Wednesday, February 8, 2017

If it ain't baroque - Karlskirche, Vienna

Vienna is a city known for its' baroque architecture and within that city the best example is the Karlskirche.
Consecrated in 1737 the Roman Catholic church was built by Emperor Charles IV in honor of the saint Charles Borromeo.   Borromeo is revered as the saint of plague sufferers and Vienna had suffered its last tremendous plague in 1712 (construction began in 1713). 
The prolific Viennese architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach designed the church which was later finished after his death by his son Joseph Emanuel.
 Located in the narthex is this wonderful clay model of the church.
 Above the altar the gold statue represents the symbol Yahweh. The high altarpiece below shows the intercession of Charles Borromeo.
 Many of the churches in Vienna had wonderfully ornate glassy interior bay windows overlooking the Apse.  I can't help but wonder who these were built to house!
 Many of the frescos are by the important artist Daniel Gran and were recently restored. Gran's restrained later works (such as that here at Karlskirche)  were a precursor of classicism after the excesses of the baroque.
 Notice the huge marble columns. I love the little pavilion type confessionals.
 Even the pews are marvelously designed.
 A number of the side chapels are just as beautiful as the main Altarpiece. A bit of trivia...actress Hedy Lamarr was married here in 1933!
 The impressive walnut front doors are deceptively large but only opened for special occasions. One enters now through the side pavilions seen flanking the church.
I loved these simple candlesticks mounted to the wall in contrast to the ornate decorative scheme.
 Have you noticed the steel scaffolding in a few of the pictures? In order to raise funds for the maintenance of the church, after the restoration the church left a platform below the dome that one can ascend to view the dome's frescos up close and personal, as well as enter the higher lantern atop the dome to take in views of the city.
It's a tad shaky but I was assured it was safe! An elevator takes you to the base of the dome. From there stairs take you up into the lantern.
 This is an adventure not for those afraid of heights.
 Shall we go up?
 From the various landings one gets up close to the wonderfully colorful frescos. These figures are all life size or more.
 You'll want to spend your time soaking in all of the many stories told by the figures.
 I easily spent an hour admiring the many paintings.
 Notice the double ringed walkway around the exterior. I wish I could have explored in there!
 Don't forget to click on the photos to enlarge them to see the details.

From the floor of the church the base of the lantern (at the top of the dome) appears to be marble. However up close it's a very crude faux-marble technique.
 The details of these corbeled brackets is lost to those on the ground.
 Once you reach the top landing you are treated to the ceiling fresco on the lantern.
 And marvelous 360 degree views of the city!
This was one of my favorite sites in Vienna and I hope if you ever find yourself in Austria you will visit the Karlskirche.
 Visit their official website HERE.