In 1853 Franz Josef I survived an assassination attempt when a knife-wielding Hungarian failed to find the emperor’s neck through his collar. The Votivkirche was commissioned in thanks for his lucky escape; in stepped Heinrich von Ferstel with a twin-towered, mosaic-roofed neo-Gothic construction, completed in 1879. The prize exhibit of the small church museum, closed for refurbishment in 2019 with an uncertain reopening time, is the Antwerp Altar from 1460.

The rather bleak church interior is bedecked with frescoes and bulbous chandeliers, and the tomb of Count Niklas Salm, one of the architects of the successful defence against the Turks in 1529, is in the Baptismal Chapel.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Vienna attractions

1. University Main Building

0.15 MILES

Founded in 1365, Vienna’s venerable university was the first in the German-speaking countries. Today it enrols up to 95,000 students. Grand Duke Rudolph…

2. Beethoven Pasqualatihaus

0.25 MILES

Beethoven resided on the 4th floor of this house from 1804 to 1814 (he apparently lived in around 80 places in his 35 years in Vienna, but thankfully not…

3. Wien Museum MUSA

0.27 MILES

This exhibition space hosts contemporary art exhibitions, such as retrospectives of major artists. During the renovations of Vienna's history museum, the…

4. Sigmund Freud Museum

0.27 MILES

Sigmund Freud is a bit like the telephone – once he happened, there was no going back. This is where Freud spent his most prolific years and developed the…

5. Bethaus

0.28 MILES

This tiny Jewish prayer house, replete with an atrium roof, is part of the Alten AKH university campus; it was originally built in 1903 for Jewish…

6. Josephinum

0.29 MILES

Architecture fans sometimes visit this Enlightenment-era complex for its superb 1785 neoclassical structures alone, although Joseph II's purpose-built…

7. Rathaus

0.32 MILES

Vienna's neo-Gothic City Hall, completed in 1883 by Friedrich von Schmidt (who designed Cologne Cathedral) and modelled on Flemish city halls, with lacy…

8. Schottenkirche

0.35 MILES

The Schottenkirche (Church of the Scots), at the northern end of Herrengasse, was founded by Benedictine monks probably originating from Scotia Maior …