A few steps off Graben Street, on a small square of Petersplatz, Baroque St. Peter’s Church in Vienna (Peterskirche) is yet another historic landmark to enjoy during your walk in the city center. Surrounded by buildings that encircle it and almost hide it from view, this church is a must-visit when in Vienna. Apart from its impressive interior and central location, it is very popular with classical concerts due to its amazing acoustics.
If you look at the church from the outside, and especially its dome, you will notice the resemblance to the namesake church in the Vatican, Rome. Much smaller, of course.
Name: Peterskirche – St. Peter’s Catholic Church
Type of attraction: Church
Location: Petersplatz, 1010 Vienna, 1st District
Public transport: Reachable on foot from most of Innere Stadt locations. Nearest underground U1 (Stephansplatz) or buses 1A or 2A (Graben, Petersplatz)
Price/ticket: Free to visit, concert tickets from $35
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday – Sunday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m
Official website: Peterskirche
The original records about the church date back to 1137, but some sort of church was in that place even before that time. There is a legend that the famous Charlemagne founded the church, but there is no clear evidence about that.
The church was damaged in fire two times in its history, in 1276 and in 1327, and if was quickly refurbished in both cases. Despite that, the church stood in this place and had many changes in decorations, especially with altars, which were built, renovated, and dedicated, during the period between the 14th and 16th centuries.
In the year 1700, the Brotherhood of the Holy Trinity (Bruderschaft der heiligsten Dreifaltigkeit) which owned the church at the time, decided to tear it down and build a new one. The new church, which is the one we see today was consecrated in 1733. It is now owned and operated by Opus Dei.
Architectural elements of the church
The church (the version we see today, dating from 1733) was built in Baroque style, which is represented both in external and internal style and decorations.
The exterior of the church
A 56-meter-high dome dominates the church and the area. In front of it, there are two high towers with sandstone statues in them – the apostles Paul and Simon on the left one and Johannes Ev. and Judas Thaddeus on the right. The entrance portal is designed in Rococo style.
The marble relief of Charlemagne by Rudolf Weyr is located on the right side of the church (designed in 1906): It shows the legendary founding of St. Peter’s Church by Emperor Charlemagne. At the back of the church, there are two niches with the statues of Archangel Michael and St. Peter.
Interior of the church
The interior of St. Peter’s Church in Vienna is lively and colorful. There is a high altar opposite the entrance and another, to the right, of St. Johannes Nepomuk.
There are six chapels, St. Barbara, St. Sebastian, Chapel of the Holy Family, Archangel Michael, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Anthony of Padua.
The organ gallery is above the entrance, and it is intricately decorated and painted. The same goes for the pulpit, standing to the left from the high altar. The dome ceiling is pained with a fresco representing the coronation of Mary by God the Father and God the Son.
The entrance to the crypt is to the right from the high altar. The crypt is the size of the entire surface of the church.
What to see and do in Peterskirche?
Religious services. St. Peter Church is an active church, and it provides all relevant religious services. Apart from praying and attending regular masses, you can have confessions, confirmations, first communion, baptism, and wedding ceremony. You can consult the official website about the schedules and available services. Services are provided in several languages.
The church is also active in several theological forums and cooperation with other churches.
Music performances. There are several music-related performances and events organized in the church. Firstly, there are free music concerts and high masses. Then, there are organ concerts that are also free, where you are free to donate.
Paid concerts are organized in the crypt, usually, opera performances and the church itself organizes regular paid concerts of classical music.
The church has a very active program during advent time before Christmas.
St. Peter Church – Peterskirche is yet another historical landmark not to be missed in Vienna. It is rich with history, art, and live music and is a place to visit more than once when you are in Vienna. Apart from religious significance, it has become one of the very popular venues for live classical music in the city.
More religious landmarks