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In Praise of Concrete

In Praise of Concrete

Vienna is a sacred city and rightly proud of its churches. From soaring Gothic to gilded Baroque, the place boasts myriad well-documented masterpieces. Concealed in its suburbs, however, lurk other gems that reach to the heavens in spires of concrete. A first in concrete Austria’s first concrete church was unveiled in 1913 in Ottakring. The […]

A Ballroom Reborn

A Ballroom Reborn

On 16 August, 2001 a fire broke out on Marxergasse in Vienna’s 3rd District. Allegedly caused by a careless workman, the flames raged for eight hours. Only when the smoke cleared could the damage be assessed: The legendary Sofiensäle, once Vienna’s most beloved ballroom, was a smouldering ruin.   Bath to ballroom The story of […]

Land of the Wild Geese: Visiting Schwarzenberg Park

Land of the Wild Geese: Visiting Schwarzenberg Park

Tram 43 cuts like a knife across the 17th District of Hernals, from the Gürtel out to the edge of the city. Although the journey holds little of real interest (except for the Art Nouveau Jörgerbad and the Kalvarienberg pilgrimage church) the terminus at Neuwaldegg conceals something very special.   Two towering obelisks Just beyond […]

Pedestrians Beware!

Pedestrians Beware!

Everyone interested in Vienna should stroll along Fleischmarkt and Griechengasse; rarely is so much history concentrated into just 400 metres. From the Babenbergs to Billy Wilder this short walk takes a long view into the city’s colourful past.   Kornhäusel and coffee Fleischmarkt is an ancient street first documented in 1220. The name recalls the […]

Close to Paradise: Seemingly Secret Gardens

Close to Paradise: Seemingly Secret Gardens

It’s hardly surprising that Vienna’s long hot summers and rich, porous soils have resulted in a city full of parks and gardens. Most genres are represented, from English and French to Alpine and desert. The closest to paradise, however, are its Japanese and East Asian gardens.     A timeless space The district of Döbling […]

Skyscrapers in the Altstadt

Skyscrapers in the Altstadt

In 2001, UNESCO decreed that the Stephansdom was to remain the tallest structure in Vienna’s First District. But that’s not to say the newly-declared World Heritage Site hadn’t already brushed with skyscraper technology. Two fine 20th century Wolkenkratzer rise above the city’s ancient rooftops.   Urban ziggurat At Herrengasse 6-8, it’s easy to miss a […]

Cathedral Curiosities History Lines St. Stephen’s

Visitors seem well-versed in the lore of the Stephansdom. They know roughly where and what it is: a 900-year-old cathedral in the city centre dedicated to the first Christian martyr. But all too many make a beeline for the interior. In so doing they miss some of the building’s more curious features.   A pagan […]

Good Living in Gasometer

Good Living in Gasometer

In 1962, in the district of Hietzing, Vienna’s last gas street lamp was extinguished. It’s still there today outside the local museum, a small testimony to the great network of gas pipes laid across the city in the late 19th century. The gas that lit it came from the Simmering Gas Works, which in 2001 […]

Monstrous Monuments: Vienna’s Giant Anti-Aircraft Towers

Monstrous Monuments: Vienna’s Giant Anti-Aircraft Towers

On 9 April 1938, Adolf Hitler stood before an audience of 5,000 in the vast hall of the Nordwestbahn train station. He spoke of their city, just absorbed into the Third Reich, as a pearl in need of a worthy setting. Few could have known that setting would be a noose of concrete anti-aircraft towers […]

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