Photographer's Note

The Votive Church is located on Ringstraße near the University of Vienna. The origin of the church has an unusual history derived from a knife-attack on Emperor Franz Joseph by Hungarian nationalist János Libényi. The emperor was taking a stroll with one of his officers, when a man approached him, and struck the emperor from behind with a knife straight at the neck. Franz Joseph almost always wore a uniform, which had a high collar that almost completely enclosed the neck. It so happened that the collar of his uniform was made out of very sturdy material. Even though Franz Joseph was wounded and bleeding, this collar saved his life.
After the unsuccessful attack on February 18, 1853, Franz Joseph's brother Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, the later emperor of Mexico, called upon the community for donations to a new church on the site of the attack. The church was to be a votive offering for the rescue of Franz Joseph. It was to be "a monument of patriotism and of devotion of the people to the Imperial House".
Heinrich von Ferstel (1828-1883), who, at the time, was only 26 years old, was selected as the architect. He chose to build the cathedral in the neo-Gothic style, borrowing heavily from the architecture of Gothic French cathedrals. Because of this concept, many people mistake this church for an original Gothic church. However, the Votivkirche has not become a servile imitation of a French Gothic cathedral, but shows a new and individual concept. Furthermore it was built by one single architect, supervising the whole construction, and not by several generations, as the cathedrals in the Middle Ages.Construction began in 1856, and it was dedicated twenty-six years later on April 24, 1879, the occasion of the silver jubilee of the royal couple.
I was with the US occupation forces in Vienna in early 1946 and I remember the church being badly damaged. One of the few in Vienna that required extensive repair. I worked only several blocks away from this church and to this day it is probably my favorite of the three great churches in Vienna. Since its architectural style is quite similar to the Stephansdom, it often gets mistaken for it by tourists. In reality more than 700 years lie between the two churches.

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Additional Photos by Roger Edgington (edge) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 753 W: 34 N: 2205] (7409)
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