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Secret Vienna Blog

Archive: Dec 2017

Ida Pfeiffer, the woman who travelled the world

As the year comes to an end and we look to the new year for new adventures, perhaps we can all take a page out of the book of Ida Pfeiffer, a Viennese woman of the early 19th century who broke norms, lived fearlessly, and travelled the world by herself at a time when this…

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December 29, 2017

Dr. Mundy, a fire, and Vienna’s first ambulance service

Though perhaps no longer commonly known, Vienna was at the forefront of the most advanced medical knowledge in the world in the 19th century. Vienna at the time was known as the “mecca of medicine” – a somewhat ironic description given the emerging emphasis on systematic research and observation over faith or trial-and-error. One person…

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December 26, 2017

The TU and the Cemetery of the Condemned

In a city with a history as long and colorful as Vienna’s, the past is never far from the present. This became clear this past Wednesday night, December 20th, when your SV Explorer happened upon a rather dramatic scene at the Technical University. The street was blocked off, police officers and firefighters milled about, and…

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December 21, 2017

Vivaldi’s last summer in Vienna

Summer time in Vienna means, among many other things, a non-stop array of festival and events in the most popular of the city’s squares. Find yourself here in those warmer months and you will likely while away a few hours in front of the Karlskirche tasting your favorite drink, dancing, or enjoying a live concert. …

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December 20, 2017

Tragedy and thrills: the Donauturm

If you are looking out across Vienna, one of the structures likely to catch your eye is the Donauturm, which stands in relative isolation in the Donau Park in the 22nd district. The tower was built in the early 1960s as part of the Vienna International Garden Show, and at 252 meters was significantly taller…

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December 17, 2017

Kolingasse: From Military Grandeur to Forgotten Alleyway

Kolingasse is a street you have probably walked past many times without thinking twice, but the next time you are there, take a moment to notice how much wider and grander it is than other similar streets in the area. In fact, the word ‘gasse’ doesn’t begin to do justice to what is in reality…

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December 14, 2017

The story of the Favoritenstraße

The Habsburgs used to enjoy summer at different locations and, therefore, they built or bought several residences for summer time. One of these residences was located in the “Kaiserweg” (The emperor’s road) in today’s fourth district (Wieden). In addition to this one, there was another summer residence located in today’s Augarten in the second district….

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December 14, 2017

Mary Vetsera and the man who stole her bones

It was one of the most exciting stories of his life. A stranger entered and declared to the writer George Markus that he was “in possession” of the remains of Baroness Mary Vetsera. Then he opened a red briefcase, took out a skull and laid it on the desk. “That’s Mary,” he said. The man…

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December 11, 2017

The story of Gerngroß

The Mariahilferstraße carves a border between Vienna’s sixth and seventh district and it is an unmissable – or perhaps simply unavoidable – section of the city.  It is hard to imagine that someone in Vienna has not visited this street: maybe for shopping or window-shopping, drinks and clubbing, or just for a walk.  At least…

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December 10, 2017

The story of Der Graben

What is in a name? Very little, would argue Shakespeare’s Juliet. A rose, famously, would smell as sweet by any other name. Can the reverse be true though? Can a ditch, while retaining its name, be anything other than a drab hole in the ground? The very center of Vienna is dominated by the Stephansdom,…

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December 10, 2017