Karlskirche Vienna

Karlskirche Vienna is the most significant Baroque building in Vienna, commissioned to be built by Emperor Karl VI.

The building was designed by one of the most important historical Viennese architects, Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach…

…with work commencing in 1716, and the building completed in 1739.

Karlskirche Vienna Austria

PHOTO: Karlskirche facade, highlighted by its magnificent columns. The columns were added to the design with inspiration taken from Trajan’s Column, in Rome.

Karlskirche angel statue Vienna Austria

PHOTO: Angel statue, located next to the stairs up to the main entrance. To get to the church, however, you have to use a side entrance (to the left of the picture).

Vota mea reddam in conspectu timentium Deum

PHOTO: Latin text on the facade reads: “Vota mea reddam in conspectu timentium Deum“…or, in English “I fulfill my promise in front of those who respect God“, a reference to Emperor Karl VI’s promise to build a church, if and when Vienna would survive the 1713 plague epidemic.

To build the church, there were both spiritual as well as political reasons behind the construction.

For spiritual reasons, it was consecrated to Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, considered a guardian saint for healing from plague…a relevant reference, as Vienna had just lived through the plague epidemic of 1713.

Political reasons, and why there are so many references to ancient Rome in the building, was Vienna’s role as the ‘new Rome‘ at the time…

…a capital for the Holy Roman Empire, with the church underlining Karl IV’s role as the new ‘Imperator Romanus’ — title, whose first holder was Julius Caesar himself.

Among the most important details in the church are its two 33-meter(108 ft) tall victory columns, built with Trajan column (in Rome) as an inspiration.

Also, there’s the 72 meter (236 ft) tall church dome, using the style of St Peter’s basilica (also in Rome), built architecturally harmoniously to the columns.

Inside the church, the highlights include the finest church altar in Vienna. It was designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach himself.

Another major artwork at the church is its dome frescoes, by Johann M. Rottmayr.

Karlskirche Vienna
Address: Kreuzherrengasse 1, 1040 Vienna, Austria
Official website: Karlskirche.at

When the frescoes were made, the propaganda against (Catholic) reform movements of the time was included in the field of religious art….

…and as an example of this, the church fresco has an angel setting fire on Martin Luther’s writings, within a section of the fresco called ‘Victory Over Lutheran Heresy‘.