Kirche Maria Geburt, Vienna:
Church of an Orphanage

One of the many, many Baroque churches that you find around the first district of Vienna is the church "Kirche Maria Geburt" in the third district or Landstraße. It was built in 1742 to supplement an orphanage with spiritual support. Both chapel and orphanage were funded by a private individual, Johann Michael Kienmayer. He was an wealthy enprepreneur who had made a fortune with a spinning company. Was Johann Michael Kienmayer a classic philanthropist? Well, the 20 orphans that stayed in the orphanage had to work in his spinning factory, so one can doubt that he donated the money for the foundation purely out of the goodness of his heart.

Anyway, chapel and orphanage were built and extended only three years later (apparently, the spinning business was doing well). Under the rule of Empress Maria Theresia, the orphanage was extended again and in 1768, the old chapel of the orphanage was demolished and replaced by a proper church. This is what can still be found on the Rennweg Road today, the current Kirche Maria Geburt.

The architect in charge was Thaddäus Karner, the builder that supervised the project was Leopold Grossmann. The opening service was celebrated in December of 1768 by Kardinal Migazzi of Vienna and even Empress Maria Theresia attended. For the occasion, the 12-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had composed the service, which is also known as "Waisenhausmesse" ("Orphanage Mass" - KV 139).

Kirche Maria Geburt goes Parish Church

In 1783, when Emperor Jospeh II dissolved hundreds of monasteries and transformed institutional churches into "useful" parish churches, the Waisenhauskirche was one of these churches that gained a parish. In 1785, the very Emperor even dissolved the orphanage, since he had founded more extensive and modern facilities for orphans - the "Wiener Findelhaus" as one of the biggest orphanages in Europe (see also my article on the Spanish Hospital). The old Waisenhaus was now used by the military and the church served for the local army division.

Until today, the parish church Maria Geburt is locally known as the "Waisenhauskirche", though. The outside is typical for a Rococo church; the interiors are partly neo-Classical. The painting of the central altar was made by Franz Zoller (he of the Lichtentaler Pfarrkirche).

Attractions nearby include the include the Januariuskapelle; the Flak Tower in the Arenbergpark; the Rochusmarkt and church; the Russenkirche St. Nikolaus, the Rabenhof and the Gasometer City; and the Friedhof St. Marx with the tomb of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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Vienna by District

District Overview - 1st (Innere Stadt) - 2nd (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd (Landstraße) - 4th (Wieden) - 5th (Margareten)- 6th (Mariahilf) - 7th (Neubau) - 8th (Josefstadt) - 9th (Alsergrund) - 10th (Favoriten) - 11th (Simmering) - 12th (Meidling) - 13th (Hietzing) - 14th (Penzing) - 15th (Fünfhaus) - 16th (Ottakring) - 17th (Hernals) - 18th (Währing) - 19th (Döbling) - 20th (Brigittenau) - 21st (Floridsdorf) - 22nd (Donaustadt) - 23rd (Liesing) -  Ringstraße - Surroundings

Further Reading

Official Website of Kirche Maria Geburt