Sunday, July 19, 2009

Insane Trip To The Psychiatric Hospital

This is a picture (not mine) of the Kirche am Steinhof, touted in the guidebooks as the apex of the Jugenstil movement. Before Saturday we had never seen it, even having lived in Vienna for close to a year, and now we know why.
This is the tourist attraction that does not want to be seen. First, it is a hoot-n'-a-holler out there in Penzing. We were already out of town in Schonbrunn, and we still had to hop on a streetcar, then change to a bus to get to Penzing. Then the address is confusing, causing certain married couples to bicker about which bus stop to use. The one who always sings "Bow down before the one you serve" when they are right happened to win on this occasion. Finally, it's only open on Saturdays for a guided tour at 3:00pm and for free from 4-5:00pm. What kind of opening hours are those?
[click to enlarge] So we left Schonbrunn at 4:15 because Willi had started his quadrille team late. We called the Isaaks to let them know we were en route, but they were just starting out from the sixth district. The streetcar made us think we were doing well. Then the bus took us out forever. We got off at the stop, found the signs, and ran up the hill toward the church.
And ran and ran.
We had about six minutes before closing when we got off the bus. We chugged up about two blocks' worth of hill, having to tote Joss and his stroller up the last of it, which were stairs. We panted to the front door. The woman behind the counter smiled at us and we walked in. We stood inside for about thirty seconds when the first of the lights went off. Rob snapped pictures as fast as he could, and even the kids, who had given us much grief over visiting another church, weren't complaining -- this place was unlike anything we'd ever seen.
Here we are, standing gobsmacked in the front of the chapel. It gives you a good idea of the size and the shape of the building. And I love the chandelier which you can see in the foreground.
This church was Otto Wagner's last commission, and he built it for the psychiatric hospital here, using many of the other great names of Jugenstil to help.
Yay Kolomon Moser! He's our man! If he can't do it, nobody can! He is my favorite Jugendstil dude, and Rob and I were able to buy a new reproduction of one of his original textiles when we were in Prague. It is so beautiful that we don't know what to do with it. Sometimes we put it on our dress mannequin, Sissi. Until Maddie has another attack of consience that it isn't modest enough.
If you click on this one to enlarge, you can see that each one of the halos has a different decoration around it. I could have stayed here for at least half an hour looking at all the myriad details in the decorations. As it was, it left us wanting more. And just in time, too, since Joss had figured out that the acoustics were right for him!
But when they closed and we got kicked out, it started to rain. And the Isaaks hadn't made it yet. They were still in the bus. So when they arrived, they went up the hill to visit at least the outside, having made the trip out, and then we all consoled ourselves with gulaschsuppe and semmel at a gasthaus across from the hospital.
Definite insanity all around.
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MOM said...

That church makes me with we had come to Vienna this time. It is amazing. Could Rob or a kid translate the German in the arched stained glass window for me?

Zina said...

That sounds like us trying to get to church 1.5 blocks away on Sunday mornings. (Not really. Not quite, anyway.)

Sorry for the fiasco you went through, but, wow, that's a beautiful church.

Frau Magister said...

I remember going there with Betsy. We decided that when we get locked away we'd choose the pavilion that was blaring U2.

Lois said...

Wow. That looks much nicer than the places where my relatives go to make leather wallets and hotpads.

professor rob said...


The German in the window is a version of the beatitudes. Between the angels at the top is "blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."