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The story of the Schwarzspanierstrasse

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If you have taken the trams 37, 38, 40, 41, or 42 from the station Schottentor, you will likely remember the name of the first stop: “Schwarzspanierstrasse” (The “Black Spaniard street” in English). Don’t you think the name sounds peculiar? In the 1620s, members of the order of Saint Benedict came to Vienna and built a church and a monastery close to the Schottentor (“The Scottish Gate”) in 1633. Unfortunately, this church did not survive the second Ottoman siege, but a new one was built in the 1690s. At some point in the late 18th century the order moved out of this church and since then the church served many others: services for Habsburgs soldiers, storehouse for the Habsburg army, services for the Lutheran church, services for the Russian Orthodox church, and, in its last reincarnation, a dorm and event location. However, the only part left of the church is the façade as a bomb hit it in 1944 and the rest of it could not be saved. But why “Black Spaniard”? Very simple: The first members of the Benedict order that came to Vienna were from Spain and used to wear black habits. Therefore, people referred to them as the black Spaniards! (Cr)