The districts of Vienna have names, but are also numbered from 1 to 23. The city can be divided into four different parts. First, there is the center, the 1st District. Here, you will find the famous Ringstrasse , built by Emperor Franz Joseph I to replace the medieval city walls. All other districts circle around the 1st District, each individually representing the culture and architecture of Vienna.
1st District: Innere Stadt
This is the first, most elegant and one of the most expensive of Vienna's districts. Splendid boutiques, expensive hotels, popular cafes such as the Demel , the Burgtheater , the State Opera and most of the historic monuments are all located in the Innere Stadt (inner city). This area is also the home of many important politicians and the Austrian President. Here you will find medieval Vienna: old houses, narrow cobbled streets and romantic squares where one almost expects Mozart to appear around the next corner. Right through the 1st District runs Kärtnerstraße, a pedestrian zone and shopping boulevard with the State Opera at one end and Stephansplatz with Stephansdom at the other.
2nd District: Leopoldstadt
Leopoldstadt, the city's 2nd District, is separated from the center of Vienna by the Danube Canal and, along with the 20th District, Brigittenau, forms a misshapen island bordered to the east by the main arm of the Danube. For the most part, this area is a residential suburb only redeemed by the Prater , the vast city park with its funfair, the Augarten , and the Wiener Kriminalmuseum . Between 1600 and 1939, Leopoldstadt was the center of Vienna's Jewish community. In the mid-19th century, thousands of Jews took the opportunity to leave Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary and Galicia and migrated to the capital of the Habsburg Empire. The Strauss family, Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Arthur Schnitzler and Theodor Herzl all lived here at some point, before moving up in the world to the city's wealthier suburbs.
3rd District: Landstraße
Vienna's 3rd District lies to the east and southeast of the Innere Stadt, framed to the east by the Danube Canal (Donaukanal) and to the west by Prinz-Eugen-Straße and Arsenalstrasse. It is predominantly working-class. The one exception is the diplomatic quarter close to Schwarzenbergplatz and around the extraordinary rococo palace Belvedere . Here you will also find the Hundertwasserhaus , an architectural and colorful masterpiece, and the St. Marx Cemetery , Mozart's last resting place.
4th District: Wieden
In Wieden, situated between Karlsplatz, Wienzeile and Gürtel, the atmosphere is rather more splendid than in the neighboring 3rd District. The 4th is one of the more well-presented residential suburbs close to the city center. Here, you will find Radiokulturhaus , the Vienna Museum of History , and the Naschmarkt , Vienna's biggest and most adventurous market.
5th District: Margareten
Margareten lies next to Wieden between Gürtel and Wienzeile and is mostly a working-class suburb. There aren't very many attractions in this district, besides the Filmcasino .
6th & 7th Districts: Mariahilf & Neubau
Between Wienzeile and Lerchenfelderstrasse, Ringstrasse and Gürtel you will find Mariahilf and Neubau, divided by Vienna's biggest shopping boulevard, the Mariahilferstrasse . Back in the 1960s and 1970s, this area was rather dull, poor and not all that beautiful. Once home to many warehouses and beautiful patrician houses, housing conditions during the 1950s deteriorated and rents fell. Today, the old warehouses are chic studios and flats. With lots of chic bars and nightclubs, the 6th and the 7th Districts offer the busiest nightlife in town. The 6th district is also home to the Vienna State Opera and the flea market in Wienzeile, which takes place every Saturday.
8th & 9th Districts: Josefstadt & Alsergrund
Between Ringstraße and Gürtel and separating the Lerchenfelderstraße from the Donaukanal, you will find the districts of Josefstadt and Alsergrund, two very nice residential areas with large patrician houses. Many wealthy Viennese, who prefer to live in the city center and not in a villa outside of town, have flats here. The main attractions are the Theater in der Josefstadt , the Volksoper , the Sigmund Freud Museum , and his former practice couch included.
10th, 11th & 12th Districts: Favoriten, Simmering & Meidling
The only significant sight in these districts south of the Gürtel is the Zentralfriedhof in the outskirts of Simmering. Generally speaking, these are working-class suburbs dominated by flat buildings, ranging from the 1920s tenement housing to the huge project-type blocks of the 1980s and 1990s.
13th District: Hietzing
This area of town is a pleasant, fashionable garden-suburb west of the 5th district with lots of splendid villas and gardens, ranging from the Biedermeier summer residences (enjoyed by the 19th-century nobility), to the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) and modernist villas favored by the more successful artists and businessmen of late-imperial Vienna. Here, you will find the famous Cafe Dommayer , Schloss Schönbrunn with its park as well as the Lainzer Tiergarten , the former imperial hunting ground, nowadays Vienna's second biggest park.
14th, 15th & 16th Districts: Rudolfsheim & Ottakring
The 15th and 16th Districts with their patrician houses (situated between the Gürtel and the Wienerwald, west of the city center) were all built at the same time as the Ringstraße; but today, housing conditions are very poor (lots of flats still don't have indoor bathrooms). In the hilly part of Ottakring, you will find some beautiful old villas, including Schloss Wilhelminenberg .
17th, 18th & 19th Districts: Hernals, Währing & Döbling
Beyond the Gürtel and towards the Vienna Woods north of the center, the villas get bigger, the surroundings greener and the streets more splendid the further you go up the hills. In these districts you will have ample opportunities for relaxing walks in the woods, and also find beautiful Heurigen (traditional Austrian wine taverns), especially in Grinzing and Neustift am Walde. Vienna's greatest and most beautiful public swimming pool, the Krapfenwaldlbad , is situated in Döbling and offers a wonderful view over the city.
20th District: Brigittenau
Named after the 17th-century Brigittakapelle, much of the land on which this district sits was claimed from the Donau River after its containment in 1870. Around 1900, the 20th District was divided off of the larger 2nd to become Vienna's last district. Brigittenau lacks the historical attractions of many of the other districts, but contains the Millennium Tower, a high-rise spectacle, and the Hannover Market.
21st, 22nd & 23rd District: Floridsdorf, Donaustadt & Liesing
The Viennese call the districts Floridsdorf and Donaustadt Transdanubien (beyond the Danube) because they are situated on the other side of the riverbank, east of the city center. Here, you will find Vienna's most popular recreational area, the Donauinsel . This is a very thin, very long, artificial island in the river Danube—a paradise for rollerblading, cycling, jogging and walking. Liesing, which sits to the south of the city center, is huge with its small detached houses, council block buildings and some nice Heurigen places. Villages such as Mauer and Atzgersdorf are part of the 23rd district. They are so rural that it is sometimes hard to believe you are still in Vienna.
Some say coffee houses, Wienerschnitzel and wine taverns are defining characteristics of Vienna, and with good cause. Most coffee houses and wine taverns can give any reputable restaurant a good run for its money. The Beisl is a common Viennese name for a small tavern, restaurant or pub serving food. Should you be short of time, the omnipresent Würstelstand (sausage stands) are always worth a visit, serving typically Austrian sausage. The cheapest sit-down food is generally to be found in university restaurants, known as Mensa. Only opening on weekdays, they are terrific value for the money. There are also Austrian chains like Schnitzelhaus or Wienerwald. And, for those with a penchant for excellent food, Vienna offers plenty of fine restaurants, especially in the inner city. A word of advice: it might be wise to carry cash in Vienna, as many restaurants do not accept credit cards.
1st District: Innere Stadt
Restaurants serving Viennese cuisine abound in the 1st District. Plachutta is one of the city's best known places to dine. At Korso , Viennese and international specialties are served with the guest's choice of wine from their impressive wine cellar. Zu Den Drei Husaren is on the same exquisite level: formal, elegant, expensive, with live piano music. DO & CO boasts a unique location at the Haas-Haus, with a view of Stephansdom and superb food of gourmet quality. A more casual option is Einstein . Close to the university, it's a rather rustic-style place that serves good food. For those craving Asian cuisine, Yugetsu , a Japanese restaurant, comes highly recommended. Pizza lovers should head to Danieli , an upscale Italian restaurant. If you're a caffeine fiend, you'll be happy to know that the coffee house is an integral part of Viennese life. On just about every corner you will encounter one of these oases for an excellent cup of Austrian coffee, allegedly the best in the world. Cafe Central is amongst those classic places once frequented by famous turn-of-the-century literary personalities and intellectuals. In Cafe Landtmann , some of Austria's top politicians and journalists are known to congregate for a cup of coffee. Another classic is Cafe Hawelka where the whole gamut of Vienna's society meets, from students to celebrities. Or dine in the gorgeous glass-domed setting of Palmenhaus , amidst beautiful plants.
6th to 9th District
Another gorgeous coffeehouse that you should take a look at is Sperl , located in District 6. It's the oldest coffee house in Vienna (established in 1880), and it has some of the most beautiful old furnishings. The stylish Cafe Blaustern , however, boasts some of the best coffee in town and customers can watch the fresh coffee being roasted behind the counter. For something a little different, consider the Gastgarten (or Schanigarten). They belong to the Viennese gastronomic scene in the same way that the Alps belong to Austrian topography. The word "Schanigarten" is synonymous with sitting outside, breathing fresh air (rather than smoke) and enjoying a cool drink under the shade of a tree. Schanigartens are very often small calm areas in the midst of the city.
Drop by the Amerlingbeisl in District 7 to see an unusual example in the inner courtyard of an old building. Or head to District 9 and pay a visit to Stomach , where customers can enjoy a wine list featuring specialties from Austria's federal region, Styria. Vienna is not all upscale, however. Thousands of students in Austria's capital frequent the many casual places to eat surrounding its main university, although there are plenty more scattered around the city. Cafe Stein is also a popular meeting point after lectures; this modern establishment is always busy and attracts a mixed crowd. Some of the best and cheapest places for students to go out to eat are in the 8th District, where you will find pubs and restaurants en masse.
Heurigen are wine taverns serving the year's local vintage (Heuriger) and offer simple but excellent buffets to accompany their home-grown wines. They are found all over Vienna, but the more traditional places are usually found near the vineyards on the outskirts of the city. Grinzing is an example of the typical small villages in which you'll come across a great number of Heurigen.
Death, art and anarchy - in Vienna, one is confronted with a vast and diverse cultural history. The following tours give insight into the most famous attractions of the Austrian capital:
Stephansdom & Peterskirche
Within the historic center of Vienna, the 1st District Innere Stadt, the foundation stone for one of the world's most impressive Gothic cathedrals was laid in the 12th century: the Stephansdom . Enjoy the terrific architecture of this masterpiece, called Steffl by locals, before making your way to Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church). Located just around the corner, this enormous construction, resembling St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, is definitely an eyecatcher with its fascinating frescos. Another treat for the eyes is the beautiful Haas Haus , a breathtaking example of modernist fusion with classical principles. Just outside St. Peter's Church you will find yet another historic sight: the Graben. This famous street once defined Vienna's city limits back in the 1300s. Today, gourmet temples, boutiques and cafes attract many visitors to the former edge of Vienna. For a traditional Viennese pastry treat head over to Cafe Diglas , before walking north to Shakespeare & Company Booksellers , an insider's tip for English book enthusiasts in the city.
The most important secular building in Vienna, the Hofburg (Court Palace), is also located in the 1st District. Once the center of the powerful Habsburg Empire, the Hofburg is now home to various museums. Walk through the Burgtor (palace gate) and enhance your knowledge on Austrian culture at the Völkerkundemuseum (Museum of Ethnology), the country's literary roots at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Austrian National Library), and find out about Vienna's vast history of theater at the Theater Museum . After this cultural treat, walk south along the famous Ringstraße to the nearby palace garden, and enjoy traditional Viennese pastries and coffee at the famous Palmenhaus , next to the Mozart Memorial .
Burgtheater & Modern Art
Italian Renaissance of the 19th Century is also present in Vienna – start your tour at the University of Vienna , the oldest German-speaking university worldwide. Walk alongside Rathauspark (City Hall Park) towards Cafe Einstein , a hotspot among coffee-craving students. After feasting on Viennese specialties, walk east towards the infamous Burgtheater with its controversial plays, that have caused quite a stir among Vienna's bourgeoisie. Walk south on Ringstraße , past the Austrian Parlament , and make a right turn at the MuseumsQuartier (museum quarter). End your tour by enjoying this vast collection of contemporary art and modern culture in various museums on location.
Take the subway to Praterstern Bahnhof to experience one of the most interesting fairs in Europe: the Prater . There you can take on one of the many joyrides available, including the legendary Ferris wheel. If you're not particularly keen on one of the many traditional food options at one of the stalls on location, head towards the Schweizerhaus with its huge beergarden and the typically rustic Viennese cuisine, with an atmosphere to match. Discover the darker side of the city in the nearby Wiener Kriminalmuseum and learn about its criminal past before taking a closer look at the stars above Vienna at the Planetarium . If you fancy a stroll after the hustle and bustle of the Wurstelprater, walk towards the close by Flakturm in Augarten park with its open-air cinema during the summer months.
Anarchy & Hundertwasser
Start your tour at one of Vienna's famous architectural masterpieces, the Hundertwasserhaus . The misshapen and brightly colored walls and windows are certainly an inspiring treat. Make a stop at the cult cafe Schwarzes Cafe , a former anarchist hangout, where the occasional political statement comes free with your beverage or mostly vegetarian food. Walk past the beautifully situated Stadtpark on your way to enjoy the latest independent films from all over the world at the Stadtkino Wien . End your tour of this part of Vienna's 3rd district by dining at the rustic restaurant Zum Posthorn serving Carinthian, Slovenian and Italian cuisine for a reasonable price.
Death in Vienna
This special tour of Vienna cannot be taken without public transportation. However, it is worthwhile in order to learn more about the Viennese and their peculiar fascination with death. Start your tour in the 1. District at Kapuzinergruft . There you can visit the glorious Imperial crypt of the Habsburg family. 12 emperors and 15 empresses are buried within. Walk on down Operngasse to Albertinaplatz, where you can enjoy a decent cup of coffee at Cafe Mozart , before heading to Vienna's Undertaker Museum. Take the subway from nearby Karlsplatz to Südtiroler Platz and walk east to Goldeggasse. At the museum, you will get a fascinating insight into Vienna's history of death and burial rituals. Take a streetcar from Südbahnhof, south of Goldeggasse, to Wildgansplatz and walk east to St. Marx Cemetery . Amongst many pompous, gothic and gloomy graves of Austrian celebrities, you will also find the burial plot of world-renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. End your tour of death with a visit to the Zentralfriedhof – with 3 million graves Europe's second-largest cemetery. Take streetcar 71 from Sankt Marx, north of St. Marx Cemetery, to Tor 2 (2nd gate) of the central cemetery. There you will find maps to locate the graves of world-renowned artists, such as Johann Strauss, Ludwig van Beethoven and Hans Moser.
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