Nussdorfer Pfarrkirche St. Thomas
Parish Church meets Heuriger in Vienna

The village of Nussdorf, long merged with Vienna, is still seen as an "insider tip" when it comes to Heurige. The station of Heiligenstadt shows how the division forms: Most tourists move on to go to Grinzing with its fake-cosiness and tacky folk music played by Slovakians. The "serious" Heurigen-aficionados take a different tram and go to Nussdorf, which is about as far from Heiligenstadt as Grinzing, but a lot more authentic. Nevertheless, Nussdorf too is a typical Heurigen village with a long lane with one flat Biedermeier vintner′s house next to the other. In the middle of this ensemble you will find the parish church of Nussdorf, the Kirche St. Thomas. It is a relatively plain and simple building that is incorporated into neighbouring houses.

The Pfarrkirche St. Thomas Church is an unusual building for Vienna insofar as it was built in the late 18th century, in between the two styles of late Baroque and Classicism. For centuries, the village of Nussdorf was part of the parish of Heiligenstadt. There the local church of St. Jakob coordinated the religious efforts for several of its neighbouring villages, including Nussdorf. Even though the community lobbied for its own priest for a long time, only the reforms of Emperor Joseph II led to a thorough re-organisation of parishes in the Holy Roman Empire. In 1783, the Emperor granted Nussdorf the right to form its own parish. It was to be founded under the guidance and leadership of the monastery of Klosterneuburg, which owned most of the area.

Nussdorfer Pfarrkirche since around 1800

The monastery bought one of the local vintner′s buildings and ordered the construction of a vicarage and a church. The architect and builder in charge was Josef Gerl, the new church of St. Thomas was opened in 1787. The previous chapel of St. Thomas, which dated back to the 14th century, was lost in a fire in 1790. The building was made school house and finally demolished in 1964. The interior of the late-Baroque church of St. Thomas are worth a closer look: Note the tabernacle by the Biedermeier architect Joseph Kornhäusel (he of Baden bei Wien, the Synagogue or the Theater in der Josefstadt). Have a look at the main altar painting by Paul Haubenstricker. It dates back to 1787 and depicts St. Thomas, the patron saint of the parish.

Note also the benches, beautifully crafted Baroque ones: The parish of Nussdorf could afford them only because Emperor Joseph II dissolved hundreds of monasteries and their possessions were sold at crash prices. The ones of St. Thomas were originally in the Dorotheer Convent, today′s Lutheran Dorotheerkirche. Attractions in the strict sense of the word don′t really come to my mind; note the Heurige in Nussdorf; and the Nussdorfer Wehr, designed by Otto Wagner (a noteworthy Jugendstil building). Nussdorf and the vineyards north of the village are a nice area for a walk, especially on a warm evening.

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Further Reading

Website of the Parish Nussdorf

German Wikipedia on St. Thomas in Nussdorf (with pics)