Kirche St. Aegidius (St. Ägyd), Vienna:
Haydnkirche in Vienna′s Gumpendorf District

If there are two things that Vienna got plenty of, it is churches and composers. Therefore, it isn′t really surprising if the two things are often combined: Plenty of churches have occupied composers and musicians and now claim to be that very one church that is particularly close to a certain composer. This works pretty well, since many composers, including the entire Vienna Classic school, moved around all their life like crazy - thus, giving a share of their fame to plenty of houses, theatres and churches. The Gumpendorfer Kirche, also called Kirche St. Aegidius or St. Ägyd has close ties with Joseph Haydn.

The father of the Vienna Classic school had a house near the church, in today′s Haydngasse. There he spent the last (and fairly unproductive) years of his life, enjoying his wealth, fame and parrot (who outlived him by many years and was later sold for a fortune - apparently he was able to say "Papa Haydn!"). When Joseph Haydn died in 1809, his body was laid in the Gumpendorfer Kirche. There is a plate on the fašade of the church that commemorates this event and clever people have tried to spread the name "Haydnkirche" for the church. The Haydn memorial, however, can be found in front of the nearby Mariahilferkirche.

A few words on the earlier history of the Gumpendorfer Kirche: The oldest written record for a church on this site dates back to 1244. This was when the area of Gumpendorf was still a village outside of Vienna. With time, the population of Gumpendorf grew, as the street between Vienna and the village (today′s heavy-traffic-road Gumpendorferstraße) became an important trade route. At some point the Kirche St. Aegidius had become too small and a new building was needed. An architect by the name of Josef Reymund was hired in the mid-18th century for demolishing the old, small church and building a bigger and better one. He did so by using the stones of the Medieval church.

Construction of the Haydnkirche Vienna

The construction took place from around 1765; but it was an ongoing project that span several decades. For all sorts of reasons (financial ones, changes in the plans), the completion of the new Gumpendorferkirche just didn′t happen. Three Emperors had come and gone, Napoleon had been defeated and Joseph Haydn had died when the church was finally and officially opened in 1820.

The opening mass was celebrated by Archbishop Sigmund Count of Hohenwart. The long construction time is echoed by the style of the church: Both late Baroque and neo-Classicist elements can be found. The fašade is decorated with St. Leopold and St. Joseph. The interiors were partly added after the opening in 1820.

Attractions nearby include the Haydnhaus (run by the Wien Museum as one of the Musikerwohnungen), the Raimund Theater, the Westbahnhof, the church Maria vom Siege, the Mariahilferstraße, the Stadthalle and the Vienna Public Library. If you walk southwards, you get to he Wienzeile, from where you can stroll via the Naschmarkt (Vienna′s biggest farm market) to the Karlsplatz Square with its many attractions.

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Further Reading

Planet Vienna on the Kirche St. Aegyd (Haydnkirche) with pics