The oftentimes highly underestimated third district – Landstrasse – was our destination this time. But before entering the “Graetzl”, we relaxe in Vienna’s newest green island at Karlsplatz, the Karlsgarden.
The city garden is a project of the BOKU Wien to investigate plants and farming methods suitable for urban spaces. Beside all sorts of vegetables and spices, rectangular wooden troughs serve as research areas to find the best suitable soil material for urban farming. Simple but witty seating accommodations scattered throughout invite us to sit down for a peaceful moment at the otherwise busy Karlsplatz to watch the snail garden and the bee hotel. For the motivated ones there is also an audio app for mobiles for more details of the flora and fauna.
Refreshed we walk through the Resselpark, past the beautiful Karlskirche and enter the third district at Heumarkt, where the Soviet War memorial with its water fountain – the Hochstrahlbrunnen, still remembers the 17000 soldiers of the red army, who died in the liberation of Vienna from the Nazis. The memorial includes a triumphal arch and the figure of a soldier wearing a golden helmet, shield and gun holding a Soviet flag. The memorial was the first large construction project of the second republic of Austria and has since then been received by the public with mixed feelings considering that the occupation period under the soviets was difficult and far from the later glorified picture.
The location has also been haunted by criminal cases. In 1947 the Werwolf group, a resistance force of the Nazis, planned an assassination at the memorial. Later, in 1958, the dead body of Ilona Faber was found at the colonnade. In 1962 the police prevented a bomb attack just in time. A bag containing the explosive material, was placed at the socket of pillar. Evidences pointed towards a fascistic group in Italy.
From there, we dive into the 3rd district, strolling through the “Botschaftsviertel” with its embassies from Germany to China. Adjacent to the Russian embassy, the golden roofs of a reddish building stick out of the densely built-up area. It is the Russian-orthodox church “zum Heiligen Nikolaus”, a indeed well-hidden treasure of Vienna. The glamorous appearance of the church can only be outbidden by the golden interior and the colorful walls inside (take a look at the 360C views of the church’s inside). The church was built in the late 19th century and recently renovated. It has 5 golden domes and is a showpiece of the traditional Russian architecture.
As we go further down the very same street, Neulinggasse, we immediately fall in love with the “Schanigarten” Lucullus. Actually a very modern version of a Schanigarten, more reminiscent of beach holidays in the Caribbean. Lucullus is a catering firm but also has its own restaurant and in summer it offers outdoor seating in a tropical oasis. Where ever you look you see flowers, palm trees, candles and fruits! You can choose to sit at one of the tables, the bar or beach loungers and enjoy the international cuisine including Viennese traditional food. The menue is small, but the dishes are high quality and the selection is well thought through to serve everyone’s taste.
Strengthened, we continue our journey by a walk through the nearby Arenbergpark, which was implemented 1765 by Fuerst Esterhazy. At the entry of the park we discover yet another communal gardening space. When the 26 plant beds were distributed in 2012, 180 applicants made it necessary to randomly assign the space per lottery ticket. The lucky ones can now grow their own vegetables and plants.
Above the urban farming area, one of the two flak towers in this park brings to mind the darker times of the past. During the second world war three pairs of flak towers were built to defend the city and also to serve as bunkers. Today these giant reminders of the war are under preservation of historic interest and have been integrated into the city as storage room, climbing wall or museum.
Finally we stop for a last drink near Rochusmarkt at a charming Irish pub, the Golden Harp. We chose a table at the for-a-pub-unsual huge windows and enjoy the cosy atmosphere. All of us, living here since years, agree that Vienna still hides a lot of beautiful places!
More impressions of the walk on TEDxVienna flickr.
Here is the map of our evening walk:
Header image credit royalty free