Friday 29 April 2016

The Freyung

The Freyung is a medieval market place that is surrounded by fine palaces and churches.

The square's name which roughly translates as 'freeing' is a reference to the fact that it was originally outside the jurisdiction of the city's law enforcement - it was a place where fugitives could be granted asylum.

The northern part of the square is dominated by the buildings of the Schottenstift (Scottish Monastery),  a complex of beautiful baroque structures. The monastery was founded by a group of Irish (not Scottish) monks in 1155. They remained in Vienna until 1418, when dwindling numbers forced them to leave, and the monastery was passed to the Benedictine order that remains in residence to this day.

The centrepiece of the complex is the Schottenkirche, baroque in design that dates from the mid-17th century.

The interior is lavish but not overwhelming.

The columns and arches are painted in pastel shades and capped with decorative stucco work, while the barrel-vaulted ceiling is covered by several large frescoes depicting biblical scenes.

We then walked through this archway and into

this small garden

which is surrounded by buildings, including this one, that used to be Franz Liszt's house.

The area around the market was once very popular with Vienna's aristocratic families, who built enormous palaces around the square.

The most impressive is the Palais Kinsky designed in the early 18th century by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. For this building he had to try to squeeze all his usual grandeur into a plot of land just 30 by 100 yards. He created an imposing façade that manages to be fabulously ornate while at the same time almost completely flat as he needed to make the rooms inside as large as he could.

The imposing entrance

that leads to this courtyard.

Between the entrance and the courtyard is a small forecourt full of statues, some of which are for sale, like the two pictured (the building is now an auction house)

while others are a permanent fixture.

Ferstel Palais shows a different method of fitting an aristocratic palace into an urban setting. Here the palace sits on top of an arcade of shops

the Ferstel Passage

This beautiful vaulted passageway,

is lit by a glass-roofed atrium in the centre,

and has a fountain in the middle

it is full of cafes and lovely little shops

this one for instance, is a chocolate heaven


We could not get access to these interesting stairs

Ferstel passage leads on to another passage, much more modern looking

which is full of art galleries.

Just across Ferstel Palais is the old headquarters of the Austrian Bank of Trade and Commerce but houses the Kunstforum Wien, an exhibition space.

We then walked down Herengasse intending to have a break in Café Central, Vienna's grandest and most famous café, famous for its popularity with a range of fin-de-siècle intellectuals, people like Leon Trotsky and Sigmund Freud.

The queue outside was long however, so we moved on to the Griensteidl café in Michaelerplatz.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Ruprechtskitche in Vienna

Ruprechtskirche in the Jewish Quarter in Vienna

This Romanesque church is traditionally considered to be the oldest church in the city. It's dedicated to Saint Rupert of Salzburg, patron saint of the salt merchants of Vienna. It's been rebuilt and altered many times in its history. In 1276, it was damaged by fire and modified.

The tower was built in the traditional Romanesque style including the typical double windows. Two of the still functioning bells date back to the 13th century. These bells are up to this day attached on their holdster without screws.

The renovations at the end of the 20th century primarily focused on the basic structure of the building as well as preparing the interior for more contemporary services. They tried to achieve quality and plainness and they have succeeded beautifully in this.

We visited this church on a Sunday while a service was going on. I was so taken by the interior and the stained glass windows in particular,  that we came back on our last day to have a proper look and to obviously, take some pictures.

The dominant feature of the main chapel is a baroque style crucifix that dates back to at least 1765.

The interior is very pleasing to the eye - beautifully proportioned, plain and austere.

The base stones of the altar are Romanesque, but in 1703 a baroque styled high altar was built around these base stones. It was removed in 1986 to achieve a plainer look. Since then the community gathers around the altar during the services.

This wonderful little church is glorified by the very brightly coloured stained windows designed by Lydia Ropport in the early 1990s. They are magnificent.

It was very difficult finding much about Roppolt. She studied in Vienna and painted portraits and landscapes in the tradition of late expressionism.

The stained glass windows are glorious - I have included most of them here

Three pillars separate the main chapel from the side chapel.

I have searched and searched, and could not find anything about this cross

On the north wall of the church stands the sarcophagus of St. Vitalis a martyr from the Roman catacombs. The skeleton is clothed in baroque style garments. Missing body parts were replaced with wax replicas.