Ostarrichislam - The Mosque on Karlsplatz

Catalogue: Ostarrichislam- Fragmente achthundertjähriger gemeinsamer Geschichte. Amena Shakir/Gernot Galib Stanfel/ Martin M. Weinberger,, 2012 Vienna: Al Hambra

Everyone in Vienna (and many tourists) are familiar with „Karlskirche“. Johann Fischer von Erlach, the architect, obviously designed this famous building with a view to including oriental architecture and Islam – in line with his border crossing architectural philosophy. The result is most impressive indeed.  He presented the Roman-Catholic dynasty with an apologetic masterpiece of wordly powers.  A parallel to the Byzantine Empire comes to mind, with Constantinople before turning Islamic. Karlskirche was to become a symbol for a “Universal Temple”, this also in affinity with the Hagia Sophia – not the Christian church but the building after having been turned into an Islamic mosque, as demonstrated by the two towers in front of the cupola in the form of triumph columns but also minarets.

It should furthermore be appreciated that this church is not directed eastwards but south eastwards, almost in the direction towards Mecca. To get a genuine feeling of the situation one should walk along Naschmarkt* on a warm summer day and then sit down in the shade of Karskirche and discover that it is cast in the form of an Islamic mosque …   

*) the most traditional market in Vienna, displaying goods from all over the world.