When in Wien, tear out the guidebook pages on chocolate torte, and throw opera tickets in the bin. If the Café Schwarzenberg pastries leave the bitter taste of three centuries in your mouth, then it’s time to rewrite the symphony of your whirl around this Viennese cityscape.
Austrian and modernist theorist – Adolf Loos – labelled this a “Potemkin city” of false perception. Hence behind Habsburg palaces, you’ll uncover an eclectic mix of cultural spaces, infamous icons, and upbeat hangouts that live beyond the Beethoven landscape. In a land where Turkish migrants watch singing bearded ladies, there will be something that surprises you.
Flaktürme Aircraft Towers
In a heat of rage, Hitler raised menacing aircraft towers in the cities of the Reich. What were the launch pads of the Luftwaffe remain brutal in appearance and cold to touch – with stone facades and impressionable height. Time hasn’t indented walls 3.5m thick – so in the shadow of history, new generations of Viennese are creating anew.
The Esterházypark tower boasts a thriving aquarium on the inside, a fierce climbing wall on the outside, and a top floor café with city views. On balmy days, bike riders navigate towards the [quite large] shadows.
In touching distance of the Museum quarter, coffee brews and beverages quench the first of the intellectually needy. An artistically unarranged interior establishes living room social dynamics; hence chitchat bathes in the glow of lampshade constellations at twilight. Whilst the ‘What’s On’ posters and pot plants speak of student communal spaces, well stocked bookshelves are a window for exploring the literary concoctions of Penguin classics.
Phil is all things to all people: bookshop, café, bar, and late-night entertainment vortex. Locals pledge allegiance to the breakfast, whilst many millennials treasure free Wi-Fi and upcycled furniture. It’s worth a peak.
Raving club nights and James Bond film crews continue to give the Simmering Gaswerks an explosive reputation. Architect-led apartments and shopping spaces now provide the foundations. Hence cinemas and students fuel the modern day neighbored on culture. The outside retains ornate appeal – with round, red brick exteriors that invite the eyes of the curious.
The 90,000 m³ structures show that all structures have a capacity for effective reuse. Take the camera, and pick up coffee.
Elderly but upbeat, the Naschmarket is an institution of authenticity. Sweet yoghurt coated apricots and slopes of salty clams mingle with gelato stalls that churn on old-age recipes and modern day diversity. It’s packed with more than 120 stands that – like the vegetables on show – come in all shapes and sizes. Amidst a field of green huts and canopies, uncover Turkish wine, Italian olives, and the finest Austrian cheeses.
On Sundays, you’ll also discover more than 400 antique traders, flogging well-worn jean jackets and rough-edged rugs. If not assembling a lunch-to-go, then book an appointment with ‘Dr Falafel’ for a tahini-fest. However, if you’re unsatisfied by that point, cycle 13 minutes east for the Brunnenmarkt. Further delicacies and life stories burst from the seams of the street scene.
On the perimeter of the Prater and the Wiener Wheel, Fluc has turned the second district into the first choice for alternative nightlife. In daylight, its railings are a mesh of metallic bedframes, and cuboid structures drip in duck-egg blue. This is an alloy of style and youthful make-do, which beats in the minds of partygoers.
An atmospheric bunker space sticks to drum and bass, whilst the top floor ‘café’ sends espresso shots of experimental, electronic and indie waves into the eardrums of a mostly intellectual crowd.
Vienna is a multidimensional ‘classic’, where young minds excel at creativity. Like the best abstract art, each day in this city is a personal interpretation. From high-tech pastries to preloved market material, it’s an urban system that feeds off fun. With revolutionary tendencies, himself, Wolfgang Mozart would declare it wicked.