Kirche St. Leopold, Vienna:
Baroque Church in the Leopoldstadt
The second district of Vienna, the Leopoldstadt, was a combination of hunting grounds and unappealing swamps up to the 17th century. It was here that the Jewish community of Vienna had settled after the Medieval pogroms had expelled all Jews from the city itself. In 1670, Emperor Leopold I banned all Jews from Austria - which included Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vienna. The Jewish ghetto in today′s 2nd district was bought by the city of Vienna and the entire area made more hospitable with great ambitions. The main synagogue was dismantled and a Catholic church built instead. The new settlement became a suburb to Vienna and was named in honour of the Emperor: Leopoldstadt or City of Leopold.
That being said, Jews came back over and over again - despite of continued repressions, further pogroms and finally the Holocaust. The Leopoldstadt is still considered - alongside with parts of the first district - to be a "Jewish district", especially the area around the Karmeliterkirche. Back to the Leopoldkirche: It replaced the former synagogue and was opened in 1671. The Emperor himself attended the opening ceremony, alongside with his wife Margaretha, the mayor of Vienna and the Imperial court as well as the city council.
Demolition & Reconstruction of Kirche St. Leopold
This first Kirche St. Leopold did not enjoy a very long life: During the Second Siege of Vienna in 1683, the area was one of the most important bases of the Turkish armies and the church was destroyed. A new church was built just after the defeat of the Turks. However, the Leopoldstadt after 1700 was a very prospering neighbourhood and enjoyed a rapid increase of its population. By 1722, the church was ways too small and thus, demolished. On the foundations of the old Kirche St. Leopold, a new church was built - only bigger and better. The architect in charge was Anton Ospel.
In 1824, the church was renovated extensively for the first time. In the course of WWI, six of the eight bells of the Kirche St. Leopold were used for arm manufactories. A second renovation followed in 1923, which also led to the modernisation of the interiors. Things went worse in WWII: Just before the end of the war, in March of 1945, the Kirche St. Leopold got a direct hit from a 1,000 kilogram heavy bomb. The cupola, the interiors and most of the walls were completely destroyed. The base of the church was re-built until 1948; however, the repair and renovation work was not finished until 1961. Today, the Kirche St. Leopold looks like the original Baroque church from before WWII again.
Attractions nearby include the Karmeliterkirche, the Produktenbörse, the Kirche der Barmherzigen Brüder and the Donaukanal. If you cross the canal, you are right in the centre of the first district or Innere Stadt with its innumerable attractions. The Augarten with the Palais Augarten and the Porcelain Manufactory are nearby; and the Messe Wien, the Ferris Wheel and Prater area are not too far, either.
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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