Dinner in Naschmarkt, Vienna




How could you not be attracted by a fish display like this?

Dinner in Naschmarkt

After we visited Naschmarkt one late afternoon we decided to stay for dinner too. So we wandered around looking at restaurants and their menus and chose La Piazzetta because they seemed to have the best fresh fish selection, and Nath and Sonya really wanted fresh fish for our final dinner in Vienna. The restaurant’s fish was in a special glass refrigerated case outside for guests to see—this immediately caught our eyes.






Sonya and Nath wait for the meal



The fish arrives

serverWhat a great choice it was. We got a table outside on the narrow alley, so could watch the world parade by and feel the cooling breeze periodically. Tables had while linen tablecloths and a rose on each table. A nice touch.

We chose two whole dorade/seabass, which were large enough for us all. Our server was great—charming and friendly and when the whole cooked fish came out to our table he fileted them right there and served them. The fish came with vegetables and potatoes—a feast.



Delighted with our meal

A fitting final dinner of a most amazing and memorable trip.


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Vienna’s Naschmarkt



Naschmarkt grocery bags


Yummy poultry


Nath and Sonya set off on the flea market end of the market

A historic landmark and the best fresh food market 

**I have so many photos of the Naschmarket that it was hard to choose. So…there are a lot! Please scroll through and enjoy.

The Naschmarkt runs for 3-4 long blocks (about 1.5 km or 1 mile) from close to the Theater an der Wien to Kettenbruckengasse along the Wienzeile.




Stop for a cup of coffee or a drink while you shop


In the covered section we find the stalls with refrigerated cases


How can your mouth not water when you see these?

RNSA market has existed in this spot since the 16th century, when mainly milk bottles were sold. At that time milk bottles were made out of ash (wood from an ash tree), so “Asch” (German for “ash”) led to the name “Aschenmarkt“. From 1793 onwards, all fruits and vegetables brought to Vienna with carts had to be sold there, while goods arriving on the Danube were sold elsewhere. That changed in 1898 when the city of Vienna decided to cover over the Vienna River in that part of the city. The long wide square thus created was used for the market, that soon became the biggest (and the best), the most famous and the most luxurious in Vienna. Naschen means “to taste things, or to snack”, but it’s also similar to the old “Aschenmarkt” in name.


Sauerkraut and gherkins (pickles) come in…


…big barrels



Different kinds of asparagus

We love the local markets in different countries and the Naschmarkt is wonderful. It’s bustling and cheerful and the vendors don’t worry if you stop to ogle and take photos. When Rod and I were in Vienna before and stayed in an apartment nearby we would come here to buy goodies for breakfast and lunch, and many evenings we came here for a glass of wine or a beer, or ate here. There are sit-down restaurants and cafes, and places to buy take-aways too. Sitting outside in the warm weather and watching the throngs of people passing by is also a lot of fun. But, even if you don’t plan to buy anything, it’s still really interesting to wander past the stalls, and see all the wonderful things on sale (which many thousands of visitors do).




oivesThe market features two parallel lanes much of its length, with eateries generally along one side and the produce stalls on the other. There are around 120 stalls and restaurants, offering culinary delights that range from ‘typical’ Austrian and Viennese, to Turkish, Indian, Vietnamese, and Italian. This lovely market offers almost everything: from fresh fruits and vegetables, to flowers, spices, stalls of gourmet produce (often from Central Europe), baked goods, sausage stands, places to taste oils, juices, vinegars, or wines, to a huge variety of cafes and restaurants.




folkclothesAs you get closer to the Kettenbruckengasse Underground station (U-Bahn), there are more stalls with clothes, handbags, paintings and nick-nacks and on a Saturday this end has hosted a huge flea market since 1977.





How about a snack near this colorful wall?


Sonya and Nath approach the market from the U-Bahn station

Also at this end of the market, the street alongside the market has a line of buildings with gorgeous Art Nouveau facades. Two that stand out are the Medallionhaus and the Majolikahaus, both by Otto Wagner, built in 1899. This famous architect (1841-1918) designed buildings both in the Jugendstil and the Secession styles.




Otto Wagner’s Medallionhaus


Otto Wagner’s Majolikahaus


I think that’s a durian fruit

Market stalls close around 6-6:30 pm in the week and 5pm on Saturdays, but some restaurants are open later. Everything closed on Sundays, with some restaurants the exception.

If you are ever in Vienna, please don’t miss the Naschmarket!


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Vienna: The Secession



An interesting sculpture on the side of the Secession: It reads: Marc Anton Gruppe 1899. Von Arthur Strasser 1854-1927


Viv and Sonya on the entrance steps

Note about sculpture above: Marc Anton was a Roman general and this group was done by Austrian sculptor Arthur Strasser.

This building with its distinctive “cabbage” dome roof has an interesting history. Gustav Klimt was instrumental in organizing this new building in Vienna and Nath really likes the work of Klimt, so was very happy to visit.

Normal adult entrance price is 9 euros, but we got a senior break and Sonya got a teacher break, so that was great.

In 1897 a group of young artists headed by Gustav Klimt broke away from the Viennese Artists’ Society to form an association of their own: the Succession. They realized they needed a special building to present the art they were planning and the foundation stone was laid in April 1898. The Municipality of Vienna provided the building site on Linker Wienzeile for free. Funding for the building was largely provided by industrialist Karl Wittgenstein, and from proceeds from the group’s First Exhibition, which had been very successful.


Notice the words Ver Sacrum to the left of the steps

In November 1898 the building opened with their Second Exhibition. The architect Joseph Maria Olbrich designed the building as a “Temple of Art”. His plans show the influence of Otto Wagner, his mentor and teacher, but also of sketches made by Gustav Klimt. The building resembles a pavilion and is divided into two parts: the ceremonial entrance hall is crowned by a gilded dome; the exhibition halls are purely functional, with sober glass and steel construction.

Ver sacrum or “sacred spring” on the front


Above the front entrance


façade refers to the movement’s concept of a return to the arts, or a flowering of the arts. When the Secession first opened there were many who criticized the modern architecture, but today it’s regarded as one of the best examples of the Viennese art nouveau style (Jugendstil) and the golden dome is a famous landmark. It’s well known as a building whose architecture marks the turning point from historicism to modernism.

We breezed through the other exhibitions on at the time and found them rather strange and hard to understand. I guess the truth is that we’re not really big into modern/contemporary art. They offer 10-15 special exhibitions each year.


Pamphlet about the Beethoven Frieze stuck into my notebook



coupleOur main objective was the Beethoven Frieze, which we all loved, and spent quite a while sitting and contemplating (in nice cool a/c, as it was really hot outside). Klimt created his Beethoven Frieze for a group show dedicated to Beethoven in 1902. After the exhibition the frieze was purchased privately, but was bought by the Austrian state in 1973 and installed in a specially designed room in the basement of the Secession in 1986.

It’s an amazing piece of art, large and designed now as part of the building. It’s very symbolic and we understood much better after reading the explanations in the pamphlet, so then we could really begin to understand the paintings. womanThe mural takes its theme from Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, depicting humankind’s search for happiness. To symbolize this yearning Klimt chose floating genii, who lead the viewer into the story and recur several time. Various figures, often naked, portray the suffering of humanity, a strongman who sets off looking for happiness, and the dangers along the way. Happiness finds fulfillment in poetry, portrayed as a female figure with a lyre, and the arts, portrayed by a kissing couple in front of a Choir of Angels, referring to Beethoven’s final chorus in the Ninth. Its eroticism and graphic depictions inspired both admiration and criticism.

The only negative comment from Nath was that she wished it were mounted a bit lower so it could be seen a bit more easily. Klimt uses colors so well here, done in his typical style.


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Cafe Restaurant Palmenhaus





insideSold shirt

Sonya wearing the pre-beer#50 T-shirt

Café Restaurant Palmenhaus

Rod and I have been here a couple of times before, alone, or with friends who were living in Vienna. We really liked the atmosphere and food, so decided to bring Nath and Sonya here after our tour of the Hofburg Apartments. It was also a great setting for Sonya to reach her goal of trying 50 different beers on this trip! In honor of this special milestone we’d bought a special T-shirt, which she put on once beer #50 was on our table!


Sonya with beer #50 and special T-shirt



House lemonade


Cool cucumber soup

We enjoyed our meal a lot and a friendly waiter gave very good service. Servings were quite large. Rod, Nath and I had the house lemonades (freshly-squeezed lemons and lots of chopped fresh mint), as it was a very hot day, while Sonya had a Zwickl beer (#50)! Nath took a salad and pork dish; Rod potato soup and pork; Sonya cool cucumber soup and pork; Viv cucumber soup and spinach strudel. Followed by 2 espressos, Earl Grey tea and chocolate-raspberry torte.




The restaurant is inside the Palm House, one of the greenhouses of the former Hofburg Palace in the Emperor’s private garden. It’s on the edge of the Burggarten and you can approach either through the garden or from the Albertina Platz side. Converted into a bar/restaurant and a separate Butterfly House, Sonya50the décor is delicate Art Nouveau ironwork and glass set in a stone structure. It was built by Friedrich Ohmann between 1901and 1907. The interior is beautiful, green and soothing, with palm trees and a giant screen above the very long bar. Or, in good weather you can choose to sit outside on the terrace overlooking the gardens.

It’s open 10am-midnight and serves mostly Mediterranean-style cuisine.


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Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments


One lovely facade of the Hofburg Palace hints at the opulence inside


bookFrom the Silver Collection we moved on to the Sisi Museum and then the Imperial Apartments (part of the same tour and ticket as the Silver Collection), all of it often known as the Residence of Empress Elizabeth (affectionately called Sisi).

After the initial entrance into the museum, no photography is permitted. So, we were happy that we bought the book, which has many photos of the rooms and furniture.

Sisi makes a nice story. She was obviously a remarkable, fascinating person, so different and independent, way more than we expected from the hype before. They are trying to explain her, redeem her here in this museum, which is the brainchild of Rolf Langenfass, a renowned set designer. The museum has many original items of clothing and other items owned by the Empress that help bring the personality of this fascinating woman vividly to life.


Sonya enters the Sisi Museum


Nath and Sonya on the stairs to the museum


Boards about Sisi’s life at the entrance

Born Christmas Eve 1837 to an aristocratic family in Bavaria, she and her siblings appeared to have had a happy childhood. She was betrothed to Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, which propelled her into the limelight, something that made her subdued and ill-at-ease. She apparently hated the court structure, protocol and rigid etiquette and tended to reject this life. Later in her life she withdrew almost entirely from public life, and traveled a lot. The aristocracy criticized her attitude but the public loved her. She was very beautiful and has gone down in history as an empress of eternal youthfulness and beauty: she spent hours each day trying to preserve her legendary beauty, so spent many hours riding, exercising and tending to her ankle-length hair.



The double-headed eagle features extensively both on facades and in interior, on furniture, fixtures, drapery etc

Franz Joseph and Elizabeth’s son, Rudolf, committed suicide in 1889 and she wore mourning for the rest of her life. In September 1898, while traveling in Geneva, she was assassinated. Her body was taken to Vienna and she is buried in the Imperial Crypt. During her life, Sisi was already surrounded by an aura of myth, but her violent death made her into an undying legend.

After the assassination, the monarchy’s newspapers commiserated with the Emperor, who was dealt another severe blow after the suicide of his son. People soon realized that the subject of the lonely Emperor and the beautiful, unhappy, assassinated Empress could be used for monarchist propaganda. Commemorative images, coins, postcards etc were soon made, and in countries where she’d traveled statues were erected. Empress Elizabeth still exerted a fascination even after the Austro-Hungarian monarchy collapsed; various novels were published and films made about her and her life.


Rod on stairs leading to the Franz Joseph Apartments

The Apartments are magnificent, and have a great collection and heritage. It was very crowded the day we were there but was still an amazing exhibit. For more than 6 centuries the Vienna Hofburg was the administrative center, seat of government and main residence of the Austrian rulers. Besides the royal family, about 2,500 other people lived and worked here, a fact that gives a clue to the sheer size of the palace. All members of the royal family had their own apartments, usually a huge suite.

In 1858 Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth moved into newly-renovated rooms, where they were apparently very happy, and we see these rooms in the tour.

The Franz Joseph Apartments, besides giving a glimpse into palace life, also tell some of the story of this last Emperor. It’s not a happy story in many ways, as he suffered the assassination of his brother, the suicide of his son and heir, the murder of his wife, and the assassination of his nephew Ferdinand, which sparked WW1 and heralded the end of the Habsburg monarchy.


Here he conducted most state business, met advisors and foreign leaders, hosted lavish dinners, and raised his three children.

Franz Joseph held audiences twice a week with any citizen of the Empire. Those granted an audience waited in the Audience Waiting Room, decorated with three monumental paintings. The Emperor received them (only a few minutes each person to maximize the numbers he could see) in the Audience Chamber, opulently decorated in red, white and gold.

We also saw the Conference Room, where the emperor presided over meetings of ministers. Next came the Emperor’s Study, also effectively his living room, as we worked and ate in here most days. As with the other rooms, it is very lavishly decorated with many gilt-framed paintings, crystal chandeliers, painted ceilings. By contrast, his bedroom was relatively plain. Next, the Large and Small Salons were the link to the apartments of Empress Elizabeth. After she died, he didn’t use these rooms any more.

Empress Elizabeth’s Apartments included Small and Large Antechambers, Small and horseplatzLarge Salon, dressing room, bedroom/living room, wardrobe rooms, bathroom, lavatory, a library and a gymnastics room, which no longer exists. All are beautifully and elaborately furnished and decorated—without pictures it’s actually difficult to really capture the dazzling wealth.

Next are the Alexander Apartments, named after Tsar Alexander 1 of Russia who stayed here during the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The Empress used these for dinners and receptions, and the Dining Room still has a long table set for a formal dinner in that era. We could easily imagine the gold, silver, gilt, vermeil and pottery sets from the Silver Collection being used here, and the table linens folded into intricate shapes.


Selfie as we exit the Apartments

It’s all rather mind-boggling. Take-home message is one of wealth, grandeur, beauty (some excessive maybe?). But, it does feel very real, compared to things from the Middle Ages or older, as much of what we saw is fairly recent—the Hofburg was used by the monarchy until 1918. We can also imagine the Emperor and Empress here, as there are actual photos of them and their lives, plus we heard a small audio clip of his voice.


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Vienna’s Hofburg Palace Apartments



The platz (square) where you enter the apartments


Entrance is through the arch in the gorgeous domed entrance way

Vienna’s Hofburg Palace Apartments

This includes the Imperial Silver and Porcelain Collection, a small museum on Empress Sisi, and the luxurious Imperial Apartments.

All very well done and fascinating.

Please note that this post has many photographs, so please scroll through and enjoy.

Note that photographs are allowed in the Silver Collection, but not in the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments. A very good audio guide takes you through all three in a one-way loop. All together, it took us at least 3 hours. The audio guide is excellent, but we still bought the book (for 8 euros) so we can read more at home and be reminded visually by their photographs. It has fascinating extra information about the members of the Habsburgs and their lives, the court household and organization of court offices.

book copy


Breakfast set

giltporcelainIn all the years that we’ve been to Vienna before, it’s strange that Rod and I had never done this before. So, we were happy Nath suggested it and enjoyed it very much.

So many stories, so much history.

Cost was 10.50 euros per adult, and you enter from the courtyard through St Michael’s Gate, just off Michaelerplatz with grand facades on every side.

First we wandered through the Imperial Silver and Porcelain Collection. We ended up with so many photos here that I’ve decided to break this post into two: first, about he Silver Collection, and then next about Sisi and the Imperial Apartments.




Just one of the sets, perhaps owned by Emperor Maximilian of Mexico


One way to fold a napkin for bread

The Habsburg court had an enormous tableware collection, some so opulent that it’s mind-boggling—silver, gilt, vermeil, granite, porcelain, crystal. There was a special staff who took care of the Silver Room—cleaning, serving, carrying the precious dishes etc—and very strict division of duties about tableware, table linens, as well as proper serving of breads, vinegars, mustard, cheese, sweets, fruits. There were also special people who ran the Court Cellar, Court Kitchen, Court Confectionary, and Court Linen Room. A lot of protocol was involved!




Cake/dessert stands and candlesticks

tabledecorationAfter the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy (1918), the stock became the property of the Republic of Austria, the Imperial household was dissolved and some items were sold. Everything else was moved into these rooms, to form this collection.





More ways to fold napkins


One a series of flower plates

Some of the items that we noticed particularly were:

Cover for a State Visit: the napkin folded in this Imperial style was only used for visits of heads of states. Vienna Porcelain Manufactory, 1865


Porcelain Dinner Service with floral and animal decoration, from Minton UK, 1870. It was for the Imperial hunting lodge seat oat Offensee, presumed to be a gift from Empress Elizabeth (1837-1898) to Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916).



The Grand Vermeil set. Since the end of the 17th century, large homogeneous services of gold, vermeil (silver gilt), or silver were the custom at royal tables. The Grand Vermeil set here is one of the largest silver-gilt services in the world, with about 4,500 pieces weighing about 1,100 kg (2420 libs). It was originally for 40 covers (a cover is all the plates needed for one person), which were made in Paris (probably around 1808), but in 1854 some Viennese goldsmiths were commissioned to make extra pieces for 60 covers.



The amazing Vermeil Set in a beautiful room 


We felt a little overwhelmed by all the stuff in the Silver Collection, and wondered if it would be better if it were divided in some way. However, I guess it’s good that the whole collection is here in one place.


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Cafe Central: The Ultimate Splurge


Viv and Sonya wait to go into Cafe Central


Rod, Nath and Sonya peruse the menu

Indulging in a fancy pastry next to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna is a great experience.

Bit of Background on Coffee House Tradition:

The Vienna coffee house, like the English pub or the Parisian cafe, has unique characteristics that are hard to replicate in other cities—although of course many cities around the world do try!

Vienna is synonymous with café life and there is a café that can suit every mood and every taste, many very old. Coffee has played an important part in Vienna’s social life since 1683, but the origin of coffee houses in Vienna is debatable. When did the first one open? 1645 or 1683? Was this new beverage brought by the Ottoman Turks, who according to legend left behind sacks of coffee beans when chased out of town by allied forces led by the Polish cavalry in 1683? Or was coffee introduced earlier by merchants who had traveled the spice route and developed a taste for the drink they enjoyed in Constantinople?


A decadent iced coffee



One of the cases of delights in Cafe Central

In the 1600s, the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire lived an opulent lifestyle that involved multi-course feasts, including confectionaries. Naturally, the new coffee drink was added to the menu. Diplomats from all parts of the world returned to their countries and recounted stories of wonderful meals and pastries. This grand style of living has disappeared, but Vienna’s splendid coffee houses still have amazing arrays of pastries that are a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

Right from the beginning, coffee houses were places to meet where people of different socio-economic levels could discuss art, politics, and philosophy, while drinking coffee, and many writers set up shop there too.


Another case


Inside Cafe Central


Inside Cafe Central

The function of the Viennese coffee house today is much the same. They are places for reflection and dreaming, where people come to read (and write) books, read the free newspapers, meet with friends, and watch the world go by. Each has a slightly different character and clientele, a special history, a different décor. Everyone is welcome and you’ll find as many women as men, young folk as well as seniors. Some are more popular in the morning, others at night. Many also have good food as well as the confectionaries. Come for a meal, come for coffee and cake, or come just for a coffee and sit for as long as you want.

No-one is ever hurried out and people do linger. Usually, racks of newspapers line the walls, and some people bring chess sets.

With coffee, waiters bring small glasses of water, which they refill—a tradition of hospitality learned from the Ottomans.

Rod and I have a couple of favorites: Café Central, Sperl, Hawelka, Mozart, and Diglas. We’ve looked into Demel, but never sat down there, ditto with Sacher (famous for its Sacher Torte).


Sonya, Nath and Rod



For us, perhaps the most opulent and the grandest is Café Central, so we decided to take Nath and Sonya there. It used to be frequented by names like Leon Trotsky, Arthur Schnitzler and Sigmund Freud. Fewer locals come here now, and it’s a bit touristy, as it’s so close to the Hofburg and the Furstel Palace, but is still worth a visit (or two). Rod and I have had lunch there before and sat outside, which was great. But, to see the grandeur and opulent décor, lavish under Neo-Gothic columns, you need to sit inside. So, one afternoon we did just that.


Sommernuss torte



It’s really gorgeous inside, with a decorated ceiling and pillars separating sections of tables, crystal chandeliers, and huge gilt-framed portraits of Austro-Hungarian royalty. We were given a table fairly quickly and then came the big decision: what to choose from the cases of cakes and pastries, which are a feast for the eyes? We ended up with a hot chocolate, a chai latte, an iced coffee and a black iced coffee to drink, plus a Zipfer beer for Sonya (as she was still on her quest to try 50 different beers on this trip!). Rod and Sonya chose a Truffletorte, Nath had a Sommernuss torte and I had Altenbergtorte, all suitably chocolate-y and decadent and delicious!

Can’t wait to return!

Find the Café Central at:

Ecke (corner) Herrengasse/Strauchgasse

Tel: +43 (0)1 533-3764


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Places to Eat in Vienna


P8220072.JPGThe Rosenberger Mark

ROSENBERGER MARKT RESTAURANT, Maysedergasse 2, (a very short street between Kartnergasse and Albertinaplatz—the Vienna Tourist Information Office is on the corner across from the Albertina Museum).

Another of our favorites in Vienna, so we wanted to bring Nath and Sonya here too. This is a huge place on three levels: a souvenir and coffee shop on ground level as you enter off the street; the restaurant is two levels down, the food arranged in an airy central atrium with a large fake tree in the middle; seating is around the food court, and on the next level up, overlooking the food court, much of it in smaller open rooms, all decorated with pictures and/or pretty plates on the walls. Toilets are on the bottom level. In the warm weather, they also put out tables with umbrellas on the pavement outside but, as you can imagine, those tables are at a premium!



Sonya with cake and beer on our final night

The enormous selection of buffet-style food is fresh and tastefully displayed, and prices are very reasonable. Dishes range from soups, to salads, to cold meats and sandwiches, to hot cooked meat dishes, to desserts and fresh fruit. They also have a number of cakes and tortes, including the famous sacher torte (chocolate, with apricot jam), which is much cheaper here than at the legendary Sacher Café around the corner.

Over the years, this has become one of our favorites in Vienna for a number of reasons. For me, it’s very easy to eat there alone (if Rod is busy at a conference), as it’s self-serve. A couple of lunch times, I made up a great salad from their salad bar—besides regular salad ingredients, there are cooked vegetables (pickled or plain), various antipasta items, nuts and seeds to sprinkle etc. (A huge salad plate and a bread roll cost me €5.25—remember, you pay for each bread roll and butter patty; a small salad and bread roll cost me €3.65 another day). In addition, there’s a huge selection and the foods are very fresh. It’s good to put together a good fresh salad as in general Rod and I have found over the years that the meals here are rather low on salads and vegetables. Strange. Too much food is breaded and fried and we got tired of that.



Selfie of the 4 of us

They also have schnitzel, potatoes, fries, cold meats, cheeses, noodles and sauces, soups, coffee and cakes, and all kinds of drinks. The waiters who clear tables wear green outfits, and the waitresses wear dirndls—pretty Alpine-style dresses with full skirts and fitting bodice. It’s a bustling, cheerful place, very popular, even with locals who seem to come in for coffee and cake and a chat. It also seems to be used by Italian tour groups.

Rod and I have been here on a Saturday night, after an early concert, so that we could choose our own food and not have to have more fatty fried food. Also at night it’s not nearly as busy and it’s quite relaxing to do our own thing and not have to worry about tips, when to leave etc.

So, we wanted to bring Nath and Sonya here too. We came one lunch time and were very


Wine and supplies to finish the travel journal on our final night

happy again with soups, salad and nice bread. Fresh and tasty as always, but not that cheap when compared to the countries we’d just come from!

It was very close to our hotel, so on our last evening in Vienna, and for our whole wonderful trip, we popped in again after our evening meal elsewhere, for a final wine and beer, and a couple of cakes, and catching up on the travel journal. A bitter-sweet moment.

Open regular shopping hours.




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Controversial Sculptures in Albertina Platz


Albertina Platz with 2 of the sculptures

From our window seat in Tirolerhof Café we could see Albertina Platz (Albertina Square) and its sculptures. Rod and I had breezed past them on previous visits to Vienna but hadn’t examined them closely, but Nath and Sonya were very interested so we decided to take a closer look. We found them fascinating for many reasons, partly because of the history and symbolism attached to them and partly because they remind us somewhat of the work of both Michelangelo and Rodin, two sculptors we admire very much.

Albertina Platz is also known as Remembrance Square and it soon becomes clear why this is so, as it is a walk-about commemorative site. There are four pieces on display that are collectively called the “Monument Against War and Fascism”. Commissioned by the city of Vienna, Austrian sculptor Alfred Hrdlicka designed the Monument, which was dedicated in November 1988, after years of controversial debate over content and location. Some parts of them are made out of granite from the area of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp and they commemorate all those who lost their lives due to activities that occurred during the period of the National Socialism Regime and WW11.


Gates of Violence


One side of Gates of Violence


The other side of Gates of Violence

The debate about where to place this monument and whether to have it at all highlighted a recurring theme in Vienna: bury the past, or re-open old wounds? A large part of these historical-political debates are linked to Austria’s difficult situation both before and during WW11, and to the complicated role that anti-semitism has played in Austrian history.

The four separate parts of the monument are spread evenly across the cobblestoned square. Each is a reference to different facets of Austrian history under Nazi control.

The first structure is called the “Gates of Violence”, two large blocks of carved white granite on large stone bases. One block is called Hinterland Front, the other Hero’s Death. The carvings depict chained laborers, civilian victims of war and figures connected to Nazi concentration camps. Recently, two video screens were added to one side of the stone bases. These display footage of persecuted Jewish people and their heckling by bystanders. It is dedicated to all victims of wars and violence.


Detail Gates of Violence



Reflection of Viv and Rod in screen at base of Gates of Violence


Street-washing Jew

The second structure, called “Street-washing Jew” is a low bronze figure, which represents a Jewish person being forced to scrub off anti-Nazi graffiti with a toothbrush. This is based on actual history: soon after Austria was annexed into Germany local Nazi party members organized “scrubbings”, when Jews were forced to clean public streets and walls. In 2015, Austrian artist Ruth Beckermann completed the scene by adding laughing spectators.


Street-washing Jew, Orpheus in background



Orpheus Enters Hades



The next structure is “Orpheus enters Hades”, which shows a male figure emerging from a large piece of limestone. It is dedicated to all the victims of Nazi-ism in Austria but has another direct, and also symbolic meaning. In March 1945, as the Allies bombed the city, hundreds of civilians sought refuge in the basement of an Inn that was on the site of present-day Albertina Platz. The inn was hit, burying the civilians, who were not rescued. The subject of Orpheus is meant to be an ironic symbol: Orpheus descended into Hades to search for Eurydice, but the Viennese did not descend into the cellars to search for those trapped.



Stone of the Republic

Directly behind this is the final structure, a 30-foot tall tablet-like stone, called “The Stone of the Republic”. Inscribed into the stone are excerpts from the 1945 declaration establishing Austria’s Second Republic.
Alfred Hrdlicka (1928-Dec 2009) was an Austrian artist (sculptures, paintings and etchings) who always favored “dark” subjects. Human suffering and repression are the central themes in his work, with references to history, violent confrontations (such as war and revolution with all their horrific violence and cruelty), famous personalities from art and cultural history (such as Richard Wagner, Rodin, Titian, Piet Mondrian), and sexuality.




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Vienna’s Grand Cafes: Tirolerhof




Cafe Tirolerhof is in an attractive Judendstil building

outside2Tirolerhof is on the corner of Fuhrich Gasse and Tegsetthoffstr, opposite the tiny triangular park next to Albertinaplatz, just 2 blocks up from the Staatsoper. Albertinaplatz has some very interesting outdoor sculptures, which we walked past a number of times (see a later post).

As many people know, Vienna is famous for its coffee culture and cafes and has been for hundreds of years. Many have become legendary, and much sought-after by visitors. Over the years, we have been to many of the famous ones, but Rod and I had never been to this café before on our previous trips to Vienna.


We sat next to a window to watch the outside activity…


…and admire the old-world charm of the inside


Croissants, coffee and tea

Café Tirolerhof was very close to our hotel this time and we passed it on the way to the Hofburg and decided we had to try it. The café is on the ground level of an attractive restored Jugendstil building with many interesting faces on the façade, and window boxes along one side facing the street. Inside, it’s not as opulent or grand as Café Central, for example, and more in the newspaper/worker/student mode than a huge touristy place, but very nice. It’s still a classic café full of things that are a sign of the golden age of Vienna cafes: chandeliers, marble tables, upholstered booths, waiters in tuxes, and newspapers.

We had breakfast there one morning—tea and coffee and a croissant with nuts, which croissant2wasn’t really a croissant at all, but a rather dense pastry with nuts. But still good. It wasn’t crowded the morning we were there and service was pretty good—no sign of the supposedly legendary snooty waiters at these grand cafes!

We’re told that the goulasch and apple strudel are good, so we need to return one day. We lingered and enjoyed the view of life passing by through the huge arched windows, and of the ambience inside.

Definitely one to return to.

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