1904 – 1907
Architect: Otto Wagner
Baumgartner Höhe 1, Vienna
The Catholic church at Steinhof was built from 1904 to 1907 according to designs by Otto Wagner.
It is considered one of the most important examples of Viennese Art Nouveau and was built in the course of the construction of the Lower Austrian Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home for the Nervous and Mentally Ill Am Steinhof (today Otto Wagner Hospital).
The church building is located on the grounds of the Baumgartner Höhe Social Medical Center in the Viennese district, Penzing, which has been part of the newly established Penzing Clinic since 2020.
The leaded glass windows were designed by Koloman Moser and executed by Leopold Forstner.
The western window with the motto „Verily I say unto you. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me“ shows the bodily virtues.
The eastern window with the motto „Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy“ shows the spiritual virtues.
The most striking feature of the church is the gilded dome and the statues of St. Leopold and the preacher Severin enthroned on the bell towers in front of it.
Otto Wagner subjected even the smallest detail in the interior to the principle of usefulness as the church of a psychiatric institution.
Beauty, splendid furnishings and cheerfulness were to provide a liberating experience for the sick.
Hard edges were avoided to prevent injury, and the pew rows are shortened to better reach patients.
The tiled floor has a slight slope for optimal cleaning. The holy water basins are equipped with running water to prevent infections.
Color is used sparingly in the church interior, concentrating on the altar and windows.
Renovation and Restoration
The church has been owned by the city of Vienna since 1920, when Vienna became a federal state of Austria.
By the 1990s, the structure had fallen into disrepair.
On October 1, 2006, the church was reopened after about six years of renovation.
The dome had been regilded using 2 kg of gold leaf, the tambour base had been renewed with artificially patinated copper sheets, and the Carrara marble facade had been completely replaced.
Windows, mosaics and figures were carefully cleaned and restored. The popular altar and ambo were newly erected.
The golden dome, now shining in new splendor and visible from afar and reminiscent of half a lemon, gives the Baumgartner Höhe, on which the church is located, its nicknames Lemoniberg or Limoniberg.