St. Rupert's Church

Vienna, Austria

St. Rupert's Church is traditionally considered to be the oldest church in Vienna. The church is located in one of the oldest parts of the city, the section of the Roman Vindobona. According to legend, it was founded by Cunald and Gisalrich, companions of Rupert during his occupation of the seat of bishop of Salzburg. However, because Salzburg had influence over religious issues in Vienna between 796 and 829, it is more probable that it was founded in this period.

The first reference in historical documentation is in a document of 1200 when Duke Heinrich II Jasomirgott describes a gift to the Schottenstift church. The document also mentions the Ruprechtskirche, which is labeled the oldest in the city. After the destruction of the Roman settlement, the core part of the city grew in the area near the church. It was the seat of the religious administration before that function was transferred to the Stephansdom in 1147. During the Middle Ages, the church was the seat of the Salt Office, which distributed salt to individual buyers and ensured its quality. The church overlooks the jetty of the salt merchants on the Danube channel.

The ivy-covered church has been rebuilt and altered many times in its history. In 1276, it was damaged by fire and modified. The choir dates from the 13th century, while the southern nave dates from the 15th century. In 1622, it was redecorated in Baroque style. It was also somewhat damaged by shellfire during World War II and affected by the demolition of the nearby ruins of another building. In the middle of the apse, there are two Romanesque stained-glass windows.

The oldest bells in Vienna are located in the church, dating from around 1280. The oldest glass window panes (dating from approximately 1370) can be found in the church. They depict a crucified Christ and the Madonna with baby. The arch on the western gallery has a plaque with the label AEIOU 1439, an undecyphered motto of Emperor Frederick III. The plaque was designed to commemorate the entrance of the emperor to Vienna on December 6, 1439.

A relic of the sarcophagus of Saint Vitalis is located in the church containing the remains of a claimed Christian victim from the Roman catacombs. This memorial of victimization has special meaning in modern times because the Gestapo headquarters, which was used for torture and the organization of Jewish deportations, was located nearby in the Morzinplatz square.

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Founded: c. 800 AD
Category: Religious sites in Austria

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Boris Várhelyi (5 months ago)
An interesting church, considered to be the oldest one in Vienna. Nearby, one can find several good-looking establishments like bars, cafes, etc. and narrow cute streets. The place is located very near to the city centre and is easily accessible by tram number 2, while there is the Donaukanal next to the church.
stefan smokuejka (9 months ago)
The oldest church in Vienna. Catholic by origin and was built in IX century. Worth of seeing obviously. Then you can grab a beer in Philosoph nearby. Keep that rainbow flag away from here, it doesn’t belong here. Got nothing in common with catholic church and people who built it.
Frank Stewart (16 months ago)
Wow, fantastic. A beautiful old church that needs to be visited when in Vienna. A plain and simple church inside but still very beautiful because it still exists. Located in the nightlife part of town.
John K (17 months ago)
This was the first stop for us on a tour of Vienna that included the “old town” district of the city. If I am not mistaken, it is the oldest church in the city, and also one of the older buildings. In this respect, while the exterior and interior may seem spartan, the age of the building and its place in history make it notable, and there is more to appreciate than meets the eye. Definitely worth a stop! *This was the first time I had seen the entire dead body of a Saint preserved in a reliquary! A bit off-putting, but this is worth it for the shock value alone! Further, for me at least, this very much articulated, in a way that reading about it does not, how the concerns of daily life were quite different than today and how religion and faith were more deeply entangled in all aspects of daily life.
Ario Angelo (20 months ago)
Nice little church. Actually the oldest church in Vienna!
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