After bundling up, I decided to walk the 2.7 kilometres from my Neubaugasse/Mariahilferstrasse address to the impressive Votivkirche (Votive Church).
There is no way to really describe a downtown Vienna walk. The usual adjectives simply do not suffice. Gorgeous, breathtaking, grand, stunning – all just over used words. And it is not just the general appearance of Vienna – it is also the history that inspires me.
I was wide eyed and gap mouthed the entire distance. And I didn’t even notice the cold.
The Votivkirche is not the oldest church Vienna has to offer, as a matter of fact, by ‘church terms’ the Votivkirche is barely even a teenager.
Completed in 1879, the church was built (after a successful campaign led by the Emperors brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian), as a thank you to God for sparing the life of Emperor Franz Joseph after an assassination attempt.
Franz was only 23 at the time of the attempted murder. The incident occurred at the hands of a Hungarian man who stabbed him while he took his nightly walk.
The Emperor was saved by a local and an Irishman who happened to be passing by.
The local, Dr. Ettenreich was later given noble status. The Irishman O’Donnell, who detained the attacker, was made a Count of the Habsburg Empire. He also received the Commander’s Cross of the Royal Order of Leopold.
His customary arms were given some Austrian flare and can be found on the portico of No. 2 Mirabel Platz in Salzburg.
Also interesting is that this incredible monument was designed by a man, Heinrich von Ferstel, who was only 26 years old at the time.
Gothic churches were constructed in the middle ages over many generations. Alternatively the Votivkirche was constructed with one man, the original designer, at the helm until completion – twenty six years after first breaking ground.
The church was built out of sandstone and needs regular repairs and maintenance. It was under repair on my visit – for the entirety of my visit – but was still open for visitors.
The main alter is quite impressive, and inspired by the Basilicas of Rome.
There was a small shop inside that sold beautiful Church trinketry. Globes, candles, books and bibles, ornamental Jesus’s and the like.
I saw a lovely rosary (that’s what it is called, right?) and just couldn’t resist. I figured it would be a perfect souvenir to take home and admire.
On my way out I noticed a pair of vending machines. It took me a moment to register the joke.
I still can’t even believe it – it seemed such a serious, quiet, dignified place. But someone certainly has a sense of humour. I actually laughed out loud.
Can you see it?
Vending machines. Heaven – or Hell? Ha!
I planned to be out all night wandering the frigid streets of Christmas infused Vienna. I had heard a rumour that the markets and outdoor cafes and bars (yes, outdoor!) carry on late into the night and just had to see if that was true… (continued).
Additional photos in the slideshow.
- Votive Church Vienna (wikipedia)