Vienna’s Central Cemetery
The day after Halloween (the end syllable sounding very much like the German pronunciation of Vienna – Wien), November, 1 and 2 in Austria are known as All Saints‘ Day and All Souls‘ Day. On both days people head to cemeteries across the country to remember their deceased family members and friends. It’s the best time of the year to capture the eerie mood of cemeteries, a time when autumn has already turned the leafy greens into bright yellows, reds and subtle browns, giving photos a magic touch.
Tom and I visited Vienna’s Central Cemetery, the biggest we’ve ever seen, and tried to capture the eeriness for you.
495 Acres for the Dead
In 1874, a time when Vienna grew into a city of more than one million inhabitants, cemeteries of the various districts became too small. The City of Vienna bought 495 acres of land and opened the Central Cemetery.
The cult of the dead for the Viennese is a slightly macabre yet gleeful manifestation, and a strategically clever move against the finiteness of life.
Like an epitome of death the Church of St. Borromeo marks the center point of a cemetery that today houses some 330,000 tombs. The church, in Art Deco style, was built by Hegele between 1908 and 1910, and serves as the cemetery church and mausoleum of Karl Lueger, the mayor of the city from 1897 to 1910.
Both to the left and to the right of this main roadway is the Grave of Honor, the largest such arrangement of special honorary tombs in the world. Among many others, Gluck, Beethoven, Schubert, Hugo Wolf, Johann Strauss Father and Johann Strauss Son, Lanner, Brahms, Arnold Schönberg and Robert Stolz.
Directly in front is the mausoleum for the Austrian presidents who have died since 1945 (Renner, Körner, Schärf, Jonas). Also the urn of singer, pianist and composer Udo Jürgens found its final resting place within a white marmoreal piano and close to jazz pianist Joe Zawinul.
A Celebration of Mourning
On our tour to the cemetery on November, 3 this year (2018), we got a good feeling of Vienna’s attraction to death and mourning. Tombs and statues, some over 100 years old and tarnished by weather and smog, have a dark aura to them, which immediately grabs ones attention. I particularly liked the bronze eagle you see up above.
I’ve never seen a creature looking up so terribly sad to – what might have been – its former owner. I nearly started to cry myself.
Travel Tip: Carriage Tours
Heard of the famous Fiaker, the horse-drawn carriage usually found in Vienna’s city center? Not yet, well then here’s a travel tip for you. From 10 am to about 7 pm daily you can rent carriage tours starting at gate 2. The tour includes numerous memorial graves of prominent Viennese personalities (Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Hans Moser, Falco, Adolf Loos and many others), and also brings visitors closer to the cemetery’s natural attractions. The short tour (30 min.) costs €50.00, the long one (60 min.) €80.00 per carriage (for 4 people). Tours are operated from the beginning of April to the end of September.
Reservations can be made from Monday to Wednesday by calling +43-(0)699-181 540 22. Information: www.vienna-carriage.com
Address: Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234 , 1110 Wien
- November to February Mo – Su, 08:00 – 17:00
- March Mo – Su, 07:00 – 18:00
- April Mo – Su, 07:00 – 19:00
- May to August Mo – Su, 07:00 – 20:00
- September Mo – Su, 07:00 – 19:00
- October to November Mo – Su, 07:00 – 18:00
- on holidays, 10:00 – 17:00
We hope you enjoyed this trip to the Central Cemetery with us. Please don’t forget to like or comment below. We’d love to hear from you.