I read that this monument is a remarkable example of what is called "high baroque"!
In french the word "Baroque" means also "weird, unexpected."
Imo the term "kitsch" is very suitable since my usual French dictionary Le Petit Robert defines "kitsch" by extension as "Baroque bad taste and provocative."
I would like to add that despite this strange monument I love very much Vienna which is one of my favorite cities concerning museums, palaces, monuments, operas and architecture.
The paradox is that this Pestsaule is in the center of the Graben which adorns many buildings of beautiful architecture.
I do as the Viennese when I pass the Pestsaule, I look away. It is not really a "thing to do" so that I fully agree with the comment of a connoisseur like VT member "von.otter".
Plague column stands just in famous Graben street, that is known not only for high detailed architecture, nice atmosphere, but also for huge prices of goods here.
Plague column was build after long construction years in 1693 by Lodovico Burnacini, also more constructors were working to make this high Baroque style sculpture. It later influenced architecture of other plague columns in Austria.
Like in many Catholic areas, also Vienna has a Plague Column. My opinion is somewhere between "kitsch" and "beautiful" - mainly because it is a good example of baroque art. It later influenced the style of similar columns in the Austrian Empire. The column blends religious and royal (nationalist) elements as it stands for the superation of the last big plague epidemy in 1679 as well as the big Turkish Siege in 1683. Therefore, you will find angels, crosses and religious inscriptions together with coats of arms and a statue of Emperor Leopold I. There is a legend that the artist gave Leopold an ugly face after he was not given the full payment for his work. Therefore, the statue is often called by the nickname "Fotzenpoidl". It is worth to see this monument - not only because it is one of the liveliest shopping streets, but also to get an idea of the importance of these events for the Viennese.
In the Graben Square in central Vienna, one can see a statue called the Pestsaule. The statue is impressive and would make a nice travel photo for tourists. However, the history is not something to be happy about. It was commissioned by Emperor Leopold I to Virgin Mary to thank her for intervention to quell the pestilence and other scourges which had hit Vienna from time to time, mainly the bubonic plague that hit Vienna in 1679 taking the lives of about 75,000 people. The statue was erected in 1693.
This Baroque Column was built as a memorial to the plague, which swept through the city in 1679. the column and memorial was commisioned by Emperor Leopold I and was designed by Matthias Rauchmiller, Lodovico Bernhard and J.B. Fischer von Erlach.
The monument depicts a wretched woman, representing the plague, watched over by an angel. the emperor sits atop the column praying.
“In the middle stands a monumental column that looks very much like a dice tumbler.”
— Gérard de Nerval, (1808–1855), French poet, on the Pestsäule, the Plague Column
In Sickness and Health—The Pestsäule (the Plague Column) is sometimes known as the Trinity Column. The Viennese hold this monumental thanksgiving offering, designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, between 1713 and 1714, in high esteem. It stands 69-feet tall on the fashionable shopping boulevard known as the Graben; it was commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I (kneeling at the center of photo #2) to give thanks to God for the cessation of the plague that had ravaged the city in 1679.
Like so much, in so many tourist cities, the Pestsäule is not something that one does. Because it stands on a shopping street, one passes it by as one goes about from here to there. One takes note of it, perhaps appreciates it for the history it represents or the beauty it has; but the Pestsäule is not really “a thing to do,” as a museum is “a thing to do.”
It is such a frothy, Baroque, very Viennese object, I would encourage a visitor to take a look at the Pestsäule.
Pestsaule – the monument which was built after demand of imperator Leopold, is located in one of the busiest parts of the city. He asked to build it after the big plague epidemic at the end of 17th century. At the top of the monument one can see the imperator who prays, in the middle part there are many figures which show that praying can win the plague.
The street is also very popular with its’ many shops.
This memorial is a Plague Column, that was erected at this location in 1693 in celebration of the end of the epidemic. In 1679 between 75,000 & 150,000 people fell victim to the Plague. There are many other similar columns all over Austria.
Vienna was devestated by the plague in the middle to late 1600's. Emperor Leopold I vowed to commerate Vienna's deliverence from the plague and had this column commissioned. The baroque style column has an angel and a saint like figure supervising the destruction of some sort of hag who represented the plague. We saw similiar plague columns in Slovakia at Bratislava and in the Czech Republic at Kunta Hora. This column is Vienna is probably the most ornate of the three that we saw.
The Pestsaue, or Plague Column, is a Baroque sculpture given to the city by Leopold I. He gave this during the Great Plague of 1679. It is the most eye-catching structure on Graben, which is full of eye-catching things.
Designed in the structure are beautiful angels on clouds and a trinity sculpture at the top. There were three artists that created the structure: Burnacini created the cloud obelisk, von Erlach the base reliefs and Strudel the sculptures.
There is meaning in the carvings at the base: “Faith defeats the plague”.
Emperor Leopold I vowed to celebrate the city's deliverance from the plague of 1679. When the plague was over he commissioned Matthias Rauchmiller, Lodovico Burnacini and Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach to build this Baroque plague column. It shows a saintly figure and an angel supervising the destruction og a hag (this represents the plague) and above the Emperor is praying.
J.B. Fischer von Erlach lived 1656 -1723 and he designed many of Vienna's best buildings including Schonbrunn Palace. He died before the Karlskirche was completed and this was finished by his son in 1737.
The baroque Plague Column was originally a wooden one- it is replaced to a marble one.
It is also called the Holy Trinity column (note the gilded copper top) and was erected by Emperor Leopold I in thanskgiving after the fulfilment of an oath he made during the plague epidemic in 1679 and I think this must have been the first. (Vienna was hit by several plagues from 1670s to mid 1700s)
Also worthy to note is that there are similar plague column over much of Austria; we saw one at Baden which intrigued me more.
Visit the pedestrian-only Graben. It is home to lots of pricey stores and outdoor cafes. There is also a memorial, the Pestsaule, to those who perished in the plague of 1679.
It is one of the most fashionable districts in one of the most fashionable cities in the world.
This column was erected in 1679 by order of Emporer Leopold I after the city escaped a majoroutbreak of the plague.
The Pestsaule has many haunting carvings. This one shows a religious figure and an angel destroying a woman representing the plague. Take your time to notice the detail of this monument.