In 1722 Vienna became an archdiocese, a recognition by the Catholic Church
of its importance and a decision welcomed by Emperor Charles VI who, more than others, regarded Vienna as a new Rome,
the capital of an empire which encompassed many different nationalities. His views were also the result
of a series of events which had largely expanded the possessions of the (Austrian) Habsburgs.
Charles VI became emperor in 1711 and two years later at the end of the Spanish Succession War
he had to give up his rights to the crown of Spain: in return however he got the Lower Netherlands, Milan,
Naples and Sardinia (a few years later exchanged for Sicily): in 1699 the Peace of Carlowitz
had defined the new border with the Ottoman Empire; the Habsburgs had gained most of today's Hungary and
parts of today's Croatia and Romania. In 1718 the Peace
of Passarowitz led to further expansion into Serbia (Belgrade) and Romania (Walachia).
Notwithstanding the lack of colonies, the empire of Charles VI became the major European power. The Austrian economist Philipp Wilhelm von Hornigk could write: "Austria can achieve everything, if she so wants".
This new role of the empire and of its capital is reflected in the churches which were built in this period and in the new decoration of older churches.
The church was built on a previous medieval religious building between 1702 and 1733: the initial
design by Gabriele Montani was completed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt,
one of the major architects of XVIIIth century Vienna. The church is located on a small
square at the end of a short street off the Graben, where the inhabitants of Vienna promenaded;
its design is clearly influenced by its view from the Graben, with the two bell towers
closing on the dome "to stay" in the picture. The bell towers do not have that vertical thrust
which characterizes many Austrian churches, they definitely remind of those of S. Agnese in Agone in Rome (which are shown
in the image used as a background for this page).
The entrance is decorated with lead statues as in Vienna this material was preferred to bronze. The location of the statue of St. Peter is rather unusual: in a small niche in the back of the church.
Interiors of Annakirche and Franziskanerkirche
Brown and gold are the prevailing colours in the interior of the churches of Vienna: a more Roman
atmosphere can be caught in the lavish interior of Annakirche, marked by the
presence of two green columns.
The architect who designed the decoration of a chapel in Franziskanerkirche had for sure seen the stucco curtain of Cappella di S. Luigi by Plautilla Bricci in S. Luigi dei Francesi.
Interiors of Peterskirche and Servitenkirche showing episodes of St. John Nepomuk's life
Events of the life of St. John Nepomuk were one of the recurring subjects of statues and
reliefs decorating the interior of churches: on the left the martyrdom of the saint,
thrown in the river because he would not disclose to the king, what the queen had told him in confession; on the
right the confession itself. The Kingdom of Bohemia was a key part of the empire and therefore the
Habsburgs had also a political objective in promoting the devotion to this Bohemian saint.
The majority of the churches built in Vienna in the XVIIIth century were erected in the new settlements outside the walls and are shown in separate pages.
Pages in this section of the website in recommended order:
Introduction: the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations
The 1683 Siege of Vienna
XVIIth century churches
XVIIth century palaces
Monuments celebrating the end of plagues
The walls of Vienna
XVIIIth century churches
XVIIIth century palaces
Italian sculpture and sculptors
A political manifesto: Karlskirche
Churches without the walls
Palaces and Villas without the walls
A day in the countryside: Perchtoldsdorf