A Break from Baroque: Maria am Gestade

I am so glad I found out about these quick tours of various sites around the city that are offered by a member of our local women’s association. This week, we visited Maria am Gestade, a church that forms part of the terrific view from our living room. Visiting hours are limited, so I have walked past it a million times, but never gone inside.

“Maria of the Shores” is one of the oldest churches in Vienna. Sitting atop a little hill, it once overlooked the Danube. (The river has since changed course and was diverted permanently when the Danube Canal was built in the 19th century.) Traces of the wall that once encircled Roman Vindabona can be seen in the church foundations. Winding medieval streets and some of the oldest houses in Vienna surround it.

The first church was supposedly built on the site in the 9th century by grateful sailors. In the 12th century, it was rebuilt in the Romanesque style, and renovated in the Gothic style in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Later on, it was de-consecrated and used for, among other things, a pawn shop and a stable for Napoleon’s horses.

Finally, in the mid-19th century, it was restored quite nicely in the Gothic style and dedicated to Saint Clement Maria Hofbauer, an 18th century Moravian priest who is also one of the patron saints of Vienna.

The current church is a mix of original medieval and 19th century construction and artwork. It all comes together pretty well, and is a nice break from the Baroque overload of most other churches here.

Click any photo to open a slide show with captions.

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