After sitting on the ornate pews (see detail on my photo) I looked around and my attention was caught by the pulpit of Matthias Steindl (1716) with its numerous gilded sculptures. The parapet shows the young Jesus teaching in the Temple of Jerusalem. On the sounding board is a representation of the Trinity. Somewhat excessive but one has to get used.
On the right and opposite the pulpit is a spectacular and dramatic sculpture group in gold and silver by Lorenzo Mattielli (1729). I had seen this scene somewhere but didn't remember. Actually its depicts the martyr St. John Nepomuk being thrown off the Charles Bridge in Prague and is one of the well known statues standing on that bridge.
Spectacular are also the reliquary shrines containing the bones of two martyrs found in the Roman catacombs and brought to Vienna in 1733 by a cardinal and clothed like usual at that time.
If you turn towards the back of the church you will see a very beautiful Baroque organ.
There are often organ concerts in the evening. They are mostly free but it is usual to leave a gift for the restoration of organ and church.
I must confess that on my visits of Vienna, churches were not "things to see" that made me jump of enthusiasm on the contrary of some monuments and especially the content of several museums.
Probably that after visiting the churches of Krakow and more recently revisiting the churches of Rome I found that Wien capital of the Habsbourg Empire is under doing in the field of monumental churches. I wrote it already here; I'm not "begeistert" by the Stephansdom and the Karlskirche left me with perplexity.
Consequently I was happy that I followed the excellent reviews of connoisseur Nicolaitan about the St-Peterskirche outside and inside. I did not regret my visit; this church is now also my favorite Vienna church.
Actually this Baroque church (from 1708 by Lukas von Hildebrand) looks rather small from outside especially from the Graben passing at only 50 m from the front but she is harmonious. It's difficult to imagine that the original Roman church goes back to the 4th c. meaning that this is the most ancient church of Vienna. The Baroque interior has been renovated in 2001-04 so that it is shining gold, silver and bright colors everywhere.
Fans of Bernini or Borromini might regret the Italian Baroque but for me in Wien it is my favorite church, what does not mean that the St-Peterskirche is top 1 of the Baroque style in my opinion. It is certainly an agreeable place where to sit down and look around detailing the various works of art.
It is thought that Peterskirche, the beautiful Baroque church that all but fills the space of a small square off Graben, sits on the site of the first church in Vienna, built in the 4th century when Graben was part of the moat built around the Roman city of Vindobona. It is known that a church was built here (reputedly by Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor) in the 9th century though nothing remains of that church either as, having been badly damaged in by fire in 1661, it was totally demolished to make way for the splendid church that stands today. The impetus for this was, like the Pestsäule on Graben, the city' s survival of the plague in 1679.
A grand gesture was required for such a thanksgiving, but the site of the old church was restricted by the buildings that had grown up all around the square. The solution was to build an oval church topped by a great copper dome. The close confinement of the church makes for a dramatic view of the facade as it is all but hidden by the surrounding buildings until you are right in front of it. Cool white stone and verdigrised copper on the outside gives way to an explosion of Baroque gilded stucco and fresco inside. This is the most richly decorated church interior in Vienna. A recent 6 year programme of restoration has seen the grime of 300 years removed and the church now looks as bright and pristine as it must have looked when it was newly built.
Side chapels contain the rather macabre relics of martyrs brought from the catacombs of Rome . Dressed in 18th century clothes, they lie like slightly gruesome Snow Whites in their glass coffins.
The relatively unadorned exterior does not prepare one for the Baroque overkill of this church's interior. Against a background of marble and golden stucco, remarkable statues and frescoes fill the main chamber as well as 6 side chapels. The rich color of the paintings has been recently restored.
The high altar was designed and constructed in Bologna by Martino Altamonte and others depicting the Healing of the Lame by St. Peter and St. John in Jerusalem ( image 5 ). Above the high altar is a 19thC painting of the Immaculate Conception by Kupelwieser. In the dome, which is not well lit and difficult to see and photograph is a Johann Rottmayr fresco of The Assumption of Our Lady.
To either side of the main aisle before the high altar ( image 1 ) are two of the church's most revered possessions. On the left is an ornate gilded pulpit ( image 4 ) by Matthias Steinl (1726) who also designed the dome of the church. The canopy represents the Holy Trinity.
Opposite is a massive and gaudy gold and silver depiction of the martyrdom of St. John Nepemunk ( image 2 ), also one of the best known statues on the Charles Bridge in Prague ( the full story of the legend of St. John is in my Prague pages on statues of the bridge ). It was sculpted by Lorenzo Mattieli. Just above is a figure of Mary.
Adjacent side chapels ( image 3 ) contain the remains of martyrs dressed in 17thC period clothing and visible in glass cases. For those who might be interested. Rich restored paintings range from the Holy Family to St. Michael overlooking the memorialized martyrs.
The church of S. Peter, situate on one small recess on the northern side of the Graben, adorned from the baroque facade of the Pfarrhaus, attributed to G. Montani (1697-98). This church is one of the most meant examples of religious baroque architecture of lnnere Stadt, it is of ancient origin - it is said founded from Carl Magno in the 792 - but was rifared completely in baroque shapes in 1703-15 on design of Gabriel Montani and J.L. von Hildebrand. To these the nice concave facade, tightened between two bell towers, and the
majestic cupola that surpasses it; the protiro to canopy was designed by T. Altomonte (1753); on the back of the church there are statues of S. Peter and the archangel Michael work of L. Mattielli (1730).
My favorite Vienna church is the St. Peter's, located just off and visible only from the Graben near the Pestsaule monument. The relatively small and simple facade masks a large ovoid interior lavishly fitted out - the most ornate Baroque church in Vienna.
A church is believed to have occupied this site as early as the 4th C and legend has Charlemagne replacing the original with a Romanesque church around 800 AD. After several other reincarnations, the modern day building was begun by Emperor Leopold I in thanks for deliverance from the plague in 1679-80. Under the direction of Gabriele Montani and then the ubiquitous Johann von Hildebrandt construction lasted 20 years from 1703-22. It was the first domed church in Vienna. St. Peter's in Rome was used as a model.
The exterior is simple but striking, pale yellow and white with towers that turn inward and turrets created to resemble tents used by the Turkish army. Statue-filled niches feature important saints. To the right facing the facade is a representation of Charlemagne directing the building of the church, unfortunately on the wrong side of the building for most tourists.
The original church dates back to the Middle Ages but nothing is left of that building today. The present baroque building was built in the 18th century and is mind boggling in its ornateness. It's the one with the green dome which is tucked away in a lane way off Graben.
In 1970 the church was handed over to the Opus Dei movement.
If you only visit one church in all of Vienna, make sure this is the one you choose.
It really depends on your teens' interests but generally the following should be well received (just pick and choose):
Preparation: For kids a trip is usually more interesting if they know a bit in advance. If you haven't seen The Third Man I recommend that you either rent the DVD or watch it at Burg Kino sometime during your stay. Another way of preparing the teens is to watch Before Sunrise together.
General tip: Make sure you get enough time to walk around in 1st district and take tram 1 or 2 along the Ringstrasse to get a glimpse of Vienna's most important sites and to orient yourselves.
Prater - the ferris wheel plus other attractions and then a stroll or a bike ride in the park. (Bikes can be rented from www.pedalpower.at) If you get hungry, buy sausages from the stands. I wouldn't go to the restaurants in Prater.
Concerts - classical if the teens can stand it, for example in Konzerthaus or Musikverein or even the Opera. One of the "musts". Otherwise, Vienna is great for jazz as well, for example at Tunel in Florianigasse in 8th district, Miles Smiles in Lange Gasse in 8th district or Porgy and Bess in Riemergasse in 1st district.
Museums - there are loads of museums and they are all great. Some of the most popular ones are the museums in Museum quarter (for example Leopold Museum), which also has several great cafes. The Museum of Art History and The Museum of Natural History are also fantastic, as are the building themselves. Albertina also has some fabulous exhibitions. Another place for art would be Belvedere, which is also a castle surrounded by a park. Honestly not my favourite but popular among tourists. There are some weird museums too, for example the Funeral Museum in Goldeggasse in 4th district and Narrenturm, the Pathology Museum in 9th district (Campus) (limited opening hours, see http://www.narrenturm.at/). Many younger people find the Hundertwasser builiding Kunsthaus Wien interesting, in 3rd district. Can be combined with Prater. Funny cafe inside. The impressive Hofburg is also worth seeing, at least from the outside. I personally find the Prunksaal at the National Library (part of the complex) stunning.
Schönbrunn Palace - I haven't been inside the castle, it is apparently stunning. The building and park are simply overwhelming. Take a stroll in the park, bring along nuts and feed the squirrels. Can be combined with a visit to the Zoo and the carriage museum.
Memorials - there are plenty of them. Many great artists and intellectuals were born, lived and died in Vienna (such as Mozart, Beethoven, Klimt etc.)
Cafes - you won't be able to visit all the cafes worth visiting. Try out the very best - for coffee, cakes or even lunch/dinner: Cafe Hawelka, Cafe Prückel, Demel (amazing cakes), Cafe Eiles, Cafe Central, Cafe Sperl etc. (you can generally trust the guidebook's recommendation) - or something "younger"; Phil in Gumpendorferstrasse in 6th distict, which is a shop and cafe.
Churches - the must-see is Stephansdom but Peterskirche and Karlskirche are also beautiful. An interesting option is Michaelerkirche (near Hofburg) with mumified bodies from 18th century in the basement.
Markets - Naschmarkt between 4th and 6th district with food stalls and restaurants. (I guess you teens will like the coffee place called Mocca Club too). On Saturdays there is a flea market too.
For some fresh air, take for example tram 38 to 19th district and walk around in Grinzing. A bus trip to Leopoldsberg (bus 38A), lunch at the restaurant and then a walk down along the vineyards is also a classic. Other outdoor activities are inlineskating or bikeriding on Donauinsel (U1 station Donauinsel). There are also several wonderful churchyards, for example Zentralfriedhof which is huge - tram line 71 from Schwarzenbergplatz, or Hietzinger Friedhof near Schönbrunn or Döblinger Friedhof which can be combined with a walk in the lovely Türkenschanzpark and a visit to the charming Cafe Salettl, beautiful view from there.
St. Peters is the second oldest church in Vienna, and is classified as one of Vienna's most beautiful and famous churches. It was another Church that looked cramped situated between the other tall buildings.
Vienna's first Christian church, which happened to be a Roman church for the Roman camp was situated here. This was later replaced by a Romanesque church, then the one I was seeing today, that was built at the beginning of the 18th century.
ENTRY IS FREE so I went inside only to find Mass was about to begin and that I couldn't have a look at the interior. Holy Mass has been celebrated daily at St. Peter's for 1600 years.
All I saw, was from where I entered. Later I returned and saw the beautiful interior of this Church.
If the same happens to you, do return to see the fresco in the dome, which depicts the coronation of the Virgin, many other frescoes, the gilded carved wood, and beautiful altarpieces. It really has a stunning baroque interior and shouldn't be missed!
Opening hours of the Church
Monday - Friday: 7-10pm
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 9 am-9 pm
It is a true copy of the Church in Rome and there is hypotesis that before this church there was another one from late Roman period around 792 AC established by King Carl The Great but first written claims are just from year 1137. In 18CT the church got its recent look and it is a work of Gabriel Montani and Lukas von Hildebrandt.
Empress Elizabeth often spent there hours praying alone.
Right off of Graben, in a small little nook, lies the Petersplatz. The defining, and only piece of architecture in the square is the Peterskirche. Believed to be built on the site of a church built in 792 by Charlemagne, this church was built in 1708. The defining thing about this church was the doorway, being fabulously detailed. Otherwise, the church seemed kind of bland when compared to the other great churches of Vienna.
The Baroque Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) is a church with a long and interesting history. Some believe that it was established by Charlemagne around 800 A.D., although there is no evidence supporting this view. The construction of the existing Baroque church on the site began in 1701 -- and the church was consecrated in 1733.
Peterskirche is located on Petersplatz in Vienna's 1st district, right next to Graben and just west of the Pestsäule. The Peterskirche is largely obscured by the surrounding buildings, and can only be seen clearly from directly in front.