A lot to see
50 hectares of Baroque gardens with over 30 types of trees, massive flak towers from the Second World War, home of the second-oldest porcelain manufacturer in Europe and Vienna’s renowned Boys Choir. All this and much more can be found at Augarten, in Vienna’s second district. In 1614 the house of Habsburg had a hunting lodge constructed at the heart of its imperial hunting grounds – at that time still a wild wetland area going by the perilous name “Wolfsau”. 35 years later the family extended this to encompass an impressive recreation park and in this way laid the cornerstone for today’s Augarten. However, it was Joseph II, son of the Empress Theresia, who first opened the exclusive imperial park towards the end of the 18th century and dedicated it to “all people as a place of merriment” – as stated by the large inscription above the main gate.
“If he wanted to remain among his equals then he would have to choose the imperial crypt with the Capuchins.” The sarcastic response of Emperor Joseph II to the gentry’s complaints that Augarten was opened up to the common people.
Augarten became a hot spot
leisure time, nature and culture combined here: The morning concerts in Castle Augarten were legendary, conducted by famous artists such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From then on Augarten experienced ups and downs, with its lowest point coming during the Second World War: Tons of debris, bomb craters and mass graves left little of the one-time pleasure park. Two powerful flak towers recall these dark times – the attempts to blow them up after the war were in vain.
Today Augarten is reliving its former heyday: It is a place where the Viennese live, enjoy sports, get out and about, and natter. A place that lies close to the hearts of the residents, where everyday and high culture find a home together. Where else could the world renowned Vienna Boys Choir mingle inconspicuously amongst other children and the painters of the richly traditional Augarten porcelain manufacturer gain inspiration from the colourful blossoms, or the filigree figures in the yoga classes in the park?
Text: Verena Brandtner, Fotos: Christine Wurnig, Bild Sängerknaben: Wien Tourismus Lukas Beck