ornate. During the reign of Emperor Joseph II, 18 side altars were removed in 1784 when the church was restored in the gothic style. A new side altar was added in 2004, dedicated to Emperor Karl I of Austria (1887–1922) who is on the path to being recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Loreto Chapel, to the right of the main altar, holds the silver urns containing the hearts of Habsburg rulers, while their bodies are kept in the Imperial Crypt. Herzgruft contains the hearts of 54 members of the imperial family.

Notable among the church's monuments is the memorial to Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria sculpted by Antonio Canova, in 1805.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1327
Category: Religious sites in Austria

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gregory Blackley (4 months ago)
I find quiet time with God here..... excellent place to escape to for praying bon a daily basis!
Thea (10 months ago)
This church is really impressive, thanks to its massive architecture and its marble-like walls and columns, that make the building look optically much higher. One of the main reasons why you should visit this church is the funerary monument for Maria Christina of Austria, a beautiful masterpiece of Canova, so meaningful and aesthetically pleasing, and so realistic too, thanks to Canova's talent.
Maire Sheehan (10 months ago)
The 3 stars reflect the plainness of the church rather than an indication of value of visit. As it was Sunday afternoon you could still smell the incense, added to the atmosphere. Useful 1 euro information machine which fills the information gap.
Alice H (11 months ago)
Great Sunday church service with free concert at 11am. Nice experience even if you observe other religions
Dr. Steven Warren Suddath (12 months ago)
The Augustinian Church is a venerable place with a great history. It was the wedding church of the Imperial Family of Habsburg. I had the extraordinary honour that I could marry there myself, at Silvester 1919. It was a very romantic wedding with great organ music from Bach and Widor. A lot of tourists were that much fascinated by the wedding that they filmed, photographed and entered the chapel where the holy covenant took place, for watching the whole cerenony...
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.