3.3 million at last count. All these souls are interred at Vienna’s Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof), a vast park-like space on the outskirts of the city.
Visiting the cemetery had been on my bucket list for a long time. Yesterday’s warm sunshine finally motivated me to hop on the number 71 tram and go out there. This tram goes directly to the cemetery gates, which is why the Viennese say “take the 71″ as a euphemism for death. It seemed like a pretty ordinary tram to me, though :)
The Central Cemetery was opened in 1874, after it became clear that there was no more space for burials inside the city limits. The rather progressive and controversial (at the time) decision was made to allow burials of all faiths. But, this being Austria, order was paramount. All God’s children are neatly divided into sections, separated by walkways and marked with cast-iron signposts. Recently, sections have been added for Muslims, Buddhists, and Mormons.
The Jewish section is especially interesting. It was heavily vandalized during Kristallnacht and inadvertently bombed during WWII. Because Vienna’s Jewish population was nearly eliminated by the Nazis, there are few local descendants left to take care of the graves. So, unlike other sections of the cemetery which are mostly well-manicured, it is quite overgrown and a bit spooky.
More information in the captions. I don’t think I even saw half of the cemetery, and the church was closed for the day. So, I intend to return on a day when it is open, explore some more sections and find some famous graves.
I walk around the city for exercise almost every day. Now that it’s gotten warm enough to go without gloves, I have been taking my camera. I shot this batch of photos over the last couple of days.
I think this could be an excellent way to get ready to say goodbye to Vienna. While I enjoy living here, I have never been as nuts about the place as some people are. Three years will be just about right for this southern girl who has no interest in cold weather, Wiener schnitzel, opera, where Mozart slept, or dealing with cranky, uptight people.
This week’s excursion included an old lady coming out of her crazy-expensive hat shop to yell at me to stop taking photos. She almost knocked my camera out of my hand. I gave her my sunniest smile and told her to “have a nice day.” A technique learned in the Czech Republic, this drives Austrians equally insane. Which is why I do it, of course. (I doubt they’d understand “bless your heart.”)
When I have a camera with me, I look at Vienna in an entirely different way. Though I do not like everything I see–the displays of conspicuous consumption in the downtown shops are getting especially old–there is a lot that is beautiful or interesting here.
For the next few months, I’m going to try and remember to look at Vienna through a lens whenever I can.
Originally posted on TriVienna:
From the Parkplatz, there is a well-kept walking trail that follows the path of a creek through the “klamm,” or gorge. It is listed as a family-friendly path, and it is, but I would not try to bring a stroller on it. Also, there are some places where the trail is narrow with a good drop on one side, where I would personally keep a good grip on a toddler or preschooler.
We did not follow the main park trail all the way. Instead we used this map from a hiking website which took us on a longer circuit with a more varied terrain…
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For my community website.
Originally posted on TriVienna:
On this cold, gray, drizzly winter day, I visited the Westlicht “Showplace for Photography” in Josefstadt. What a cool little museum!
The exhibits, all of which are labeled in English as well as German, are about 1/3 devoted to the history of photography. There are several cases with interesting old cameras, and a few newer ones designed to be used in space, for example. I liked the spy cameras best.
The rest of the museum consists of actual photographs. The current exhibition features very old photos from the National Geographic collection. Some just seem bizarre to us now, but others rise to the level of art.
Finally, there are two slide shows…
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Originally posted on TriVienna:
I am proud to say that on the very last day that my annual Kunsthistorisches Museum pass was valid, I finally made it to the Theater Museum.
Located in a beautiful Lobkowitz Palace close to the Albertina, the Theater Museum is a small exhibition space with two or three collections on view at any given time.
At the moment, the main exhibit is about puppets, specifically Javanese -style rod puppets designed by an Austrian named Richard Teschner. I am not really into puppets, but these are very beautifully crafted ones.
Unfortunately–and somewhat inexplicably–there is exactly zero information in English in the museum. So, my understanding of what I was seeing was limited to what I could figure out from the German placards. It seems that Teschner was sort…
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Sounds like a great HBO miniseries! Spoiler alert: the street cleaners win.
Last night Vienna endured what has become an annual tradition. The Austrian Freedom Party, also known as neo-Nazis, hosted their “Akademiker Ball” at the Hofburg Palace in central Vienna. It blows my mind what kind of obnoxious people would want to attend such an event, but they do, every year.
And, every year, protesters besiege the Hofburg. Everyone from the Green Party to Austrian student groups to those roaming bands of European professional anarchists who seem to make a career out of protesting events like this.
If I were Austrian, I’d be really embarrassed if no one protested this event. Someone certainly should. We are talking Nazis, after all. But it does get a bit out of hand. And Austrians really don’t like that.
I live right downtown, so I saw a lot of the preparations for the protests, and the aftermath. Austrian cops are Bad Ass. They are big, well-protected, well-armed, and they have some pretty fancy riot control gear, too. We saw portable water cannons and tank-like riot vehicles headed downtown earlier in the week.
About half of what is called the “Innere Stadt” was blocked off by later afternoon yesterday, and about 2,000 cops were deployed. Even journalists were not supposed to enter the cordoned-off area, for their own “protection.” I am sure this had nothing to do with the pepper spray and batons the cops were carrying. Nope.
The police announced that it would be illegal for anyone to wear, or even carry, a hat, scarf, hoodie, or anything else that could be used to cover the face in the cordoned-off area from yesterday afternoon until today. (I inadvertently violated that ordinance myself–but give me a break, it was like 25 degrees out there.) Of course, thousands of young Austrians promptly posted photos of themselves with crazy headgear on Facebook, Tumblr and other forums. God bless the young’uns.
In the end, according to a local news website, about one million Euro in property damage occurred, mostly to shops and cars parked on the street. Only 15 people were arrested, which seems odd to me, but my German is not very good, so I may not have grasped every detail of the local reporting.
The truly amazing thing is that by about 10 AM this morning, when I went out for my daily walk, there was almost no sign that anything had happened! Barricades were tidily stacked out of the way, streets were swept clean, damaged cars had been driven or towed away, and shop windows were either already repaired or in the process thereof. I mean, these people get it done.
So, Vienna street cleaners for the win, once again.
Just posted to our community website.
Originally posted on TriVienna:
While the Sunday in question wasn’t technically gray, it was chilly and windy. A good day to cross another item off of our Bucket List!
Since we had annual passes to the Kunsthistoriches museums that were expiring soon, we decided it was a good day to finally check out the Imperial Carriage Museum at Schloss Schönnbrunn. We are not really that into carriages. But with the KHM annual pass, admission is free. If you are new to Vienna, and want to check out a bunch of museums at a reasonable price, this pass is a great deal. Details here.
But first, a stop for lunch at the Residenz Café. This restaurant (owned by Café Landtmann), though a bit touristy due to its location at the palace, manages to remain a nice stop for lunch or a yummy dessert.
Stoked with truffeltorte and coffee…
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I love Bavaria. It’s hokey as heck, but wears the hoke proudly. Take Bavarian restaurants, for example. They all follow a certain recipe.
First you need you some beer. Well, actually, a lot of beer. Good beer.
Then, some very hearty dishes featuring venison, wild boar, pork in all its forms, cabbage, and many, many, potatoes. Life is short, you know? Have another sausage.
Once you’ve got the food lined up, time to decorate! Rule number one: you can never have too much taxidermy. Never.
We’ve got a bucket list started on the fridge of stuff we want to do before leaving Vienna. One of the items was visiting the Roman ruins at Carnuntum, about half an hour from the city. So, yesterday we finally did.
As a tourist site, Carnuntum is awesome. It’s the first place I have been where Roman buildings have been completely reconstructed, giving a feel for how people actually lived back then. The rich ones were pretty comfortable! And they had impressive infrastructure. Everything from the heating system to the toilets has been recreated and explained (in German, Slovak, and English). The under-floor heating systems (hypocausts) and hot water heater were even working in the public baths. They were nice and cozy on a cold, windy day.
Carnuntum was a major settlement on the fringe of the Roman Empire. At its peak, the population was around 50,000 people. I’m going to be lazy now, and copy from Wikipedia:
Carnuntum originated as a Roman army camp. Its name is nearly always found with “K” on monuments, and is derived from Celtic karn- (“cairn”). Its name first occurs in history during the reign of Augustus (6 AD), when Tiberius made it his base of operations in the campaigns against Maroboduus (Marbod). Significant Romanization occurred when the town was selected as the garrison of the Legio XV Apollinaris. A few years later it became the centre of the Roman fortifications along the Danube from Vindobona (now Vienna) to Brigetio (Ó-Szőny). Under Trajan or Hadrian, Carnuntum became the permanent quarters of Legio XIV Gemina and the capital of Upper Pannonia.
Even in Roman times it had a history as a major trading center for amber, brought from the north to traders who sold it in Italy; the main arm of the Amber Road crossed the Danube at Carnuntum. It was made a municipium by Hadrian (Aelium Carnuntum). Marcus Aurelius resided there for three years (172-175) during the war against the Marcomanni, and wrote part of his Meditations there. Septimius Severus, at the time governor of Pannonia, was proclaimed emperor there by his soldiers (193), to replace Emperor Pertinax, who had been murdered. In 308 the Emperor emeritus Diocletian chaired a historic meeting with his co-emperors Maximian and Galerius in Carnuntum to solve the rising tensions within the tetrarchy. It brought about freedom of religion for the Roman Empire. In the 4th century, it was destroyed by Germanic invaders. Although partly restored by Valentinian I, it never regained its former importance, and Vindobona became the chief military centre. During the Barbarian Invasions Carnuntum was eventually abandoned and used as a cemetery and source of building material for building projects elsewhere. Eventually, its remains were covered by decaying plant material. In fact the walking level is now 1.5 metres higher.
The area of the former Carnuntum spreads over several acres, underneath and around the village of Petronell-Carnuntum, near the Slovak border. It is interesting to consider what else might be buried under those ordinary little Austrian homes.