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Secret Vienna Blog


The Highs and Lows of the Historical Sophiensäle

Large-scale fires are always shocking when they happen, though unfortunately every major city has an entire history of buildings and cultural artifacts lost to fire – and Vienna is no exception. Although fires were more common in the past when building codes were less sophisticated than today, large-scale fires still occasionally occur, sometimes destroying historical…

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January 12, 2020

The story of Helmut Portele

Perhaps some of our readers collect things. Some people collect items such as stamps, books, coins etc. and these items would fit usually in one’s home. Another type of collector would hunt for bigger things such as old timers or motorcycles and one would definitely need a large space to store these. Helmut Portele belonged…

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December 12, 2019

The story of the “Pferdebändiger”

Perhaps you know that Emperor Franz Josef suffered an assassination attempt. That was in 1853 and the men who saved his life were rewarded. Maximilian Karl Lamoral O’Donnell was made a count of the Habsburg Empire and the butcher Joseph Ettenreich became Joseph von Ettenreich. And this was not all, the emperor’s brother Ferdinand Maximilian…

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October 25, 2019

The Story of the Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel

As you can imagine, after the fall of the Habsburg empire, many buildings were left without an empire to serve. Most of them, however, found a new life, such as the former Imperial and Royal Stables that now host the MuseumsQuartier. There are other perhaps less-known buildings that have also found a new life. This…

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October 20, 2019

The Arena

On June 27, 1976 a group of activists, referring to themselves as the Arenauten, occupied the abandoned area of the St. Marx slaughterhouse to protest the lack of alternative culture venues for young people. Eventually the activists had to move to a part of the slaughterhouse built in 1908. That is where the story of…

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September 7, 2019

The story of the Vienna Tramwaymuseum

Together with excellent tap water, fresh air, urban silence and Mahlzeit, Vienna’s trams are part and parcel of the list of things that make this beautiful city tick. Like most things that function almost flawlessly, it is easy to just take them for granted as something that has been here forever and will be here…

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August 25, 2019

A racetrack fit for a king

Did you know that Vienna historically had two separate horse race tracks, one for trotting (Trabrennbahn) and one for galloping (Galopprennbahn). The Galopprennbahn is the older of the two, having been opened already in 1839. It was according to the architectural and artist tenants of Historicism, which was popular at the time, incorporating a great…

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May 14, 2019

The Russian orthodox cathedral of Vienna

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is probably the most famous building in Vienna. But few people know that it is not the only cathedral in town. Take the splendid Russian Orthodox St. Nicholas Cathedral, for example. It is located in the third district of Vienna, in the heart of the city’s diplomatic quarter. It was built between…

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February 8, 2019

The story of the Palais Rasumofsky

The Palais Rasumofsky was built in 1806 as a garden palace for the Russian ambassador Andrei Kirillowitsch Rasumofski who was known as a generous supporter of the fine arts: The ambassador had an enormous art collection, which has been described as one of the most important ones in Vienna. Even Beethoven dedicated various sonatas to him. Unfortunately, in New…

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January 7, 2019

Financing the livestock market

Some weeks ago we told you about the animal market at St. Marx. Such a large market naturally also meant that quite large sums of money regularly changed hands as animals were bought and sold – which required the establishment of financial institutions in order to be able to handle these transactions. If you walk…

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November 20, 2018

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