As a Catholic from Asia, I find European cities very interesting destinations. Home to the most beautiful churches in the world, they’re the go-to places for Catholics wanting to discover their rich religious heritage.
While Vienna may not be the center of Catholicism in Europe, there are still many impressive churches worth visiting in this great city. One such church is Peterskirche, or Saint Peter’s Church, known for its beautiful Baroque architecture and its stunning interior.
In this post, I’ll share all the beautiful and notable things I discovered at Peterskirche in Vienna, along with some tips and visiting information for those who decide to drop by.
When I saw the interior of Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, or Stephansdom, I was convinced that it was the most impressive religious landmark in Vienna.
But my mind quickly changed when my sight landed at Peterskirche’s interiors, the smaller church just a stone’s throw away from Stephansdom.
I went from thinking “Stephansdom is undoubtedly the most stunning” to “Well, I’m not really sure anymore. Peterskirche is just magnificent!”
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Actually, it’s hard to compare, because they have such different styles. Stephansdom is a mix of Gothic and Baroque, while Peterskirche is purely Baroque. Stephansdom draws you in with its mystery, while Peterskirche awes you with its grandeur.
Regardless, if you’re visiting Old Town Vienna, these two churches are must-see attractions. Let me show you.
Get an idea of what Stephansdom, or St. Stephen’s Church, looks like from my guide to visiting St. Stephen’s Church.
Peterskirche: One of Vienna’s Most Beautiful Baroque Churches
It’s impossible to say which church is more stunning, Stephansdom or Peterskirche. But, there’s no doubt that Peterskirche is one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in Vienna.
With its ceiling painted with bright and colorful frescoes; interiors heavily embellished with gilded Baroque reliefs and sculptures, it’s easy to see why Peterskirche deserves the title. Look:
In my opinion, the only church that can equal to Peterskirche’s beauty is Karlskirche. Anyhow, Peterskirche is a feast for the eyes of any wanderer. You won’t regret seeing it for yourself.
Let me introduce Karlskriche, a church is also known for a moving concert performance, to you through my post, Karlskirche Vienna and Everything You Need to Know Before You Visit.
Going back… Peterskirche is not only beautiful, but also historic.
It is the oldest church and parish in Vienna, and has been a sacred site for centuries, hosting Holy Masses since the early middle ages. Some even say that Emperor Charlemagne himself founded Peterskirche. But none gives proof to this claim.
Peterskirche’s current architectural style, which is Baroque, suggests that the church has been remodeled at least once, and this is true. The current physical structure of Peterskirche was constructed only a few hundred years ago. To be precise, the church was finished in the year 1733.
Inspired by the glorious Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy, the current design of Peterskirche is a stunning sight to behold.
If you get the chance to hear the organ playing inside the church while looking at its magnificent interiors, you will feel a shiver down your spine. To me, it’s one of the most amazing experiences to have in Vienna.
If you’re also Catholic, you can find that moment a compelling period to pray.
Make the most of your trip to Vienna by checking out my Vienna Travel Inspiration posts. They’ll help you find the perfect experiences to suit your preferences
Beautiful Things to See Inside Peterskirche
Compared to Stephansdom, Peterskirche appears like a medium-sized church, especially since it has only one nave.
But I was amazed by its interior for several minutes. There are many beautiful things to see inside Peterskirche and they are everywhere. Like, right when you enter the church, in the narthex, you are already surrounded by artworks if you look around.
The ceiling and the walls next to the main portal and the doors have murals painted in Trompe-l’œil style. They look like real columns, pediments over the doorways, and relief decorations, but they are all paintings, not real.
It’s hard to believe at first glance.
As you step further inside Peterskirche, you enter a kaleidoscopic world of religious artworks. Along the nave, you can find six ornate chapels, each with a large and beautiful painting that depicts biblical stories.
The larger chapels between the small chapels have golden retables, which are definitely a treasure.
Statues of saints and historical figures flank the altar in each chapel, giving it an overall dramatic appearance, which typically gives spiritual inspiration to worshipers.
Above the altars are colorful biblical frescoes, further enhancing the appearances of the chapels.
Before you reach the center of the nave from the narthex, you will surely also notice the pews, or long benches, in the nave of Peterskirche. Cute baby angel heads decorate the pews, which makes me admire the church even more.
It also makes me applaud the makers of Peterskirche for the attention they paid to detail, ensuring that all parts of the church are masterpieces.
When you reach the center of the nave, look up. You will see the largest artwork that uses both dimensions and light to impress—the oval dome.
The dome is painted with a dramatic scene of the Holy Spirit surrounded by angels and saints on the clouds—the scene of the sky when Jesus was baptized.
The dove image of the Holy Spirit is located at the lantern of the dome, which allows an entry for light that gives the dome a more sanctified appearance.
The last time I checked, near the entrance of the church, there is a large photo of the dome that you can look at. This can help you see the details of the dome without hurting your neck.
But I think you would appreciate the beauty of the dome even more if you see it for yourself in actuality, especially when you notice the church’s pendentive. The pendentive of Peterskirche is amazing.
(The pendentive is where the dome and the walls of the church join)
It has a painting of saints that looks like 3D, with their clothes overlapping another layer of the pendentive.
Beneath the pendentive, you can see the magnificent galleries. Elaborated with golden elements, anyone could think of these galleries like balconies for royalties.
The most magnificent gallery, however, has to be the gallery above the narthex where you can admire Peterskirche’s splendid organ.
The organ’s main instrument was built in the early 20th century, but the casing is much older. It dates back to the mid-18th-century and it is covered with shimmering gold and silver ornaments.
Facing the organ, you can behold the high altar of Peterskirche, which is a marvel of religious art and architecture. It has an altarpiece that depicts a miraculous scene: the Healing of the Lame by St. Peter and St. John in Jerusalem.
The altarpiece is set in a glorious frame of golden Corinthian columns and encircled by statues of saints and angels. And indeed, the high altar looks like a portal that transports you to a heavenly realm.
As you turn your eyes to the high altar, you are dazzled by the golden pulpit and the golden sculpture that face each other.
They are the two artistic gems of Peterskirche, and they are breathtaking.
The pulpit is covered with gold, and it makes you feel that the priest who preaches from it has a divine authority. The golden sculpture of the Holy Trinity above the pulpit reinforces this impression.
The golden sculpture across the pulpit, however, shows the martyrdom of Saint John of Nepomuk with the Virgin Mary watching over him. The sculpture is a powerful reminder for Catholics to remain faithful no matter what, because they have the protection of the Virgin Mary, the mother of God.
More Pictures of Peterskirche’s Interior
Truly, Peterskirche is a beautiful church that can inspire us Catholics with its religious art and atmosphere. But even if you are not Catholic, you can still enjoy visiting Peterskirche. It’s a part of the cultural and historical heritage of Vienna, and it has a stunning architecture that will impress you.
Here are some more pictures of Peterskirche that will make you want to see it for yourself.
Do you want to see more awe-inspiring architecture in Vienna, aside from Peterskirche?
You should definitely visit the remarkable palaces of Vienna: Hofburg, Schönbrunn, and Belvedere Palace. And if you want to visit a museum that looks like a palace — the interiors are simply breathtaking — check out the Museum of Military History or Kunsthistorisches Museum. It’s an art and history museum; it’s one of the best that you’ll never regret visiting.
Outside Vienna, the best choice would be Melk Abbey, which is one of Austria’s architectural highlights. It’s a beautiful day trip.
Concert Inside Peterskirche
One of the best things you can do at Peterskirche is to attend a concert there. Everyday at 3:00 pm, there’s a free organ concert inside Peterskirche.
But you can also try the more special concert, which is a unique opportunity to appreciate the beauty and history of the church, while enjoying some of the finest classical music ever composed.
You will hear works by Vivaldi, Schubert, Beethoven, and Haydn, performed by talented musicians in a stunning setting. The special concert is only an hour long, so it won’t take too much of your time.
Peterskirche Visiting Information
What’s so great about Peterskirche is that you don’t have to pay anything to visit the church. You can just walk in and look around whenever you want, as long as there is no mass or service going on.
You can find the schedule of the religious events and activities at Peterskirche on their official website (see the resources section).
To save you some time, I checked the website for you and found out that Peterskirche is open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekdays and 9:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekends.
If you decide to go, make sure you dress appropriately to show respect to the church and the people who are praying there.
Peterskirche is near a street called Graben, which goes to Stephansplatz (where you can find Stephansdom). It is not far from Stephansdom, only 300 meters. You can walk there in less than 5 minutes.
Sources: Visiting Peterskirche in Vienna
I hope you liked reading my post about Peterskirche and found it helpful. If you want to see more posts like this, please share this post with your friends. It will support me a lot in creating more content like this.
To learn more about Peterskirche, you can check out these links that I think are useful.
- Official website of Peterskirche
- Full history of Peterskirche
- Free concerts in Peterskirche
- Special concerts in Peterskirche
If you are planning to visit Vienna and you need a hotel, here is where you can find the best hotel deals in the city. The link will take you to a hotel browser that has a map feature. It will help you find the hotels that are in the best location for you.
Before you set go, here’s a tip: Vienna’s historic center isn’t the only spot for incredible travel experiences. The Danube Tower across the river offers the highest panoramic view of Vienna. Don’t miss out on these three stunning castles for fantastic day trips: Laxenburg Castle Park, Liechtenstein Castle, and Kreuzenstein Castle.
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