The beauty of old Vienna

Travel back in time – Old Vienna

Most of you know about our city’s history. About our traditions and the places, where we can still experience old Vienna. We at Secret Vienna have set ourselves to take you back in time. To walk you through the streets and past the buildings that are full of history.

Today I want to introduce you to four (4) spots where you can “travel back in time”, to experience old Vienna and its traditions.

Hoher Markt

Today the Hoher Markt is a famous spot for cafés, shopping and history. In mediaeval times the Hoher Markt was the spot in Vienna to buy fish, bread, bee wax, different types of grease, shoes and textiles. In the 15th century, things began to change. The marketplace was expanded into a spot of interaction between craftsmen and craftswomen. Even courthouses were built there. Criminals and “witches” were brought here for their trials. Such as Elisabeth Plainacher, the only Viennese “witch” that was burned on the stake in 1583.


The story of the Stephansdom is quite famous, hence why I won’t focus on it today. I want to tell you about the imprint of a circle you can find on the facade of the Stephansdom, on the left side of the portal. Bread was the main source of food, the quality as well as the size of it was crucial. The circle could be used to measure the size of bread. And if a baker was guilty of fraud, he was punished with something called Bäckerschupfen. He was put in a wooden cage and dumped into a body of water (not just once, but quite a few times).


The Griechengasse, which can be entered from the Rotenturmstraße, is one of my absolute favourite alleyways in the inner city. Not only because it has a truly magical flair to it, but because it also leads to the Griechenbeisl, and a recap of old Vienna isn’t complete without mentioning the famous Augustin. Every Viennese child is familiar with the song “Oh du lieber Augustin”, which tells the fate of the singer Augustin who fell into a plague pit and was pronounced dead. But after a bit of time, he woke from his drunken slumber and was pulled back to his feet. The historical Augustin died six years (1685) after this happened, he was found dead on a street. Nobody knew his surname, just the forename Augustin stuck. He was said to visit the Griechenbeisl regularly, a restaurant that is still quite famous, even today.


The Freyung, just a few minutes away from the Stephansdom or the Schottentor, is a spot filled with history. But I want to concentrate on a small detail most people don’t pay enough attention to when they walk to or away from the inner city. The next time you walk past the Palais Ferstel look at the ground you’re walking on. Parts of the pavement are from the 13th century, the small plaque on the ground says “Pavement of the Freyung, around 1200”.

Perhaps the next time you take a stroll through the first district you’ll pay closer attention to the pavement, the buildings and the smaller alleyways. Take a few moments to listen to the stories those magnificent places have to tell.

Make sure to check out our private tours for more information about old Vienna.

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