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Secret Vienna Blog

Archive: Mar 2018

Street Scales and the Nature of Shame

One thing you may notice when strolling around Vienna are street scales scattered here and there, offering to give you a very public weigh-in for a bargain price of 20 cents. There are more than 100 of these around the city, usually near subway stations or around large intersections. If you’ve lived in Vienna long…

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March 30, 2018

The Watery Past of “Im Werd”

After we told you last week what is a Tabor and where Taborstrasse comes from, we come back today to 2nd district to unearth more of its history. Today’s street is named Im Werd, a small street which borders the beautiful Karmelitermarkt. Werd, in old German, means island, and the name telsl us about the geography of the…

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March 28, 2018

What’s in a Viennese Street Name?

There are many fascinating maps in existence, and not all of them are old. The Research Center for Cartography at the Technical University specializes in all kinds of maps, and put out a ‘Karte der Woche’ (map of the week) for public viewing. This week’s map visualizes the streets of Vienna in an unusual but…

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March 28, 2018

A scandal made of antifreeze and wine

Anyone who lives in this city knows that the Viennese love themselves an ‘achterl’ of wine at just about any time of day. Indeed, Austrians consume somewhere around 250 million liters of wine per year, with Vienna making up the lion’s share of that consumption. Austrian wines are also sold for export, bringing in around…

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March 20, 2018

“I want Schönbrunner Gelb!”

As you walk around Vienna, you may notice a disproportionately large number of buildings painted in a yellowish hue. Colors have long been used as a means to symbolization and to communicate status – particularly in pre-modern times when few people could read and write, colors were a popular means of communicating basic information. And…

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March 16, 2018

Suleiman the Magnificent meets Freud on the Ringstrasse

Among the many things we owe to Freud, there is also this idea that what is not visible can be more important than what is visible. And taking a walk on Ringstrasse, let’s say from Rathaus to Votivkirche, not far from where he lived, we can test this concept with interesting results. If we stop…

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March 16, 2018

The story of the Taubstummengasse

If you use the U1 for your daily commute perhaps you have come across the station with the name “Taubstummengasse”. Ever wonder why that name? During the time of Joseph II, a school for deaf-mute children was established in Vienna. After several locations, in the 1820s the “Taubstummeninstitut” was brought to the fourth district. The…

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March 15, 2018

The Skandalkonzert of 1913, or the most Viennese fight of all time

Like all places, Austria has seen its fair share of scandals – but some of them are quintessentially Viennese. This includes a particular scandal in the early 20th century, which has gone down in history as the Skandalkonzert of 1913, and truly could have only happened in Vienna. The concert in question took place at…

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March 13, 2018

Philharmonia Hungarica

The time it takes to reach Vienna from Budapest depends not only on the means of transportation but also on geopolitics. An easy three-hour drive can turn into four or more if you put some border control in between. Put an Iron Curtain and the time may become infinite. In November 1956 Zoltán Rozsnyai was…

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March 11, 2018

The Spanish Flu from America

This year it is exactly 100 years since the great Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918, which killed some 25 million people worldwide – including around 20,000 in Austria. Although it is known as Spanish influenza, it likely originated in the United States and was transported by American soldiers to Europe in the last years of…

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March 8, 2018