The 18th century Lichtentaler church now carries the name Schubertkirche and for good reason: Franz Schubert’s early life was intimately tied up with both the church and the surrounding parish.
- Beautiful working baroque church
- Many connections to the life of composer Franz Schubert (e.g. he was an organist here)
The church and Schubert
Emperor Charles VI laid the foundation stone in 1712 and the church has since survived an explosion at a nearby gunpowder facility, floods, the Napoleonic occupation of Vienna and WWII bombing raids largely intact.
The connection to Schubert began with his father, who married here in 1785 and ran the parish school. Schubert himself was born three streets away, and christened in the church in February 1797.
He subsequently sang in the choir, played the organ (his brother Ferdinand was an organist here for many years) and other instruments during recitals and, eventually, composed and conducted music for the church itself.
Various religious pieces from the hand of Schubert premiered here, including his early Mass compositions. His works are still performed at public concerts in the church.
Outside the Schubertkirche is a plaque commemorating the connection, as well as a 20th century bust by the famous Austrian sculptor Gustinus Ambrosi.
The first thing inside the church is a non-descript wall of glass that feels like a disappointment, until you go through its doors and are transported into 18th century Vienna.
Giant stone arches with illusionist paintings create the impression of detail and grandeur. The roof is covered in frescoes illustrating biblical scenes and themes, while the walls feature a series of paintings depicting fourteen stations of the cross. Old wooden pews lead down to the altar and the huge painting of the fourteen holy helpers.
Looking back from the altar you can see the magnificent organ. Although it was refurbished and rebuilt, it still retains some original parts from Schubert’s days. It’s not hard to imagine a bespectacled young lad reveling in a new composition, or simply directing singers and musicians in this beautiful setting.
I was particularly impressed by the richly-decorated raised pulpit that protudes from one wall. From its base hang garlands of sculpted golden flowers and leaves, a theme that pervades elsewhere in the church.
How to get to the Schubertkirche
The church is a short walk from various public transport routes. For example:
- Franz Joseph Bahnhof (railway station), which is served by trams D, 5 and 33, as well as the S40 city train
- Canisiusgasse, on the 37 and 38 tram lines
- Althanstraße, on the D tram line