St. Laurenz Church in Simmering, Vienna:
Altsimmeringer Pfarrkiche Church
The Altsimmeringer Pfarrkirche Church is dedicated to St. Lawrence (in German Laurenz) and often promoted as "the oldest parish church of Vienna". This claim is - as it is often the case with such superlatives - of course rubbish. In fact, the building that is St. Laurenz today was built in the 18th century on a site on which a parish church can be traced until around 1000 AD. The oldest written records date back to 1267, when the church was mentioned as a branch ("Filialkirche") of the Stephansdom Cathedral.
Short video that features the Alt-Simmeringer Pfarrkirche St. Laurenz.
By 1440, the parish covered a rather large territory: Today′s Simmering, the area of Erdberg, St. Marx, the Landstraße road and the Rennweg area. During the first Turkish Siege of Vienna in 1529, the church was seriously damaged and repaired in subsequent years. There is a paining from 1590 that shows the fixed church with a Romanesque nave and a Gothic apsis. The tower was a defence building later integrated into the church. In the course of the Second Siege of Vienna by the Turkish army in 1683, the church was severely damaged.
After the defeat of the Turks, only the most urgent repairs were made - most villagers of Simmering were killed or had left and only gradually, life returned to the area. By 1746, it had returned to such an extent that a larger church was needed. The architect Mathias Franz Gerl designed the Baroque church that you can see today. Only the upper part of the tower was re-modelled in the early 19th century.
Simmering & St. Laurenz after 1970
In the 1970ies, the interiors were refurbished and apsis was enlarged. For reasons I don′t understand, the altar from 1777 was kicked out and replaced by a new one facing the nave (maybe a move after the Second Vatican consilium? I am grateful for information). Today, Simmering is a rather unattractive district where the outskirts of Vienna meet the onset of the most industrial parts of Lower Austria. However, around the parish church of St. Laurenz you can still catch the spirit of a village.
North of the church you find an ancient cemetery and the centre of the old village of Simmering, which later gave its name to the entire district. Attractions nearby are rather limited - check out the highway or the shopping malls for a slightly different sightseeing tour. Real attractions are the sad remains of the once glorious Renaissance palace Schloss Neugebäude and the Urnenhain of the city′s crematory right next to it; the cemeteries of Zentralfriedhof (Europe′s largest - see again my warning about superlatives above) and St. Marx (where Mozart′s body was dumped somewhere) and the Gasometer City, a very unusual residential area.
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