Above/featured: The cemetery’s Gate 2 (2. Tor) designed by Maximilian Hegele, who was Otto Wagner’s student and also responsible for the construction of the Fillgraderstiege steps in Mariahilf.
Where: Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof).
Who: Beethoven, Boltzmann, Falco, Lamarr, Schütte-Lihotzky, Strauss I and II.
Why: Cross-section of cultural and economic history for capital city and nation.
In Vienna, tram 71 begins in the Old Town; goes around the western half of the inner ring past City Hall, national Parliament, and the Opera House; and heads southeast to the city’s main cemetery or the Zentralfriedhof. There’s a saying particular to the city’s residents, a phrase which means they’ve died by “going to the end of the line.”
“Sie haben den 71er genommen.” (“They took the 71.”)
As Europe’s 2nd largest cemetery, the Zentralfriedhof covers a surface area of 250 hectares (618 acres). There are over 300-thousand graves, among them 1000 are in the “honorary” or Ehrengräber category. Over three million people of all religious denominations are buried in the cemetery, which was established in 1863 with the first burial taking place in 1874. In the present, 20 to 25 funerals take place every day.
I had at the outset wanted to find the graves of a couple of physicists whose work formed an important part of my scientific education. Then, I discovered the names of musicians buried here. Then, I learned the names of important figures in Vienna’s history. And then, I realized coming here to visit would be a slow measured sweeping wave through Austria’s artistic, cultural, and industrial history.