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 christened here and sang in the choir)
- See also: Schubert locations in Vienna | Vienna churches
The church and Schubert
Emperor Charles VI laid the foundation stone for the Schubertkirche in 1712, though nobody at that ceremony probably imagined quite what that building would eventually go through.
A reconstruction and expansion project a few decades after construction is par for the course for old churches. But an explosion at a nearby gunpowder facility, floods, the Napoleonic occupation of Vienna, and WWII bombing raids don’t normally trouble most places of worship. The Schubertkirche survived all of these, though.
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.
The famous composer 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. Public concerts in the church still perform his works.
Outside the Schubertkirche, a plaque commemorates the connection, as does a 20th century bust by the famous Austrian sculptor, Gustinus Ambrosi.
The first thing you encounter 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. Roof frescoes illustrate 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.
A look back down the church from the altar reveals, of course, the magnificent organ. Although it has been 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 protrudes from one wall. Garlands of sculpted golden flowers and leaves hang from its base, and this theme pervades the whole church.
How to get to the Schubertkirche
The building is a short walk from various public transport routes. For example:
- Franz Josefs Bahnhof (railway station), which is served by trams 1, D, 5 and 33, as well as the S40 city train
- Canisiusgasse, on the 37 and 38 tram lines
- Althanstraße, on the 1, 33 and D tram lines
Address: Marktgasse 40, 1090 Vienna | Website