Tucked away down a 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 early to mid-18th century
- Remarkably still and peaceful atmosphere
- Also hosts classical concerts
- Baroque décor combines an explosion of gold with pastel colours
- Book a classical concert* in the Annakirche
- See also:
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 somewhere Mozart used to perform.
The Annakirche (St. Anne’s church) offers another example.
Sitting somewhat incongruously opposite the New York bar, the building seems to promise down-to-earth interiors.
How wrong can you be?
(Annakirche and Annagasse in a drawing by Salomon Kleiner, engraved by Johann August Corvinus and published by Johann Andreas d. Ä. Pfeffel in 1724; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 105765/13; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
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 lightning strike caused a fire in 1747. As part of the restoration work, Daniel Gran painted fresh ceiling frescoes.
(The main entrance)
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 décor forms a sea of golden saints and angels, marbled russets and browns, pastel blues, pinks and yellows. It all 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.
Concerts, visitor & ticket tips
Entry to the Annakirche as such is free (bear in mind it’s a working church).
Like many city centre churches, the Annakirche also serves as a concert venue.
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 may even feature historical instruments.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
(Nothing on your dates? Try some alternative concerts*)
For more ecclesiastical Baroque magnificence, be sure to wander up Kärntner Straße and turn down the Graben to reach the astonishing Peterskirche (also another popular concert venue, where we enjoyed a lovely ensemble performance).
The old town has a fair few churches to explore, ranging from survivors of medieval times to more recent neogothic giants. Not to mention the landmark Gothic Stephansdom cathedral that dominates the city centre skyline. Find a list here.
How to get to the Annakirche
The Annakirche sits in the pedestrianised heart of the city down a narrow lane leading off the busy Kärntner Straße. (So narrow, in fact, that getting good photos of the church proves quite a challenge.)
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