Votive Church Vienna

The Votive Church in Vienna, Austria is considered as one of the more notable neo-Gothic churches today. It is specifically located at the Ringstrasse in the district of Alsergrund near the University of Vienna. Its existence was made possible by a stroke of history that may be unlike how other churches may have originated. It was built as a monument of thanksgiving for a failed assassination attempt on Emperor Franz Joseph, hence its name.

Votive Church History

The Votive Church came as a result of a failed assassination attempt on the life of the young Emperor Franz Joseph. While Franz Joseph was taking a stroll along a city bastion, he was attacked with a knife by a Hungarian nationalist Janos Libenyi. He was stabbed in the neck area but was fortunately saved by the sturdy material that made up the enclosed collar of his uniform. The assassin was subdued by the emperor’s accompanying officer along with another person who happens to be nearby.

As an act of thanksgiving for the failed assassination attempt, the emperor’s brother, Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, suggested erecting a church in the site of the failed attack. The church was said to become a votive offering for the rescue of Franz Joseph and so was known as the Votive Church.

Votive Church Features

The Votive Church was initially planned sometime in 1854 when an architectural competition for the eventual design of the church was conducted. The jury chose the design created by Heinrich von Ferstel, which was of the neo-Gothic architectural style. Construction of the church began in 1856. It was completed in 1879.

The Votive Church stands 85 meters high and 55 meters wide. Its nave stretches for 30 meters. It is considered as one of the very first buildings constructed on the Ringstrasse. It was primarily built as a garrison church to serve the soldiers since it was built within the city walls that existed then.

The Votive Church was mainly built out of sandstone. And because of the primary material used to build the church, it required constant attention to protect it from air pollution and acid rain which tend to stain and erode the soft stone of the church. The church has gone through several extensive renovations especially after being badly damaged during World War II.

The Votive Church has a facade that features two slimline towers three gabled portals, typical of Gothic cathedral architecture. Its frontal exterior is heavily decorated with carvings of Jesus, his apostles and many other prophets and saints. It has a central portal that is twice as wide as its side portals. The interior consists of a central nave and two aisles that are crossed by a transept. Most of the features found inside the church, including the frescoes, chandeliers, the organ, confessionals and the bells are over 120 years old.

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