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In the past, the Augustinian church was the starting point of the imperial household for pilgrimages and processions and for funerals.
And now it is also a mandatory stop, because in this church, which boasts one of the best Gothic interiors in the city, is the Herzgruft, the crypt in which 54 Habsburg hearts are stored in silver urns. If you want to see the Herzgruft, you should visit the chapel of Loreto. According to the rite, the bodies of the imperial family would rest in the crypt of the Capuchin Church, their guts would go to the crypt of St. Stephen and their hearts would be kept here.
But this church has not only been used for funerals, it has been used for other happier events; numerous weddings of the imperial family took place here; in 1736 Empress Maria Theresa married Francisco Esteban von Lothringen, in 1854 emperor Franz José I married Sisi, later in 1881 Crown prince Rodolfo married princess Stephanie and even the French emperor Napoleon and Maria Luisa were married here in 1810.
Another major attraction of this church built between 1330 and 1339 is the monumental tomb of Archduchess Maria Christina, the favourite daughter of Empress Maria Theresa. This beautiful tomb of Carrara marble that reflects the great sadness of the widow was sculpted between 1798 and 1805 by Antonio Canova, and, due to its technical perfection and the purity of the classically-inspired lines, is considered one of the masterpieces of the great artist.
The beautiful pulpit, the high altar and two magnificent organs should also be highlighted.
The Augustinian church is also known for its ancient links with music. It also houses two organs; Schubert directed his Mass in F major here and Bruckner first played his Mass in F minor here.
Even if you are not very religious, it is worth visiting this temple on a Sunday for the spectacular Mass regularly involving an orchestra and a large choir with music by Schubert, Mozart or Haydn. A real treat for the soul.
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