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Posts tagged ‘Vienna’

My Vienna: Beethoven, the 6th, & Heiligenstadt

Above/featured: Memorial statue in Vienna’s Heiligenstadt Park; more details below.

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven spent a total of 35 years in Vienna, from 1792 with his arrival from Bonn until his death in 1827. Every summer, he would leave Vienna to stay in a country- or farm-house in Heiligenstadt which at the time was rural; a stagecoach trip from the inner city required several hours. Today, urban development and expansion have reached and overtaken the once verdant fields right up to the flanks of the city’s northern heights.

By 1802, Beethoven’s hearing loss was almost complete. With his doctor’s recommendation, Beethoven had hoped time away from the noisy city would help recover some of his healing, but after the summer had passed, his initial fears had come true: his hearing would not return. In desperation, Beethoven wrote to his brother a letter, known as the “Heiligenstadt Testament“. He never sent the letter to his brother; the letter would only be discovered 25 years later with Beethoven’s personal effects, shortly after his death in 1827.

I’m tracing out some of Beethoven’s footsteps in Heiligenstadt wrapped inside the present-day city’s 19th district of Döbling. All locations can be visited comfortably on foot in a single day. The following description is part of a larger overview of my search for Beethoven in the Austrian capital city.


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My Vienna: Art Nouveau highlights in the capital

Above/featured: A captive audience surrounds the Gustav Klimt painting “The Kiss” in Vienna’s Upper Belvedere. Photo, 19 May 2018 (X70).

If you’re paying attention, traces of the turn-of-the-century Viennese Art Nouveau (Wiener Jugendstil) art and design movement are visible throughout the Austrian capital city.

A painting.
A sculpture.
A building.
A clock.
A church.
A building mural.
A staircase, with railings and light fixtures.
The front facade of an apartment block.
The entrance pavilion to the municipal railway.
A decorative structure marking the exit/end of a river’s diverted route underneath the city.

I provide ten visual examples below, all of which are accessible with public transport.


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My Vienna: Shoah Wall of Names Memorial

Above/featured: Shoah Namensmauern Gedenkstätte (Holocaust Wall of Names memorial site).

I drag my fingers gently down each stone block, across the fine indentations and the print of countless names.
I give quiet voice to names of people I see.

In Vienna’s 9th district is a small green space, Ostarrichi Park, in front of the Österreichische Nationalbank (Austrian National Bank). The park is home to the Shoah Namensmauern Gedenkstätte (Holocaust Wall of Names Memorial), dedicated to over 64-thousand Austrian Jews murdered during the Nazi regime. Public inauguration of the memorial occurred on 9 November 2021 on the 83rd anniversary of the Pogromnacht. The establishment and realization of the memorial has been a lifelong project for Vienna-born Kurt Yakov Tutter, who with his family fled to Belgium in 1930. He made a new home in Toronto, Canada, where in 2000 he began working to create a memorial to murdered Austrian Jews. The historical significance of the memorial means the City of Vienna and the Austria National Fund are jointly responsible for maintenance of the memorial.

The names of over 64-thousand children, women, and men are engraved onto 160 slabs of granite; the slabs are arranged in an oval ring. Within the open and uncovered space, visitors to the memorial can walk briskly past each vertical block, but the air is thick with names.

Selma ABZUG, geboren/born 1886
Ernst ADLER, geb./b. 1904
David ALBRECHT, geb./b. 1871
Grete ALTMANN, geb./b. 1928
.
.
.

Therese WEISZ, geb./b. 1867
Eva WELLISCH, geb./b. 1933
Alfred WERTHEIM, geb./b. 1920
Edmund WESTFRIED, geb./b. 1890

… We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experience, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It happened; therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.

— Primo Levi: Italian chemist, Holocaust survivor, and author.

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My Vienna: Aspang Station Deportation Memorial

“Well into the 1970s, the area around present-day Leon Zelman Park was the site of the Aspang Railway Station, which was built in 1880–1881 as a terminal for the regional Vienna-Aspang-Pitten rail line. Despite its relatively central location in the city’s 3rd district, the station served only regional rail traffic and was not very busy. These were likely reasons why after the “Anschluss” the Nazis chose this station for deportation transports.

Two transport trains departed in October 1939 with 1584 Jewish men deported to Nisko in the Lublin District of the General Governorate of occupied Poland as a failed attempt to create the Lublin reservation for expelled European Jews. Much larger deportations resumed from February 1941 to October 1942. 45451 Austrian-Jewish men and women were deported on a total of 45 transport trains to ghettos and extermination sites in (what are now) Czechia, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, and Latvia.

In Vienna, the cynically-named Nazi ‘Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung’ (Central Agency for Jewish Emigration) organized deportation efforts including forced captivity and assembly or collection points. Four internment stations were established in the city’s 2nd district where prisoners were abused and stripped of their possessions. For every transport, about one thousand people were driven to Aspang Station in uncovered trucks, in plain and open sight of the city’s population.

Of the 47035 Jewish men and women deported from Aspang Railway Station, only 1073 (2%) survived, according to the research by Austrian historian Jonny Moser, himself a survivor of the Holocaust/Shoah. In total, more than 65-thousand Austrian Jews fell victim; most of them began their road to their deaths at Aspang Station.”

•   Paraphrased from Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Wien (Art in public spaces Vienna).

After the war and Allied-occupation period, little was done to improve the station and its tracks. The station was closed in 1971 and the station building was demolished by 1977. The turn of the millennium provided momentum to both city and the national rail company for redevelopment of the area, including apartment blocks, green space, and a memorial. Today, the former railway station is Leon Zelman Park, named after Dr. Leon Zelman who established in 1980 the Jewish Welcome Service Vienna and led the organization until his passing in 2007. The inauguration of the deportation memorial occurred on 7 September 2017 with full opening to the public on the following day.


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22 for 22: Foto(ein)s for 2022

Above/featured: Vienna skyline from Kleinwasserkraftwerk Wehr I in early morning light. Photo, 7 Jun 2022.

For 2022, the act of looking forward and backward is dominated by a 4-week stay in the city of Vienna. In between the collected images is a reclaimed longing for the Austrian capital to which I was first introduced 20 years ago, but for which there was no camera and, sadly, no recorded pixels.

I’ve already described a set of images setting the urban scenes in Vienna from 2022. Below is an additional set of 22 images selected from a period of 35 days; the time interval represents only 10% of the year, but it appears to be a personally important “watershed moment” as well.


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My Vienna: 22 urban frames for 2022

Above/featured: “The first Sunday.” Karlsplatz, 1st district – 15 May 2022.

Earlier in the year, I spent four weeks in Vienna, soaking in late-spring and early-summer weather in Austria’s capital city. I highlighted 3 images and scenes which in addition to time spent left personal impressions. Below, I highlight in a “last chance effort” an additional 22 visual examples of the urbanity in Wien, folding in splashes of colour, lines of focus, and accessibility to good timing.

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My Vienna: Imperial Court Pavilion Hietzing (O. Wagner)

Above/featured: Facing east, a U4 train departs Hietzing station to terminus Heiligenstadt.

Along Vienna’s U4 metro line, a dark-domed white cube-like structure seems to float over the tracks between Schönbrunn and Hietzing stations. Most may not realize the building’s relevance to the history of the city’s first railway, the city’s rapid urban evolution into the 20th-century, and the railway architect’s eventual “break away” transition from historicism to modernism.

Vienna was going to look very different after 1890. The city undertook its second and greatest expansion, absorbing 6 outer districts and ballooning the total population to almost 1.4 million (almost doubled in 10 years). The city’s administration recognized the challenge of efficiently transporting people between its new outer suburbs and the inner city. In 1894, Vienna appointed architect Otto Wagner with the complete design and construction of the new Wiener Stadtbahn metropolitan railway. The railway saw the creation of four new lines: the Danube canal line (Donaukanallinie), the “Belt” line (Gürtellinie), the suburb line (Vorortlinie), and the Vienna river valley line (Wientallinie). Today, the city’s U-Bahn U4 and U6 lines and the S-Bahn S45 line operate electrified over much of the original routing.

The Vienna valley line brought track and construction in front of Schönbrunn, the imperial summer palace for the ruling Habsburgs. The rail line’s new Schönbrunn station was located at the northeast corner of the palace grounds. But at the grounds’ northwest corner, Wagner created two stations: one for the public, and one for the Habsburgs. Built for the inauguration of the city railway on 1 June 1898, the imperial pavilion was set aside for the emperor, family, and staff. Emperor Franz Josef I only used the pavilion twice, as he was reluctant (hostile) to accept rapid changes brought by modernity.

Wagner created a domed-building whose interior was furnished with floral and vegetal elements in the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) style, a painting with a bird’s eye view of the city over Schönbrunn, a private suite for the emperor; and whose exterior included the uniform green and white colours seen throughout the entire rail network, glass and wrought-iron elements, and a separate portal providing a covered entrance for the imperials. Out of the many station buildings Wagner designed for the entire system, the imperial pavilion at Hietzing is most associated with the “historical” architectural style. The building is now a part of the city’s Wien Museum after successful post-war efforts to save and restore the structure.

The informal name is the “Hofpavillon Hietzing” (Imperial Court Pavilion Hietzing), but the building’s formal name is “Pavillon des kaiserlichen und königlichen Allerhöchsten Hofes” (Pavilion of the Imperial and Royal Highest Court). In the images below are divided sections: “exterior”, “interior”, and “sketches”.

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Leopoldsberg, 19. Bezirk, Döbling, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: 1 capital city, 4 Danubes


Above/featured: Southeast view from Leopoldsberg in the city’s 19th district. Visible are the waters of the Old Danube, New Danube, Danube, and the Danube Canal. Photo, 1 Jun 2022.

Vienna loves the Danube so much that the city now has four water features with the label “Donau”.

  • Alte Donau (Old Danube)
  • Donau (Danube)
  • Donaukanal (Danube Canal)
  • Neue Donau (New Danube)

All of it is thanks to the regulation of the Danube river after the city of Vienna and the surrounding region had to put up with frequent flooding. Vienna embarked on works of flood-control engineering in two major periods of construction: 1870 to 1875, and 1972 to 1988.

Once a former arm of the river, the Old Danube is now a closed body of water, a crescent-shaped lake that’s been cutoff by the “linearization” of the Danube. A former natural arm of the river, the Danube Canal was regulated for the first time around 1600. Most visitors will encounter the Danube Canal which is best integrated with the city with the appearance of multiple road and rail crossings and the canal’s reach with 7 of the 23 city’s districts. The Danube river proper was completely regulated and straightened during the second engineering period, which also saw construction of the New Danube as a secondary flood channel in parallel with the primary river.


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Mayer am Pfarrplatz, 19. Bezirk, Döbling, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich, fotoeins.com

My Vienna: 20 food spots from A to V

Bäckerei, Beisl, Café, Heuriger, Imbiss, Kneipe, Lokal, Restaurant.

Whatever your choice or preference, there’s no shortage of places for a sip and nosh in the city of Vienna. Over a period of 30 days, an extended stay in the Austrian capital city provides plenty of opportunities to try something new, though truth told, I also prepared a lot of food in the apartment …

I describe below 20 food visits in Vienna, for all the tasty bits including Döner, falafel, finger sandwiches, horsemeat, ice cream, pastries, raspberry torte, roast pork, Shakshuka for breakfast, Viennese veal schnitzel, and shwarma Syrian-style.


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My Vienna: Habsburg favourite Tafelspitz, at Plachutta Hietzing

What appears to be a plate of slow simmered beef is anything but “simple”.

Tafelspitz is a dish with a lot going on,” said Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner to the New York Times in 2002. “It’s hot, cold, spicy, creamy, crunchy and soft.”

Eaten daily by Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830-1916), the dish is well-known among Vienna favourites. Among members of the Jewish community of the time, the Tafelspitz was a beloved symbol of assimilation in late 19th-century/early 20th-century Vienna.

Reading about the description for Tafelspitz brings about a sharp childhood memory of a soup made by Mum. Tender chunks of chuck roast, accompanied by carrots, potatoes, celery, shards of ginger root, and often with apple to provide extra sweet; cooked slow and simmering in a huge pot on the stovetop for hours. The resulting soup was a meal on its own, or served as a final course at dinner.

Plachutta is well-known among the Viennese for making some of the best Tafelspitz in the city. A big Plachutta is located centrally in the inner city, but I head west to the city’s 13th district for their original Stammhaus location in Hietzing. It’s fitting somehow that the Hietzing location is close to the Habsburg summer palace at Schönbrunn.

The images show a wonderful spread with the Tafelspitz dish with my choice of the Tafelspitz or rump steak cut. I started with the long slow simmered soup broth, ladled out into a bowl with big chunks of egg frittata. And provided within a bowl of soup are the specific details of family: nourishing, caring, satisfying.

After a section of slow-cooked bone is presented, I spread the soft gelatinous marrow onto slices of toasted dark bread, topped with salt and pepper. Next, slices of moist tender slow-cooked beef are laid onto a plate, along with crunchy fried potatoes, creamed spinach, apple-horseradish sauce, and chive sauce.

Certainly, I paid a little more for the meal, but the Plachutta Tafelspitz was a great dining experience, providing a new memory of Viennese cuisine, combined with a family memory of Cantonese-style home-cooked food.


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