Augustinerkirche (St. Augustine's) was constructed in the Hofburg Palace complex between 1330 and 1339 and was used by the Royal family as their parish church. It is still used as a Church by the Augustine monks but also serves as a seminary.
For much of its history, the church has been used extensively by the Royal family for burials, weddings and other ceremonies. Many famous royal tombs are located within the complex including the tomb of Maria Christina, sister to Marie Antoinette.
An interesting point is although her ornately decorated tomb is located here, her body is buried elsewhere!
Many famous marriages were conducted here including the 1770 wedding of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI of France and the marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise of Austria in 1810.
The church was originally constructed in the Gothic style but much of this interior was later superseded by Baroque architecture. This was removed in the 18th century so most of the Gothic interior dates from this time.
It is a very picturesque, peaceful and inspirational church with impressive frescoes on the ceilings and massive chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceilings and there is also a beautiful main altar.
A working Baroque organ remains and is played regularly at ceremonies. The church is famous for its religious, spiritual music. Many famous musicians and composers including Franz Schubert conducted masses here.
The public is invited to attend the High Mass on Sundays at 11 am, where they will experience the delight of a live choir accompanied by spectacular organ music. The the music and the setting combine to make for a memorable experience.
It is considered rude to leave before the ceremony has finished so be prepared to stay for the whole mass. These masses can be very popular especially during holiday time so it is best to plan to get there as early as possible to ensure a seat.
Within the complex are several smaller chapels. In the Loreta Chapel there is an unusual collection of silver urns that house the hearts of the Habsburg rulers. The St. George chapel used to be the location where the Knights of the Order of George held their gatherings.
There is no cost to visit the church or to attend Sunday mass but tickets need to be purchased for specific concerts.
Augustinerkirche is a delightful mass. No one plays complete masses anymore. It has been a true delight to go to mass and experience masses by Mozart, Hayden, Dvorak, and more. Expect to stay in mass until about 12:30, but the extra few minutes are worth every second. The church has two collections: one during mass where the money goes to the church and a second one after the mass that goes towards the music/musicians.
The mass was delightful, cultural, and a dream come true for any music-appreciating person.
Plan to be standing if you do not arrive at 10:30. Mass starts at 11 and if you walk towards the right side of the church (looking at the alter) you will have a higher chance of finding a place to sit complete with a view of the musicians in the loft and of the alter!
Great cultural experience!
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