Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld, Ottakring:
Baroque Ruins meet Modern Church in Vienna

The Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld is a church in the 16th district of Vienna, Ottakring. It comprises of the front fašade with two towers in Baroque style and the nave, which was built after WWII to replace the ruins left by allied bombing. The original Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld was built between 1733 and 1753 under the supervision of the builders Andreas Perthold (bricks, masonry and stone work) and Wolfgang Hillebrand (carpenter and woodwork).

The Baroque gem was opened in 1757 by Bishop Anton Maurer, even though the new church - endowed by donations from local burghers - was not a parish church. This changed in 1791, when Prince Archbishop Cardinal Migazzi granted the church the official rank as a parish, its own priest included. Until then, the church had been part of the parish of Ottakring. Things went well for the Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld until the 1st of January 1945, when a bomb hit the church directly and destroyed it almost completely. Only the front fašade with the two towers survived, as well as the tabernacle and a depiction of the Holy Virgin.

The Second Life of the Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld

After the war (which was over pretty soon after the bomb had hit the church), the parish and the diocese discussed whether the church should be re-built or replaced by a new church altogether. The decision was finally a compromise: The surviving parts - front and towers - were preserved and integrated into a new building, which was blended in with the Baroque style of the old Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld. The architect put in charge with the project was Karl Raimund Lorenz. Within a few years, considerable progress was made and the new church gained shape to the extent that services were held again after 1949. However, the nave - which makes the crucial part of the church - was built only between 1955 and 1957.

The Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld has plain interiors, the post-war part of the church is blended in with the front and has a lower priority than the Baroque parts. The ceiling is flat and made from dark wood; the general impression of the church is light and friendly. The main altar has a painting by Joachim von Sandrart, a depiction of the crucification from 1653. Note also the mosaic by Hermann Bauch from 1967, a depiction of the resurrection of Christ.

The same artist created the individual stops of the Via Dolorosa. Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld also contains a pieta by Johann Theny, made in 1733. Today, the outside of the church - even the Baroque ones - are run down and could use a bit of paint. The somewhat shabby impression matches with the reputation of Eastern Ottakring. Attractions nearby are sparse; note the vicinity to the Gürtel Road and the red-light district of Vienna. The Brunnenmarkt and the brewery of Ottakring are probably the most famous features of the district, as well as the Heilig-Geist-Kirche by Josef Plecnik; otherwise, the Pfarrkirche Neulerchenfeld is in the middle of a 19th-century residential area of little interest to international visitors.

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Further Reading

Website of the parish Neulerchenfeld in Ottakring

Planet Vienna on the Pfarre Neulerchenfeld, Ottakring (German, with pics)