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Insider's View: Austrian scenograph Rudolf Bekic« BACK « TO BEGINNING


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Insider's view · Europe · austria · Vienna

Insider's View: Austrian scenograph Rudolf Bekic


Insider's View: Austrian scenograph Rudolf Bekic

It's an easy to find your way around Vienna due to its logical layout of streets. No specific puzzle-solving abilities required! If you have to cover larger distances, Vienna tram is the most convenient mode of transportation, yet walking still remains the best way to savor the taste and energy of each part of the city. Every Vienna district (Bezirk) has a number and a name, alluding to some particular chapter in a history text book. Every district has its distinctive architectural style and its own legends, and heroes of them are mostly famous and not-so-famous Viennese artists, writers and musicians. Some spots of the city may seem charming to you, some - dull, some other - not so appealing at all.

It's worthwhile taking a tram around the ring boulevard (Ringstrasse) to gain an all-embracing picture of the diverse Vienna architecture. Ringstrasse marks the perimeter of the Innere Stadt district of Vienna and was built along the lines of the former city fortification walls. It takes 45 minutes for the legendary tram number 1 to cover its circular route while giving a glimpse of the Vienna Opera House, Hofburg palace, the Parliament building, theatres, museums and Mölker Bastei - a remaining bit of the old city fortifications.
In order to explore the style of the celebrated Austrian Art Nouveau architect Otto Wagner, represented throughout the entire city, go along Gürtel Strasse, running outside and parallel to Ringstrasse (Metro U6). Be sure not to miss Anker Haus am Graben, Villa Wagner, Postsparkassenamt, Majolikahaus am Naschmarkt, Kirche am Steinhof and other famous architectural masterpieces.

Innere Stadt: G. Veith, A bird's eye view of Vienna. Pen-and-ink drawing, around 1880(Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien)

[Bezirk1] If you start your sightseeing tour form the Inner Stadt, get a closer look at the peculiar monument of Stock-im-Eisen (Tree in Iron). It's a glass encased section of a tree-trunk on the corner of Graben and Kärntner streets, currently incorporated into the building façade. The very first nails have been hammered there back in the 15th century while the tree was still growing. Such "nail trees" are well known in many European cities yet there is no real clarity why travelling blacksmiths have left such signs in tree trunks.

The inner-city of Vienna has numerous museums and each one has its own story to tell. All of them are well worth visiting, yet only the Vienna Clock Museum (Uhrenmuseum, Schulhof 2) will tell you how splendidly they can keep track of time in Vienna.
The very essence of contemporary aromas is captured at Duft und Kultur (Tuchlauben 17) - an exclusive perfume store. Aside from lifestyle items and accessories, it offers hard-to-find perfumes from international brands, like Annick Goutal, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Serge Lutens, Caron, Parfums Coudray, Diptyque and Comptoir Sud Pacifique.

The 1st district boasts to house also the first official menswear brand, Knize (Graben 13). Habsburg Monarchy tailor Josef Knize once established a small men's clothing shop here, which later was turned into a recognized brand by the Chanel's designer Ernst Dryden. The design author of the store itself is the famous Viennese architect Adolf Loos.

Being a denier of the decorative Art Nouveau style, Adolf Loos used to demonstratively snub its features in the face of the city, at the same time bringing in expressions of his own modernist taste. Loos has designed many well-known buildings in Vienna, yet Goldman&Salatsch building or the Loos Haus (Michaelerplatz 3) has to be regarded as the very essence of the architect's creative work.

While visiting Inner Stadt, take a look also at the magnificent baroque style Jesuitenkirche church (Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz 1) by architect Andrea Pozzo.

Now you can take a moment of rest, popping into the colorful Kix Bar (Bäckerstrasse 4), featuring a peculiar skewing perspective, designed by the Austrian architect Oskar Putz. Or else opt for Kleines Cafe (Franziskanerplatz 3) - much loved by students and artists and, as its name suggests, very compact in size. Likewise another popular spot, Gasthaus Pöschl eatery, it's owned by the Austrian actor, Hanno Pöschl.

Located in the old city next to the 12th century monastery Schottenkloster built by Irish monks, there is a small place with rich history - a candy shop Zuckerlgeschäft. It's not the only famous store, however. Kräuterhaus, the herb and tea house at Freyung 7 is sited at the same address since 1795. The first small shop of the now famous company was once opened exactly on this very street corner. Theehandlung Schönbichler (Wollzeile 4) is yet another good place to purchase fine quality tee.

You can immerse yourself in sounds of jazz at musical club Porgy&Bess (Riemergasse 11) and then continue your way to Cafe Bendl (Landesgerichtsstraße 6) - one of the few places in Vienna where one can get some food also at night. Its walls, tinted yellow by cigarette smoke, offer a perfect refuge for creative folks of the city.

Wiener Prater.

[Bezirk 2] The Wiener Prater Park is a huge park in Vienna Leopoldstadt district. The famous Emperor Maximilian II of Habsburg used it as a hunting field for aristocrats from 1560, but the Enlightenment monarch Joseph II declared this green area of the city as a public recreation park in 1766 (yet hunting continued until the beginning of the 20th century there). Today, Prater is a place where people love to spend time in fresh air with their friends and families - spread their picnic tables, play Frisbee and football, and allow their dogs to run free. A narrow gauge railway Liliputbahn still operates in the Wiener Prater today and in the Prater Amusement Park you can still find old-fashioned wooden roundabouts side by side with modern-day roller-coasters. The Prater Museum (Oswald -Thomas Platz 1) gives a deeper insight into the history of the Vienna's famous amusement park that reached the peak of its splendor during the Vienna World's Fair in 1873 but was destroyed during the World War II.

The Hauptallee is the main artery of the park. Just choose the most appealing means of transportation and you can enjoy the entire length of it, up to Lusthaus, and then strengthen yourself with an aromatic cup of coffee and delicious snacks there.

Your next stop can be Krieau. Vienna has always been famous for its rich entertainment options, including horse and horse-cart racing. A vast area of Leopoldstadt district occupies Krieau racecourse, featuring ancient wooden stands (Krieau Wiener Trabrennverein,

[Bezirk 10] Yet another, much small theme park is located in the Favoriten district where mountains subtly sneak into the city. Workers of Laaer Berg brick factory in the 19th century created their own Prater there and called it Böhmische Prater. It features original, wooden theme park constructions.

If you have already reached this city area, it's worth going a little uphill and visiting Cafe Cobenzl (Cobenzl 94) - a kitschy café in the style of the 70's, boasting an amazing view of the city. Another worthwhile destination with a great view is mount Kahlenberg (Am Kahlenberg 2-3), sited on the opposite side [Bezirk 19]. It makes you truly believe that Vienna is the greenest city in the world!

[Bezirk 11] After visiting Böhmische Prater, you can turn into the direction of Reumannplatz and taste the best knedliky ever at the café Tichy (Reumannplatz 13). It's exactly here that in the 1960's Tichy family introduced to the wider public their invention - Eismarillenknöde (dumplings of vanilla ice cream filled with apricot ice cream and rolled in hazelnut crumbs).


Another attraction of Reumannplatz is Amalienbad - an Art Nouveau swimming pool. Partly inspired by traditional Roman baths, it is designed in Art Nouveau and Art Deco style, boasting gorgeous 2-level balconies that run along both sides of the swimming pool hall and a gorgeous glass ceiling. You can enjoy its stunning architecture and have a nice swim throughout the day for a very reasonable price.

[Bezirk 16-19] Turning your sight back to mountains, it's impossible not to mention Heuriger wine taverns. "Heuriger" means this year's and these taverns serve only young, homemade wines, and usually only in the autumn. Vienna is the only capital in the world with a considerable wine production within the city. In earlier days, winemakers of the hilly areas laid tables, sold their production and guests were invited to savor wines and bring their own food. These taverns have become a great deal more commercial nowadays and food in large amounts is available on the spot, yet there are some very authentic ones, sticking to old traditions and selling original, fresh heuriger. By the way, there is a Heuriger tavern hidden in the very heart of the old city as well, two floors below the ground - Schottenkeller (Schottengasse).

[Bezirk16] Moving forward to the 16th district, named Ottakring, it's worth having a closer look at Yppenmarkt (Yppenplatz) - a market with a distinct oriental taste, its specific atmosphere, aromas and odors. Most importantly, it sells exceptionally fresh products, particularly meat. A Turkish restaurant Kent (Brunnengasse 67) is located nearby and is opened around the clock - very untypical of Vienna!
Ottakring is a district of unconventional art and culture and home to Soho in Ottakring cultural festival (

[Bezirk 8] Ottakring, in its turn, borders with the most conservative Vienna district - Josefstadt. A pharmacy Die Alte Löwen-Apotheke (Josefstädter 25) is historical landmark of the district and a great help whenever the need arises.
Café Hummel
(Josefstädterstraße 66) is a somewhat newer establishment, started in the 1930's, yet nevertheless it has been run by the same family for three generations. "Hummel" means a bumble-bee in German and, indeed, the industrious family honors the law of hospitality and embodies the typical Viennese lifestyle that cannot be imagined without cafes and restaurants. Aside from magazines and TV, Café Hummel offers more active pass-times, like cards and chess.

[Bezirk7] Located in the 7th district Cafe Nil (Siebensterngasse 39) is one of Vienna's most historical cafes. It serves wonderful Arab food and features lightness of vegan and vegetarian cuisine. While many other Vienna cafes are immersed in thick cigarette smoke, Cafe Nil has a very large non-smoking area, safeguarding comfort of tobacco opponents, while its outstanding coffee can drive deeper into addiction true coffee lovers.

The Vienna 7th district with its Spittelberg area marked the face of the 19th century city with pronounced Biedermeier features, while the 20th century came with flirty "red light" area fame. This district with its unique aura and a multitude of stories entwining it is an intriguing destination for a wide range of travelers, especially the ones who know what they are looking for. One of the addresses to be mentioned is Sing Sing (Neustiftgasse 19) - a store for second hand CD and vinyl records.

There you can also try delicious French crêpes with your favorite filling at Creperie Spittelberg (Spittelberggasse 12).

If you are wondering what's hiding underneath the streets of Vienna, there is a chance to discover that as Dritte Mann Tour ( allows visitors to have a glimpse into Vienna underground. Historically, several basement levels and a modern sewage system were built under the city, yet rather easy to access labyrinths soon caught the attention of the criminal underworld. The cult movie The Third Man (1949), directed by Carol Reed, was taken in Vienna underground and tells about a black market hustler in postwar Vienna under the pseudonym Third Man. Most part of its action takes place in Vienna underground sewer tunnels with their very well disguised entrances - cylindrical shape advertisement kiosks. Nowadays, the Dritte Mann Tour leads curious tourists into incredible underground architecture of secret tunnels and passages, using exactly the same kind of door.

[Bezirk 9] Speaking of architecture, a real treasure for Jugendstil worshipers can be found at Strudlhofgasse 8, Alsergrund district. The famous Strudlhofstiege staircase is a true feast of Jugendstil where form dominates function. It's worth leafing through the novel "Die Strudlhofstiege oder Melzer und die Tiefe der Jahre" ("The Strudlhof Steps or Melzer and the Depth of the Years") by the Austrian writer Heimito fon Doderer to get a more profound impression of this famous Vienna landmark. The most dramatic episodes of this novel are taking place on exactly these stairs.

Wotrubakirche is an attraction of the outermost, 23rd district of the city. The Wotrubakirche Church was built between 1974 and 1976 according to plans of the Austrian sculptor Fritz Wotruba. It is a combination of 152 robust, asymmetrical concrete blocks and fragile glass, all in all remotely reminding an abstract sculptural object.

[Bezirk3] Simmering in Vienna outskirts is known as a location of the Europe's biggest cemetery, Zentralfriedhof, arranged into a number of smaller cemeteries. A little known Sankt Marxer Friedhof , where burials were taking place between 1784 and 1874, became a resting place of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791. It was Vienna where Salzburg-born composer's career flourished. The same way as Mozart, also the sewing machine inventor Josef Madersperger was buried in a common grave of the poor at the St. Marx Cemetery, outside the city.
Milos Forman's drama "Amadeus" (1984) has perfectly captured the atmosphere of the 17th and 18th century - splendor of aristocratic lifestyle with opera and never-ceasing amusements next to enormous poverty and general callousness of the society of that time. Mozart's body was thrown into a mass grave, sprinkled with chlorinated lime - no coffin, no tombstone.


[Bezirk7] Vienna is rich in cinemas, yet none of them opened after 10pm. Erika-Kino (Kaiserstraße), near Museum quarter, is the oldest cinema in Vienna and still screens movies of the first decades of the cinema existence. Located somewhat off the city centre, Erika-Kino attracts mostly elderly movie-goers and nowadays has turned into sort of a social club.

[Bezirk6] Filmcasino (Margaretenstraße 78) is a Viennese art-house and a home for avant-garde animated feature films and screens the best of Asian and European independent films. Filmcasino has preserved intact architectural charm of the 1950s.

[Bezirk1] Gartenbaukino (Parkring 12), established in the 1960s, has the largest single film hall in Vienna capable of seating over 700 people. Already during its first years of its existence the cinema left a bright trace in the city's memory with its ambitious film premieres and glamorous celebrity visits. Gartenbaumkino also provides a wonderful ambiance as one of the main venues of Viennale - Vienna international film festival, strengthening therefore its position on the city's cultural scene.

[Bezirk 5] Feine Dinge, a porcelain and ceramic design studio, is characterized by contemporary minimalism and functionalism in its designs, while its greatest value is people. If you are or perhaps wish to become a true Vienna connoisseur, Feine Dinge ( is the right place to inquire for the best addresses of the city. Yes, that's right - find Krongasse 20, see the wonderful works of the studio and don't be afraid to communicate with real Viennese people there!

[Bezirk4] Being in Vienna, you can obtain an exciting culinary experience participating at culinary sessions held at kitchen club Cuka, at the same time learning something new about the city, too. Culinary club Cuka (


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