The Votive Church was consecrated on 24 April 1879, on the day of the Silver Wedding of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. Work on the plans for the church had already started in 1854, just a few months after an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the emperor. His brother, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian (the future Emperor of Mexico), appealed for donations "in gratitude for the sparing of His Majesty" in order to construct this church. Votive churches are mostly built as thanks for being rescued from an emergency – hence the name. In the end, the architect Heinrich von Ferstel was commissioned with the project.
Only the Steffl is taller
The three-nave neo-Gothic basilica in the French cathedral design is one of the most important buildings of European Historicism. Due to its location on the Ringstrasse, the Votive Church was also called the "Ringstrasse cathedral". Its two towers are unmistakable. The Municipal Council of Vienna once allocated 150,000 guilders for its completion. The sacred building in the immediate vicinity of the main building of the University of Vienna is impossible to miss, not only for its imposing nature: At a height of 99 meters, the Votive Church is the second-tallest church in Vienna after St. Stephen's Cathedral. Also famous are its 78 stained glass windows, which have also displayed modern motifs since the restoration carried out in the 1970s.
The Votive Church is a cosmopolitan place of workshop and is used by various non-German speaking Christians in Vienna. Holy Mass is held here every Sunday in several languages at 11.30 am.
Museum in the Votive Church
A museum is also housed in the church, or more precisely, in the former court oratorium. It lies in an elevated area above the altar that was previously accessible only to the imperial family. The oldest and most magnificent exhibition piece is the "Antwerp Altar" from the 15th century, which is considered to be the most important surviving artwork of this genre. The museum, which reopened in autumn 2021 after renovation work, can be visited during opening hours and by prior appointment.