Going into the field school at Vienna, Austria I did not expect anything at all. More than anything, I was just curious as to why we were going to Vienna. What is there to see in Vienna? I thought it was a very unpopular destination.
The day we landed was Sunday and we had a spare time to walk around the city before our orientation class began. It was quite interesting because the city centre area where we stayed at was so quiet and we did not see a lot of people around. Most shops are closed and only a couple of the restaurants are open. I looked back at this after knowing that Catholicism is the predominant religion in Austria. It made more sense. Sundays are rest days for Catholics.
Knowing this, I was not surprised to see a lot of churches around. I have known from pictures online how grand Catholic Churches in Europe can be, and the ones in Vienna are no exception.
Each church has its own beauty and every time I visit one, I feel really grateful as it is always different to see a church in picture as it is to see it in person. Vienna being an unpopular destination, I had no idea how churches would look like and so I wanted to share my experience and list down the four churches that I think you must see when you visit Vienna.
1) Jesuit Church (aka University of Vienna Church)
Built in 1627 when the Jesuits merged its college with the University of Vienna’s theology faculty, this baroque styled church’s interior is embellished with marble pillars.
It was originally dedicated to St. Ignatius Loyola (a well-known Jesuit) and St. Francis Xavier. After being redesigned by Andrea Pozzo in 1703, the church was dedicated to the Assumption of Mary.
2) Church of the Teutonic Order (aka Church of St. Elisabeth of Hungary)
Built in 1325, this gothic and baroque styled church is consecrated to St. Elisabeth of Hungary. While the interior is beautiful, it is more interesting to note the story of the saint it was consecrated to. It is amazing because this woman is an example who defied the belief: “if you are rich, you cannot be kind”
As a summary: St. Elisabeth of Hungary was born in 1207 at Hungary as a royal princess. After her mother was murdered at a young age, she sought peace through prayer. She married at age 14 to a man named Ludwig whom she greatly loved and she bore three children. She died at the age of 24. Throughout her short life, she has lived a life filled with prayer and service to the poor. According to history, she founded a hospital where she personally attended to the sick. She was a “model for those in authority” as Pope Benedict XVI said. (Source: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=45)
3) St. Peter’s Church (in German: Peterskirche)
Built in 1733, this baroque styled church design was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. It was dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
This is where we got a chance to see a classic ensemble concert live. Vienna being a city of music, we cannot miss seeing an opera concert. They played Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Vivaldi. It was so beautiful!
The Classic Ensemble Vienna occupied by two violins, a cello and a double bass, will take you on a journey of the most beautiful works of European classical music. Including some of the most famous pieces drawn from the repertoire of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi. You can discover, or rediscover, excerpts of such well known works as The Four Seasons, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Bach's Orchestral suites. The musicians of the Classic Ensemble Vienna will provide an unforgettable evening in the capital of classical music.
4) St. Stephen’s Cathedral (in German: Stephansdom)
Located in the heart of Vienna, this cathedral is not to be missed. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Vienna.
With Romanesque Baroque style and a colorful roof, it is a witness to the rich history of Vienna. It went through a destruction in World War II but was reconstructed and now it is very much alive in the centre of the city.
My journey and search for hidden gems, catholic churches and beautiful destinations around the world continue. Until then. Danke!