My Vienna: peek into city districts 1 to 23
Above/featured: Aspern lake at the Aspern Seestadt housing development in the 22nd district. At right in the background to the north are the Danube Tower and northern hills. Photo, 7 Jun 2022.
From early-2002 to mid-2003, I lived and worked in Heidelberg, and I travelled to Vienna at least six times across all seasons for collaboration work between MPIA and the University of Vienna. Unfortunately, I didn’t own a camera, and I have zero images from that time. “Oiiida.”
After a 15-year pause, I returned to Vienna for one week in May 2018 for the 100-year anniversary of Vienna Modernism. I brought 2 cameras, and I made a few photographs here and there. I’ve always needed more, and four years later in May 2022, I stayed in Vienna for four weeks.
The historic bread- and pastry-making company, Anker, once had a motto known among the Viennese:
Worauf freut sich der Wiener, wenn er vom Urlaub kommt? Auf Hochquellwasser und Ankerbrot.
To what do the Viennese look forward after returning from vacation? Spring water and Ankerbrot.
For all of us who’re visitors to Vienna, I put forward the modified question:
Worauf freut sich ein(e) Besucher(in), wenn man nach Wien kommt?
To what does a visitor look forward in Vienna?
There are many answers for many people. There’s art, coffee, Jugendstil, music, wine; these are only five in a lengthy list. Vienna is more than a desirable visitor location; the city reclaimed the top spot in the The Economist’s EIU Global Liveability Index for 2022.
I got to explore at least one point of interest in each of the city’s 23 Bezirke or districts. Not only did I spend a lot of time in the inner city or 1st district, but I also made my fair share in the 6th, 9th, 18th, and 19th districts. Below I provide from each of the city’s 23 districts a couple of personal highlights which may be of interest to both resident and visitor. There are more interesting locations, about which I’ll describe separately.
The first image below is a map of Vienna and the city’s districts; north is at top. The Danube river flows from northwest to southeast (top left to lower right). The present configuration and numbering has been in effect since the mid-1950s. The areas on the west and east side of the Danube are often called Cisdanubia and Transdanubia, respectively. The Vienna international airport (VIE) is outside city limits to the southeast.
The 23 districts
- Innere Stadt
1. Innere Stadt
“The Last Supper”, Minoritenkirche
A 1-to-1 copy of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” with dimensions 9.18 metres by 4.47 metres (30.1 feet by 14.7 feet) hangs inside Vienna’s Minoritenkirche (Minorite Church). What’s unique about the copy is the visibility of bright colours and of Jesus’ feet under the table.
On his conquering marches through Europe in the early 19th-century, France’s Napoleon had commissioned a full copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1497 “The Last Supper” to be made and brought to Paris. Artist Giacomo Raffaelli completed the life-sized mosaic copy in 1814, but Napoleon lost the fight and his grip on Europe. Austrian Emperor Francis I (Franz I) purchased and moved the piece to Vienna, but the art work did not fit within the Belvedere palace’s spaces as intended. The painting has been housed within the Minoritenkirche since the 1830s.
The original church built for Franciscan monks at this location goes back to the 13th-century. For its Italian congregation, the present-day church is known as Italienische Nationalkirche Maria Schnee Minoritenkirche. Both church and Minoritenplatz square lie over U-Bahn station Herrengasse which opened in 1991 for service on the U3 line.
Vienna’s smallest vineyard (Wiens kleinste Weingarten)
The Austrian capital city is home to the world’s largest “urban vineyard” and is the world’s only capital producing wine within its city limits. There are some 600 wine producers; 400 individual vineyards; and over 7 million square metres (75 million square feet) of cultivation space producing both white and red wines in a 80/20 split, respectively. The average annual yield is 2 million litres or over 2.5 million bottles of wine. Most of the wine is sold for immediate consumption at wine shops and grocery stores, and at the city’s many Heurige or wine taverns.
At Schwarzenbergplatz, people unknowingly walk past a tiny vineyard with a soundtrack of cars and trams. Mayer Weingut has a small plot of land of about 150 square metres (1615 square feet) in front of Palace Wiener von Welten. Sufficient numbers of grapes grow to yield about 60 bottles of white wine (Grüner Veltliner, Gemischter Satz), which are auctioned off for charity every December. (The Wiener von Welten family has a mausoleum in the Old Jewish Cemetery at Zentralfriedhof.)
Augarten: Flaktürme VII Gefechtsturm
Looming large in Augarten park are two monstrosities as testaments to Nazi megalomania. They are the flak-tower pair number 7 with battle- and control-tower (Flaktürme VII), whose construction with slave labour was completed in early 1945. At 55 metres (180 feet), the battle tower casts a large shadow on the popular green space. In the far distance, a mother with a baby stroller stand near the bottom of the battle-tower. A giant crack appears at the upper right (northeast) of the tower.
Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Library & Learning Centre (WU LLC)
A completely different kind of architectural piece appears at the north end of the Prater. Next to the Messe Wien, a brand new campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business opened in October 2013. The centrepiece is the Library & Learning Centre, designed by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Sleek lines and smooth curves symbolize the surge forward into the 21st-century; some of the interiors look straight out of “Star Trek.”
Biedermeier St. Marxer Friedhof
St. Marx cemetery began with its first burials in 1783, but by 1873, the city’s multiple neighbourhood cemeteries were closed, and all funeral functions were funnelled to the newly constructed Zentralfriedhof located well outside the city centre.
As with all burials for non-royal and non-rich at the time, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was buried at St. Marx cemetery in 1791 within a common grave. The exact location of his burial remains unknown to this day. What appears today as “Mourning Genius” sculpture and memorial column for Mozart were created by sculptor Florian Josephu-Drouot in 1950 during a restoration process.
The Sünnhof is an example of a Viennese “Durchgang”; in this case, it’s an open passage cutting through a single building. The strong afternoon light on a warm late-spring day provides both illumination and shadow, highlighting the brightly coloured umbrellas suspended above and the commercial use in the spaces below. It’s a beautiful space to sit back and sip some coffee, tea, wine, or beer. Renovations in the early-1980s saved the 19th-century Biedermeier-style building from neglect and demolition.
Attached to the outside wall of an apartment building at Johann-Strauss-Gasse 10 is a sculpture of the opening notes of Johann Strauss II’s composition “An der schönen blauen Donau” (The Blue Danube). Just up the street (at number 4) is the location where Strauss II lived and died. With the city’s music halls bursting with music, Vienna’s streets were full with the presence and traces of composers including Strauss II, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, among others.
Surrounded by her children, a woman appeals to a higher authority. Made by sculptor Siegfried Charoux in 1950, “Die Waffen nieder!” (lay down your weapons!) is a memorial to Bertha von Suttner, whose 1889 pacifist anti-war novel of the same title would win her acclaim with the 1905 Nobel Peace Prize. Suttner was the first Austrian and second woman in the world (after Marie Curie) to receive a Nobel Prize. The Suttner memorial statue is located next to the Bertha-Suttner-Hof apartment complex.
Social housing has formed a large part of Vienna’s fabric and identity since the 1920s. One of the earliest housing estates is the Reumannhof, named after Jakob Reumann, who in 1919 became the city’s 1st socialist mayor and established social housing in the city. The Reumannhof project was completed in 1926 with 450 individual apartments. In the central courtyard is a bust dedicated to Reumann, as well as a 1984 memorial plaque commemorating the 50th anniversary of an armed stand opposing fascism. The physical layout alludes to Schönbrunn palace, which is why the project was given the nickname “Volkswohnungspaläste” (people’s apartment palaces).
I’ve just arrived in the city, marking the start of my month-long stay in the Austrian capital. I’m staying in the 6th district, and to get some bearings of my surrounding neighbourhood, I’m on an evening walk along the Vienna river, crossing over to the 5th district. Many are enjoying a beautiful late-spring evening at a modest public space with plenty of wood benches and river plants. Completed in 2015, the Vienna valley terrace hangs over the U4 U-Bahn metro line, next to the gentle trickle of the Vienna river on its way to meet with the Danube. This popular “bridging” of communities could spark the construction of additional terraces along the Vienna river in the future.
The Fillgraderstiege (Fillgrader staircase) was designed by Maximilian Hegele and completed in 1907 as an example of Art Nouveau architecture. Some have called this set of stairs Austria’s “most beautiful steps”, ranking in Europe behind Rome’s Spanish Steps, Paris’ Sacre Coeur steps, and Rhodes’ Athena temple. Once a student with Otto Wagner, Hegele went on to remodel gates 2 and 3 at the city’s Zentralfriedhof (central cemetery) in 1910 and designed the cemetery’s main church in 1911.
Theater an der Wien
One of the great music and theatre venues in the city, the 1801 Theater an der Wien (Theatre next to the Vienna) is strongly connected with composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven lived in the building as in-house composer in 1803 and 1804; he wrote and debut his only opera “Fidelio” and his 3rd Symphony (“Eroica”) in E-flat major, Op. 55. On a very cold night of 22 December 1808, several of his compositions got their first performances here: 5th Symphony (“Schicksal”) in C minor, Op. 67; 6th Symphony (“Pastorale”) in F major, Op. 68; first Vienna performance of “Gloria” and “Sanctus” from the Mass in C major, Op. 86; first public performance of Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58; Choral Fantasy, Op. 80. In late-1932, an 18-year old Hedwig Kiesler was the 2nd actress to play the lead role of “Sissy” (Sisi), an operetta about Habsburg Empress Elizabeth; Kiesler would later be known as actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr.
The city library’s main or central branch, Hauptbücherei, straddles the Gürtel (belt road) above the U-Bahn station Burggasse-Stadthalle at Urban-Loritz-Platz. The outside staircase’s pyramidal lines lead visitors up above to an open public terrace and rooftop restaurant called “Oben” which in this context means “up top”. Designed by architect Ernst Mayr and opened to the public in 2003, the library carries over 400-thousand books and audiovisual items.
The Museumquartier (Museum Quarter, MQ) space hosts a number of museums, open seating space, cafés, an art & photography bookstore, and cultural spaces. The Leopold Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of the works by Egon Schiele, one of the key figures in Vienna Modernism (Wiener Moderne). On the south side of the Leopold Museum is a separate set of elevators whisking visitors to the “MQ Libelle” rooftop terrace free of charge for an overview of the MQ and the city at large.
A golden lion stands guard over Josefstädter Strasse, as the number 2 tram trundles past. With distinctive font type and large font size as reminder, this apothecary has been around since 1782. With low overall literacy rates in the past, building identifiers instead of addresses were used; in this case, the apothecary was called “Zum goldenen Löwen” (At the golden lion). Viennese were receiving prescriptions and health advice here 85 years before Canada established itself as a “dominion” (nation). Today, the apothecary is called Alte Löwen-Apotheke (Old Lion Apothecary), where I pick up some extra vitamin supplements.
Theater in der Josefstadt
Across the street from the “golden lion” is the city’s oldest functioning theatre. Theater in der Josefstadt goes back to 1788 with a redesign in 1822 by architect Josef Kornhäusel, who also designed the Jenamy building in the city’s 16th district (see below). In this theatre, Hedy Kiesler made her live-stage debut in the comedy “Das Schwache Geschlecht” (The Weaker Sex) in May 1931 at the age of 16; she would later go onto fame as actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr.
Dr. Ignaz-Semmelweis-Denkmal, Medizinische Universität Wien
Tucked into a quiet space within the campus of the Medical University of Vienna is a memorial to Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865). Born in Hungary, Dr. Semmelweis became a medical doctor in Vienna where he worked in obstetrics. He figured out that the simple practice of washing hands could greatly reduce the high mortality rate of new mothers with “childhood fever” which in the 19th-century was a major public health issue. The general medical community of the time dismissed Semmelweis and banished him from Vienna. Semmelweis was proved correct posthumously with Louis Pasteur’s germ theory of disease and Joseph Lister’s use of antiseptics to limit infections. Semmelweis was subsequently honoured as “Retter der Mütter” (Saviour of Mothers) for his steady insistence and support for hand-washing in general medical practice. In 2008, the Medical University of Vienna unveiled a memorial statue to Semmelweis, created by Hungarian sculptor Péter Párkányi Raab.
Wohnbau Spittelauer Stadtbahnbögen, Müllverbrennungsanlage Spittelau
I’m off the U4 train at Friedensbrücke station for a morning walk on the east side of the Danube canal. It’s not long when I catch sight of the goal. Designed by British-Iranian architect Zaha Hadid, the Spittelau Railway Viaducts Housing Projects (Wohnbau Spittelauer Stadtbahnbögen) was completed in 2006 as a local renewal project. Unfortunately, the location is awkward, squeezed between canal and proximity to an adjacent roadway, tbe Spittelau train station, and the city’s waste plant. The developer went bankrupt and the project never realized its intended function. Just north of the housing project, city utility Wien Energie operates a waste incineration plant (Müllverbrennungsanlage), whose tower is a landmark visible from many parts of the city. After fire destroyed the first incineration plant in 1987, the replacement facility with colourful facade was designed by Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and completed in 1992.
Ankerbrotfabrik / Brotfabrik Wien
In four weeks, I’ve spent a modest sum on pastries from Anker shops throughout the city. The Mendl brothers started making bread in 1891, turning the “Anker” operation into the largest in Europe by the turn of the century. While bread and pastries continue to be made on-site, a portion of the former bread-making factory was converted to art- and culture-space Brotfabrik Wien with inauguration in 2015. I stop by Ostlicht photography gallery to check out some of the prints on exhibition and for sale.
Operating on the top of a hill within the Laa forest (Laaer Wald) since 1883, the Bohemian Prater is a compact amusement park once built for blue-collar workers from Bohemia who once lived in the surrounding area. The park is not as large or flashy as the massive Prater in the 2nd district, but this fairground does not lack rides for the kids. A number of young families are here on a pleasant day, but Wednesday afternoon in early June before school vacations means there’s more mechanical noise than people noise; this place is gonna hop on summer evenings. The Bohemian Prater is also home to Europe’s oldest carousel (merry-go-round) that was first built in 1890.
Zentralfriedhof (central cemetery)
Was Minona von Stackelberg (1813–1897) the daughter of Ludwig van Beethoven? Perhaps; we’ll probably never know. She was one of many notable people buried in the city’s central cemetery. I’ve a big list of people, and I’ve come here looking for physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. With more buried in the cemetery (3 million) than there are people alive in the city (2 million), “Todesstadt” (city for the dead) is an appropriate nickname for the cemetery.
Neue Jüdischer Friedhof
To the east of the central cemetery is 4. Tor (gate 4) for the New Jewish Cemetery, owned and managed separately by IKG Wien (Jewish Community of Vienna). I’ve come here to look for physicist Dr. Marietta Blau, whose pioneering work on particle detection paved the way for research on cosmic rays, nuclear physics, and particle physics; and whose life story is one of quiet dedication and perseverance, against the forces of racism and misogyny.
Born and raised in Vienna, Hedwig Kiesler would find her way to fame as Hedy Lamarr on the “big screen” in the United States during the first half of the 20th-century. She also had a keen creative mind, and she is recognized as co-inventor of the technology which is fundamental to the wireless world of the 21st-century. The city of Vienna provided in 2006 the naming of “Hedy-Lamarr-Weg” within the Kabelwerk, a former industrial complex converted to rental-housing and cultural space. The accompanying description is “Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000): Schauspielerin, Erfinderin” (Actress, Inventor).
Near Stiegerbrücke (U4/U6 Längenfeldgasse)
Working public transport is important for the heartbeat and operation of a real city. I like the visual look of train stations with the meshwork of electrical wires overhead and the network of railway tracks below; I’m especially fond of junction- and end-stations. I hop out of the U4 train at Längenfeldgasse station and head up to the surface to see a part of the junction station, where the following east-facing view highlights tracks for the U4 and the U6 U-Bahn lines next to the river Wien (Vienna). Visible are trains on three of the four tracks: U6 to Siebenhirten, U4 to Heiligenstadt, and U6 to Floridsdorf. Also visible in the distance is Otto Wagner’s elevated railway bridge in the city’s 15th district; see below.
The Lainzer Tiergarten (Lainz Animal Garden) is a vast green space with an area of 2450 hectares (over 6000 acres) extending west into the Wiener Wald (Vienna Forest). It’s a warm sunny busy Sunday, and I’ve entered the park at its southeastern Lainzer Tor or Lainz Gate. The park’s nature reserve is famous for a variety of birds, insects, and animals, including boar, sheep, and deer. I’m fortunate to witness a family of deer on the other side of the protective fence. They are as curious about the bipeds as we are about them.
Schönbrunner Schlosspark (Schönbrunn palace and park) is named after an Alpine-fed water spring and fountain, the “Schöner Brunnen”, that once supplied fresh water to the imperial court at their summertime estate. Legend states Habsburg Emperor Matthias discovered the “fair spring” or “Schöner Brunnen” in 1612 during one of his hunting trips on these grounds. I’m interested in origins, and that leaves me essentially by myself next to the building which houses the park’s namesake. During Empress Maria Theresa’s reign, she had the main palace repainted in mustard-yellow. By 1771, architect Isidor Canevale designed the present-day pavilion over the spring; at the grotto’s centre the sculpture of water nymph, Egeria, pours spring water from her vase into a scallop shell. Although the modest building is locked, I see the still-working fountain inside accompanied by sounds of gurgling water.
Otto Wagner, an architect in the Vienna Modernism movement, constructed the first of two family homes in the area in 1886. Viennese-born artist Ernst Fuchs purchased Wagner’s 1st villa in 1972, and subsequently restored the entire house into a living studio. After the artist’s death in 2015, the family established the Ernst-Fuchs-Museum to house and display the artist’s works. Next to the museum building is Fuchs’ 1996 creation Nymphäum Omega “Brunnenhaus” (fountain building), a big splash of colour and sparkle surrounded by trees and highlighted by the Moses fountain.
In the permanent collection of Vienna’s Museum of Technology is a prototype of a car, powered by a water-cooled 4-stroke single-cylinder engine with output 0.55 kilowatt (0.75 horsepower) and top speed of 8 km/h (5 mph). Inventor Siegfried Marcus constructed his prototype independently of and most likely before Carl Benz, but Benz patented his own vehicle a few years before Marcus. Marcus’ surviving 2nd prototype from 1888–1889 resides in the museum, as his 1st prototype no longer exists. Because of his Jewish heritage, the Marcus name and his accomplishments were wiped from Austria’s history books by the Nazis after their annexation of Austria.
Brücke über die Zeile
The green bridge and stone pillars for the elevated U6 metro line is a fine sight in morning light against blue skies; see also above in the 12th district. Completed in 1898, the bridge has multiple names: Brücke über die Zeile, Otto-Wagner-Brücke, Brücke über die Gumpendorfer Zeile, Wientalbrücke. Early 20th-century architect Otto Wagner was responsible for the design and construction of the bridge for the “Gürtellinie” or “belt route”, as part of the city’s brand new municipal railway of the time. After threats of demolition, the bridge was fortunately saved and preserved, in use now as an important part of the city’s U-Bahn network.
There’s a solemn statue of a boy wearing a kippah and sitting on a large suitcase. The statue “Für das Kind” (For the child) commemorates the “Kindertransport” (children’s transport) rescue operation from 1938 to 1939, where an estimated 10-thousand children, most of them Jewish, were evacuated to Great Britain, saving them from the reach of the Nazis. Many children were sole survivors, as whole families were annihilated in Nazi concentration camps. Venezuelan-British artist Dr. Flor Kent created the memorial statue; in gratitude, Austria dedicated the statue to Great Britain. Unveiling of the statue occurred in 2008 on the 70th anniversary of the operation at Westbahnhof station, where most children began their long journey to safety.
Shown above is a memorial to Empress Elisabeth, better known as “Sisi”. Empress Elizabeth: born 24 Dec 1837, died 10 Sep 1898. The statue of Empress Elisabeth once stood at Vienna Westbahnhof train station, highlighting the naming of the “Empress Elisabeth Railway” as east-west rail connection between Vienna and Salzburg. After the station opening in 1858, artist Hans Gasser created the sculpture in 1860 for the building’s facade. With heavy damage in 1945 by Allied bombing, restoration finally occurred in 1984 for the Lower Austria State Collection exhibition. After the station’s renovations in 2011, the statue found its way back “home” and sits inside the station building as direct reference to the late 19th-century “Elisabeth Railway”.
Beginning in 1830, the Brunnenmarkt remains as one of the last two street markets in Vienna; the other remaining street market is Kutschkermarkt in the 18th district. Brunnenmarkt is open every day with a big farmers’ market every Saturday. A cacophony of sight, smell, and sound, the market is full of people, chatter, colour, produce, and all sorts of food from around the world. There’s now a growing and delicious Arabic and Syrian scene at the market, pumping further variety and diversification into the market and beyond.
Josef Kornhäusel was a prolific Austrian architect in the Biedermeier period of the early 19th-century. Examples of his architectural works in Vienna include part of the Schottenhof, the Kornhäuselturm, and Stadttempel in the 1st district; as well as Theater in der Josefstadt in the 8th district (see above). Kornhäusel designed and built a country home for the Jenamy merchant family in 1804; extensive renovations were completed in 2008 with use as commercial and communal space today.
Vienna’s own “Via Dolorosa” was laid out in the 17th-century, between St. Stephen’s cathedral and Calvary Church located here on top of a hill. A staircase on each side leads up to the church’s “ground floor” conveys the climb Christ made to his own crucifixion on Golgotha hill. The memorial plaque next to the east staircase is dedicated to composer Franz Schubert, who on 3 November 1828 attended a performance of the Latin Requiem composed by his older brother Ferdinand. This would be Franz’s final attendance at a music event; he died 16 days later.
Every year, the third generation of the Perzy family continue to make by hand thousands of snow globes sold and distributed around the world. They might not have been the first, but they’re definitely the Vienna originals, back to the first construction by grandfather Perzy in 1900. Today, the free-to-enter shop and museum display countless globes with motifs past and present, many available for sale and various one of a kind not-for-sale specials. Naturally, I snapped up 3 of the 45-mm globes, and had them immediately shipped back across the world to my nieces in Canada.
First established in 1872, the Cottage Quarter celebrates its 150th anniversary year in 2022. A unique project in housing reform inside Europe, the quarter was planned and constructed with private-backing as the city’s garden district as a “non-profit project for healthy and affordable living for the middle-class in the outer city”. For the 21st-century visitor, it’s a nice quiet stroll through late 19th-century mid-to-upper class homes in Vienna. Well-known Viennese writers Felix Salten (“Bambi”) and Arthur Schnitzler (“Traumnovelle”) had their homes in the Cottage Quarter. Today, the area is home to about 6000 residents and spread out over an area 1.05 square kilometres (259 acres).
Inaugurated in 1991 and dedicated to the memory of the 13th-century Turkish poet and mystic, the Yunus-Emre-Brunnen (Yunus Emre Fountain) is a physical manifestation of the friendship and non-enmity between Austria and Turkey. There’s plenty of smug finger-waving over the two failed Ottoman sieges in 1529 and 1683. And yet, the Viennese today are all about flaky Apfelstrudel (made with filo pastry), buttery Kipferl crescents, strong dark Kaffee, big plate-sized crispy Schnitzel, and juicy tender Döner stuffed into fresh baked bread. Na gut, aber komm schon: Ottoman culture really did win out in the end, and we’re all the better for it.
Morning sun streams down Kahlenberger Strasse where a number of Heuriger (wine taverns) sit quietly before the rustle of activity slowly builds to a bustle of visitors later in the day. A hanging bunch of pine branches next to the door is a visual symbol indicating the wine tavern is open for business (“ausg’steckt”). In 1787, Kierlinger bought property with a farm at street address 20, establishing vineyards, a wine tavern, and a long family tradition of wine-making.
Residents and visitors can go up to the city’s northern heights for wide sweeping views over the city. There’s a choice of Am Cobenzl/Reisenberg (382 metres), Kahlenberg (484 m), and Leopoldsberg (425 m); all are accessible with public transport. Leopoldsberg provides a little extra the other two vistas don’t: a peek north over the “other side” of the hills and into Lower Austria.
Brigittenauer Sporn at dusk
I discovered this part of the city in 2018 when the city celebrated 100 years of Vienna Modernism, including the architectural work of the Nussdorf weir by Otto Wagner. I return 4 years later to discover something new at dusk. Aside from low murmurs of conversation, the only other sound is of water lapping against the shoreline. A long barge or tour boat occasionally interrupts the meditative contemplation. This is a place of idyll with a view of the urban skyline over both banks of the Danube river.
Another example of the post-World War I “Red Vienna” movement and “Gemeindebau” social housing can be found with the Otto-Haas-Hof building. This apartment complex at Winarskystrasse 16-20 was designed by architects Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, Franz Schuster, Karl Dirnhuber, and Adolf Loos; construction was completed in 1926. The apartment building was renamed after Otto Haas in 1950. He was a teacher who lived in this very building. He became a resistance fighter, but in 1944, the Nazis caught and imprisoned him, and sentenced him to death.
Appearing at various spots along the Beethovenweg (Beethoven path) are 9 copies of a single sculpture in the form of “a broken tuning-fork.” There are supposed to be 9 sculptures representing Beethoven’s famous 9th Symphony, and the “broken” appearance of each sculpture symbolizes his catastrophic loss of hearing. Beethoven spent time here in Floridsdorf, staying with the Erdődy noble family.
The pedestrian-bicycle Jedlesee Bridge is another access point onto the Donauinsel (Danube Island) with the Danube river on one side and the New Danube on the other side. I’m in the middle of the “Kirschenhain” (Cherry Tree Grove), but early June is long past any flower bloom. The green space and this scene are magnificent, but I can only imagine how this might all appear with cherry trees in full blossom. Japan gifted 1000 cherry trees to Vienna on the 1000th anniversary of Austria in 1996 (after the “Ostarrichi Document” of 996 AD/CE).
I’ve gone more than 8000 km to the other side of the planet to see ground rodents. But they’re not just any rodents. European ground squirrels have an “assigned space” in the park, but nature has a much better sense of humour. The small furry rodents sure like to roam. They’re understandably skittish, but also seem to tolerate and recognize tall fleshy bipeds.
The Blumengärten Hirschstetten park includes a flower nursery and garden, small vineyard, apiary, and a little zoo. Remarkably, there’s no admission charge to the park which is managed and operated by the city of Vienna. The park might be “far from the city centre” for many visitors, but that’s also why it’s attractive and definitely worth the trip with public transport.
The present-day Alte Donau (Old Danube) is a closed water feature, cut off from the rest of the Danube. Access to its eastern end is by way of the U-Bahn U2 to station “Donaustadtbrücke”. At the southern end of the Alte Donau, I watch various kayakers on their morning glides: there are a few solos, some duos, and finally, an 8-person team. It’s a beautifully peaceful start to an early-summer day. The Alte Donau lake is a recreational area complete with parks, bike paths, and restaurants. Next time, I’d like to see the Alte Donau from the “other end”: Floridsdorfer Wasserpark in the 21st district.
Lying a short distance from Atzgersdorf train station are a small park and memorial statue named after Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930). The inscription on the accompanying plaque provides some description:
Norwegian polar explorer, statesman and humanist. Led the 1st Fram expedition to the Arctic Ocean, 1893–1896. League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1920-1930. Directed the repatriation of prisoners of war (World War 1) and measures against famine in Russia. Created the Nansen Pass for refugees. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.
Norwegischer Polarforscher, Staatsmann, und Humanist. Führt die Fram-Expedition ins Arktische Meer. Völkerbundkommissär. Leitet die Heimbeförderung von Kriegsgefangenen und Massnahmen gegen die Hungersnot in Russland. Schafft den Nansenpass für Flüchtlinge. Erhält 1922 den Friedensnobelpreis.
More than one million people became refugees after Russia’s October Revolution in 1917 and subsequent civil war. As High Commissioner for Refugee Affairs of the League of Nations, Fridtjof Nansen introduced the “Nansen Passport” in 1922 allowing Russian emigres to stay abroad; the Soviet Union was founded in the same year. The reach of the Nansen Passpart would later be extended to other refugee groups.
On my search for unusual architecture, I’m in the southwest corner of the city on a short walk adjacent to the Wienerwald (Vienna forest), and uphill to the top of St. Georgenberg hill. The “blocky” building is a church with the name of Kirche zur Heiligsten Dreifaltigkeit (Church of the Holy Trinity), but it’s also commonly known as the Wotruba church designed by sculptor Fritz Wotruba in collaboration with architect Fritz Gerhard Mayer. Unfortunately, Wortruba died before completion and inauguration in 1976. At first glance, the arrangement of 152 unadorned blocks of concrete seem random; at second glance (or squint), the structure looks like a pile of stones. But there was in fact a method, as Wotruba wanted to express how “harmony can rise out from chaos.”
Wotruba is buried in the city’s central cemetery; I think his vertical blocky headstone refers to the blocks at this church in Liesing.
All of the visits described above were neither requested nor sponsored. I made all images above with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime between 14 May and 12 June 2022 (over 12600 images). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-mTo.
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