Elisabethinenkirche Church, Vienna:
Church of St. Elisabeth, Landstraße

Walking southwards from the first district of Vienna into the district of Landstraße, you will soon encounter a Baroque church called Elisabethinenkirche. It is one of the many 18th century churches that were built just outside of the city walls after the Second Siege of Vienna through the Turkish armies in 1683. The neighbourhood of the Elisabethinenkirche is rather unappealing; the Landstraßer Hauptstraße is busy but a somewhat shabby shopping lane in this area and the station Wien Mitte is currently under re-development.

As of 2008, I have noticed an increased number of drug addicts hanging out there and often begging; I think they transfer there from the Karlsplatz. This is also where the City Airport Train (CAT) connects the city of Vienna with the airport in Schwechat. Historically, this site was occupied by a port - of the Wiener Neustädter Kanal, a canal that was planned to connect Vienna with Trieste. As you see, the Elisabethinenkirche is built right at a traffic hub that combines all sorts of means of transportation.

The construction of the Elisabethinenkirche was started in 1709. The architect in charge with the construction of the Elisabethinenkirche was a man called Matthias Gerl, of whom I know little - but I assume he was of the efficient and diligent kind, since the construction was completed within a mere two years. Another church that Gerl worked on in Vienna was the Kirche St. Thekla in nearby Wieden. The opening service took place in 1711. In 1743, the church was re-modelled and extended by Franz Anton Pilgram, following a devastating flood.

Gaining a Relic: St. Elisabeth goes Elisabethinenkirche

The Elisabethinen nuns ran a pharmacy and a hospital, both associated with the nunnery and the church. In 1782, when Emperor Joseph II dissolved hundreds of "useless" (ie. non-practical) monasteries in the Habsburg lands, the hospital saved the neck of the nunnery. Since a hospital was useful by the rigorous standards of the Emperor, the nunnery was allowed to persist. Alas, they were not allowed to accept novices. The Clarissian nuns near today′s Café Sperl, were less lucky - they were dissolved right away. Since 1609, the Clarissian nunnery had been the guard for a very valuable relic: The skull of St. Elisabeth of Thuringia, a valuable relic that ensured the nunnery an constant stream of pilgrims and income. This skull was now transferred to the Elisabethinenkirche, where it still is.

In the 19th century, the ban for accepting novices was lifted; the hospital of the Elisabethinen flourished and prospered. In the course of WWII, the nunnery was severely damaged in 1944. The hospital was closed for more than a year and it took a long time to fix all damages. In 1965, the hospital was extended and modernised. Today, the combination of the old Baroque church, nunnery and pharmacy with a modern hospital can also be found at the hospital of the Barmherzige Brüder in the second district (Leopoldstadt).

Attractions nearby include the Rochuskirche, the Palais Rasumofsky, the Palais Wittgenstein, the Kunsthaus Wien and Hundertwasserhaus; the Museum for Applied Arts, the Stadtpark and Kursalon Hübner; the Münze Österreich and the sights of the first district of Vienna.

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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 the Hospital St. Elsabeth Vienna & Elisabethinen Kirche