Maria am Gestade, Vienna:
Gothic Church in Central Vienna

Maria am Gestade is a Gothic church in the city centre of Vienna, the so-called "Innere Stadt" or first district. It can be found near the Donaukanal, which the church overlooks from a gentle hill. Traditionally, Maria am Gestade was the church of sailors that worked on the docks of the Danube. The name refers to the "Gestade" or shores of the Danube - which extended until the base of the hill before it was trained and the city was fortified. Personally, I quite like the building for its plain Gothic-ness and the unpretentious impression it makes. It is assumed that the site has been occupied by a church as early as in the 9th century. If this was to be the case, it was probably a simple wooden chapel used by fishermen and local settlers.

In Medieval Vienna, the property was subject to complicated ownership changes: The Bishop of Passau (whose diocese included Vienna back then), the Schottenstift Abbey and various local burgher families were among the many owners. By 1330, a church on the site went to the noble family von Greif, who had the main nave rebuilt and extended. It is likely that they wanted to use the church as a family′s tomb. Later, the church went to the bishop of Passau again, who kept it beyond the year 1469, when Vienna became home to a bishop with his own diocese.

During the following centuries, the church was used as a parish church, but from what I could find, without any major events. By the 18th century, is was in very bad shape and mass was not read anymore. Maria am Gestade was used as a storage hall. Napoleonic troops used the church as a stable. In 1812, Maria am Gestade was given to the Redemptorist order, after the windows had been removed to go to the "Franzensburg" in the parks of Schloss Laxenburg.

Maria am Gestade going Redemptorist

The Redemptorist order had been founded in the 18th century and just been "legalised" again after its temporary dissolution in Habsburg lands. Now the Redemptorists expanded again. The Redemptorist monk Klemens Maria Hofbauer died in 1820. Klemens Maria Hofbauer′s body was transferred to Maria am Gestade in 1862 - in 1905, he was sanctified, and became the patron saint of Vienna in 1912.

Back to the story of Maria am Gestade: In 1900 and again in 1930 and in the late 1990ies, the church was renovated. The most characteristic feature of Maria am Gestade is the tower, which symbolises a crown for the Virgin Mary. I always thought it was neo-Gothic and dated back to the renovations of the 19th century, but in fact, it is properly Medieval: The crown was built between 1419 and 1428 and can be spotted even on Medieval depictions of Vienna. The interiors are a combination of artwork from the 14th and 15th century and facsimiles from the 20th century. There are various indications that craftsmen who were also in charge with the construction of the Minoritenkirche and the Stephansdom contributed to Maria am Gestade.

Attractions nearby include the Ruprechtskirche, the Stadttempel and the Böhmische Hofkanzlei as well as the Altes Rathaus. The Renaissance chapel of Salvatorkapelle is not far, nor are the Vermählungsbrunnen, Judenplatz and Ankeruhr.

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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 Maria am Gestade & the Redemptorists

Wikipedia on Maria am Gestade

Nice pictures of Maria am Gestade