Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Hidden Gems of Vienna | Travel

Vienna is world-famous for its vibrant art scene, its museums, its palaces and gardens and the River Danube. Lots of people also know about the seven square miles of vineyard within the city limits, and Vienna opera tickets are a popular choice of birthday or anniversary gift for music lovers. However, there’s a whole different Vienna right under your nose and it’s quite amazing.

The Hundertwasser House
This amazing piece of architecture will have you believing that an abstract painting has turned 3D before your very eyes. This house was constructed between 1983 and 1985 after being designed by famous Austrian painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000). Hundertwasser was allowed to go to town on the design of this building and he certainly did! The bright blocks of colour, the living grass roof and the trees growing inside the apartments are testament to his style. Design and architecture buffs and students should take this place in if possible. It’s actually lived in, so visitors will have to stop at the ground floor Kunst and CafĂ© shop, which offers a free film showing a tour (guided by the artist himself) of the rest of the building.

The Republic of Kugelmugel
Oh, those Viennese artists, always getting themselves into trouble! Edwin Lipburger got into hot water with the city authorities over some building permits, so he decided to cut his ties with Vienna and make his own republic – Hugelmugel – which is in fact a spherical house. The original designs for a roundhouse didn’t pass planning permission, so in 1985 the artist built another house on a hillside to avoid official scrutiny. The house was transplanted to a park and is now a tourist attraction.
Lipburger went the whole hog with his republic, naming himself ruler of hundreds of imaginary people, refusing to pay taxes and making his own stamps. He nearly ended up in the clink for this!

Taborstrasse
This is a hidden area of Vienna for many tourists. Taborstrasse is the Jewish District, also known as Matzo Island. It’s got its own special character and even though it’s in the heart of Vienna, it’s almost an island because it’s surrounded by the Danube and the Danube Canal. There are loads of independent and unique shops and markets and it’s also where the Vienna Boys’ Choir practices. You can also visit the Augarten Porcelain Factory.

The Krampuslauf

The Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, happens every December 5 and it’s for the stout-hearted only! Krampus is the Germanic anti-Santa – a furry, horned and hoofed demon that comes along not with a sack full of presents for good children, but a basket to collect naughty kids! Once trapped in the baskets, misbehaving children were eaten, drowned or kept prisoner for ever more, depending on who you listened to. If you’re lucky enough to be in Vienna in early December, head out to a Krampuslauf and you’ll see dozens of performers in stunning costumes stomping through the streets. They’ll torment anyone – young or old – who makes eye contact with them, so behave yourself!
Hundertwasser House

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