Tucked away down a pedestrianised side street in the old town, the Annakirche (St. Anne’s church) promises nothing exceptional from the outside. Slip inside, though, to discover a barrage of baroque glory.
- Early 16th century church, though most of the interior is from the early to mid-18th century
- Remarkably still and peaceful atmosphere
- Baroque decor combines an explosion of gold with pastel colours
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St. Anne’s Church
(The Annakirche tower arrived in 1748, replacing one lost to fire)
Vienna delivers numerous architectural and historical surprises. You find yourself on some innocent side street and it turns out you’re standing outside a building Mozart used to perform in.
And so it is with the Annakirche (St. Anne’s church), found down a small pedestrianised lane leading off the busy Kärntner Straße right in Vienna’s centre.
Sitting somewhat incongruously opposite the New York bar, the building promises down-to-earth interiors with a flyer or two advertising the next parish event.
How wrong can you be?
Entering delivers a double whammy of sensorial delight: the astonishing baroque interior and the extraordinary reverential atmosphere.
The Annakirche serves as an oasis for contemplation and prayer away from the hustle and bustle of a 21st-century city.
Such was the overpowering quiet that I winced at the sound of my pen scratching across the notepad and almost felt unable to move for fear of the noise made by my rustling coat.
(The indistinct mumbled tones of a starting confessional actually came as a relief.)
As for the decorative elements, well, this is baroque splendour with a capital B. And all as pristine as if the craftspeople only just packed up their paints and chisels. Their motto: no stone left untouched or unpainted.
The contrast to the outside architecture is as if someone wrapped a Fabergé egg in brown parcel paper.
As so often with Viennese churches, the Annakirche looks back on a chequered history of rebuilding and renovation.
They consecrated the original church back in the early 1500s and the first (relatively gentle) redecoration took place somewhat over 100 years later. The early 18th century then saw a baroque transformation inside.
The final touches to produce what we more or less see today came about after a fire caused by a lightning strike in 1747. As part of the restoration work, Daniel Gran painted fresh ceiling frescoes.
You find Gran’s work in other impressive locations in Vienna, too. His paintings, for example, decorate the astonishing state hall of the national library.
Architectural frescoes flank those more traditional images on the ceiling, and the general decor forms a sea of golden saints and angels, marbled russets and browns, pastel blues, pinks and yellows. It makes for quite a sight.
The organ might almost be described as subtle in design, though the baroque balustrade it peeps out from more than compensates.
Like many city centre churches, the Annakirche also serves as a concert venue.
At the time of writing, for example, the Classic Exclusive series of concerts plays chamber music from the repertoire of composers closely associated with Vienna: primarily Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Haydn. Selected concerts also feature historical instruments.
How to get to the Annakirche
As mentioned earlier, the Annakirche sits in the pedestrianised heart of the city. You probably reach it best off Kärntner Straße.
Subway: the two main subway stations Stephansplatz (U1 and U3) or Karlsplatz (U1, U2 and U4) get you onto Kärntner Straße.
Tram/bus: take the 1, 2, D or 71 trams to the Karlsplatz/Oper stop and walk up into the centre. The old town bus lines also stop nearby: take the 2A to Albertinaplatz or Kärntner Straße, for example.
Address: Annagasse 3b, 1010 Vienna | Website