Kirche St. Nikolaus zu Stammersdorf:
A neglected church in Floridsdorf, Vienna

The 21st district of Vienna, Floridsdorf, is generally neglected by tourists: Beyond the Danube, it is not only peripheral; Floridsdorf also lacks the grand attractions that international visitors want to see in Vienna. Much of the 21st district is residential, its residents are generally not overly affluent and the district has a distinct suburban atmosphere. A pretty church often - or essentially always - neglected by international visitors is the Kirche St. Nikolaus zu Stammersdorf.

Since the 10th or 11th century, the neighbourhood of Stammersdorf was an independent village and a separate parish at least since the 14th century. Some documents on Austrian parishes that might include the church pre-date this period; however, the oldest definite record for a parish church in Stammersdorf dates back to 1352. Nevertheless, the core of the church is certainly Romanesque and dates to the 12th century, when Stammersdorf was a farming community with only two stone buildings: The church and a little castle (of which only foundations have survived; they were later included into other buildings).

History of Kirche St. Nikolaus zu Stammersdorf

The Kirche St. Nikolaus was somewhat unfortunate to be outside of Vienna′s city walls and other fortifications (Linienwall). This resulted in several attempts to destroy the Kirche St. Nikolaus, some of them successful. The church was particularly severely battered in the course of the Hungarian War of 1484; the First Turkish Siege of Vienna (1529); the 30-Years-War due to advances of the Swedish army; the Second Turkish Siege of Vienna (1683 - the worst sequel until the launch of "Matrix III"); and finally the attack of Napoleonic France on Vienna in 1809 with subsequent looting.

Surprisingly, the church kept being fixed or re-built whenever necessary, which is good. However, the repeated destruction of the Kirche St. Nikolaus zu Stammersdorf also led to a particularly severe mix of styles, which is bad. Baroque is the dominant style, even though much of it originates in the 19th century and is fake. In 1868, the church was renovated extensively and equipped with a new altar painting - by simply painting over the previous, Baroque one. This was done by the local artist Josef Kastner and his two daughters. It wasn′t until 1984 that the old painting was recovered in the process of an extensive renovation effort. The altar is flanked by two statues of saints, namely St. Henry (Heinrich der Heilige) and St. Leopold, patron saint of Lower Austria.

Particularly picturesque is the atmosphere around the Kirche St. Nikolaus: It still gives you the idea of a typical village in Lower Austria and demonstrates that Stammersdorf was a tiny settlement until fairly recently. Note the Pestsäule or Plague Column on the "village square" in front of the church St. Nikolaus. Stammersdorf is one of the few areas in Floridsdorf that have preserved a village charm. Do enjoy it - as far as I can think of this district now, there are neither noteworthy attractions nor other reasons to go to Stammerdorf or its surroundings. That being said, I am not an expert for transdanubian Vienna. For further information on the area, see my general introduction to Floridsdorf in the Vienna district overview.

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Further Reading

Website of the Parish Stammersdorf

Picture of St. Nikolaus in Stammerdorf on Wikipedia