Griechenkirche St. Georg, Vienna:
Vienna′s second Greek Orthodox Church
If you ask people in the first district for the Greek Orthodox church, they will send you straight to the large, historicist building by Theophil Hansen in the Rotenturmstraße. What most tourists do not notice, however, is that there are actually two Greek orthodox churches in the city centre of Vienna, the other one being the Griechenkirche St. Georg just around the corner of the more famous (and more noticeable) Hansen-church.
By the time that the Griechenkirche was built, the entire area was dominated by walls and bastions that fortified Vienna′s access to the Danube canal. If you happen to go by the subway station of Schwedenplatz, have a look at the historic photographs on display by the platforms: They give you a good idea of what the area has looked like until the demolition of the city walls. The little lanes and small houses near the Griechenbeisel pub were a popular meeting spot for the small, but relatively privileged community of Greek tradesmen.
With the Toleranzpatent of Emperor Joseph II, non-Catholic communities were granted the right to build churches in Austria; they had to be neutral, though, and were not to be recognised from the outside as a church. The Greek community collected money and later, between 1803 and 1806, the Greek transformed another inn in the neighbourhood, the so-called "Küss den kleinen Pfenning" Inn, into a church.
One of Two Greek-Orthodox Churches in Vienna's Centre
After building regulations had been liberalised, the new Greek church by Theophil Hansen was built (see the appropriate article for details). The "old" Greek church became less significant, until it was remodelled and extended in 1898. This was done with the financial aid by a wealthy merchant of Greek origin, Nikolaus Dumba.
The stained glass windows were destroyed in the course of World War II, but restored to a certain extent according to the original designs. The inside of the church is plain and contains - surprise - icons of St. George, the Virgin Mary and various saints. There are also five large paintings by the Greek painter Constantinos Parthenis and a rather elaborate chandelier in the central cupola (unexpected if you look at the church from outside) and a depiction of the four evangelists. The Griechenkirche St. Georg is surrounded by Greek restaurants, even though the "Greek nature" of the neighbourhood is mostly historical.
Attractions nearby are numerous; walking down Rotenturmstraße, you will get to the Kammeroper, the Kornhäuselturm, the Stadttempel synagogue, the Kirche St. Ruprecht and - a bit off that route - the Hoher Markt Square with the Vermählungsbrunnen and the Ankeruhr clock. In the other direction you will find the Kirche St. Barbara, the Dominikanerkirche, the Jesuite Church and the Alte Aula as well as the Heiligenkreuzerhof with the Bernardiskapelle.
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