Since we decided to spend just three days in Vienna on our way back to Italy, we opted to select a very specific “tour” for each day, namely an Art Nouveau walk through the Austrian capital on the first day, the Imperial Vienna with Schönbrunn Castle on the second, and a wonderful and delicious exploration of the world of chocolate on our last day.
On the web you can find tons of information about almost any part of Vienna you would like to visit, anyway, as for the buildings in Art Nouveau style (a part from everything related to Klimt) I think that the guides by Maximilian Just were the best.
I hate squeezing in too many sights in a few-day trip (come on, it’s a holiday, not a tour-de-force!) so we decided to follow what we might call the “Secession Metro Line,” since in almost every stops of this line there’s something significant built in the Art Nouveau style. Here’s our itinerary along the U4:
1. Karlsplatz is quite beautiful, and the ex-metro station was designed by Otto Wagner.
2. Hietzing. We tried to see the metro station built exclusively for the Emperor Franz Joseph (apparently, it should have been really nice…) but restoration works were ongoing! Maybe you’ll be more lucky!
3. Unter St. Veit. This part of Vienna was quite …let’s say, “peculiar” to visit. I wanted to see Wagner’s Kirche am Steinhof, which is one of the most amazing churches in Liberty style. I didn’t know that it would have been that far, isolated, “oh-my-god-I-think-I’m-lost-somewhere-on-the-hills.” Just reading the “how to get there” instruction might not be enough! If you want to know how to get there, keep reading: when you exit the station, cross the zebra and then look for bus stop 47A or 48A (remember the “A,” it’s important!). Once you hop on, find a seat and relax, it will take at least half an hour to arrive. It’s almost at the end of the line…and in between there are several stops. If you are watching through the window and you see that the fancy historical buildings are getting fewer and fewer, the centre is disappearing and you start going up the hills, with more trees than houses, don’t worry, you’re on the right track! The church is a “hospital chapel” (defining it “chapel” doesn’t make it justice!) which is located in a huge (seriously, it’s incredibly large!) green area on the hills.
If it wasn’t for all the hospital buildings scattered around and the plaques to remember the Holocaust, it would be a very nice pine forest. The history of the place is indeed extremely creepy, during the WWII it was used to get rid of the “unwanted guests” so having mixed feelings while visiting the church, I guess, is quite normal and understandable.
Anyway, the church is awesome! It’s the religious counterpart to the beautiful building of the Secession (if you like the genre, of course…and also if you’re not particularly into Art Nouveau. Giacomo is not really a fan, he’s more of a Baroque admirer, but he was able to appreciate it (or to pretend to appreciate it…still not sure :P).
The church is usually closed so if you want to get inside here’s the details:
If you happen to be walking around Naschmarkt area (U4 stop: Kettenbrückengasse), there are some very interesting buildings in Linke Wienzeile (needless to mention, they’re all in Art Nouveau style!). To this list I add a quick stop at the “Angel Apotheke” right behind St. Stephen’s Dom (impressive but still no gothic match to Milan’s Dom) and an entire afternoon enjoying the Klimt collection inside the Belvedere.
Last but not least, the Museum of the Secession, in fiery white and flaming gold which, for no apparent reason (nonsense! madness!) has been turned into a gallery of modern art (the horror!).
Why, Vienna, did you have to move the works of art of the Secession in modern or baroque buildings and put modern nonsense on canvas in the beautiful now ex-museum of the Secession???