The Freyung is a triangular space near the Schottenkloster. The name Freyung ("free place") refers to the fact that, like St Stephen's it had the right of receiving and protecting any who were being pursued, except those who had shed blood. In olden days a Punch and Judy show stood on Freyung, and later on there was a gallows where quick justice was meted out to traitors. Mountebanks, hucksters and sweetmeat-sellers had their pitches here. It was only in the 17th and 18th C. that the buildings were erected which form the setting for Freyung today: Palais Ferstel (No. 2), Harrach Palace (No. 3; currently being refurbished by Oskar Schmidt as an exhibition center of contemporary art) and the Baroque Kinsky Palace (No. 4). The art forum of Bank Austria (No. 1) has interesting temporary exhibitions (open: daily 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Wed. until 9 p.m.).
In the middle of the Freying square is the Austria Fountain which is a work of Ludwig Schwantaler. It was cast by Ferdinand Miller in the Munich bronze foundry and unveiled on Freyung in 1846. Its allegorical bronze figures represent Austria and the main rivers of the monarchy as it then existed, the Po, Elbe, Weischel and Danube. There may be some truth in the Viennese chronicles which state that Alma von Goethe, the granddaughter of the poet, was the model for the figure of Austria at the age of 17, shortly before her death. After the bronze figure was completed, Schwanthaler is said to have had it filled with cigarettes in Munich to smuggle them into Vienna. The figure was set in place so quickly on arrival, however, that he never had the chance to "empty" Austria and the cigarettes may still be there to this day.
The palace with its beautiful facade and magnificent staircase was built between 1713 and 1726 to a design by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. It was commissioned by Count Daun, the father of the legendary commander in the seven year war against Friedrich II of Prussia.The Palais Ferstel, which Heinrich Ferstel, architect of the Votivkirche and the University, built in 1856-60 for the National Bank, has a distinct Italianate air. Until 1877 the Stock Exchange was housed here. For years the building was neglected but has been restored exactly as it was in the elaborate "Ringstrasse" style as an exclusive venue for conferences and banquets. A glass-roofed shopping arcade containing the fountain of the Danube sprites by Anton Fernkorn, leads to the Herrengasse.
The Cafe Central was reopened in 1986 in the Palais Ferstel. On entering the cafe from Herrengasse the visitor will find himself greeted by the writer Peter Altenberg - not, of course, in person but as a life-size model. Altenberg was a regular patron and often gave as his address "Vienna 1, Cafe Central". Other "regulars" who brought "renown" to the cafe and turned it into a Viennese institution were Egon Friedell, Franz Werfel, Stefan Zweig, Karl Kraus, Leo Trotzky and Alfred Polgar, who even wrote a theory on the Cafe Central. Today the cafe displays its wonderful vaulted ceiling and beautifully restored marble columns to visitors who may find it a pleasant place to stop and relax from the rigors of sightseeing.
Museum of the State of Lower Austria (closed)
The former Mollard-Clary palace in Vienna and its Roccoco apartments are the setting for the Museum of the State of Lower Austria.On the second floor will be found the Department of Cultural History, the most important department of the museum. Here a series of pictures lead the visitor back into the past, from Kokoschka via Gauermann, Waldmüller, Kupelweiser, Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Röttmayr, Maulbertsch, Altomonte and Kremser-Schmidt right back to 15th and 16th C. altar pieces and wood carvings (e.g., the "Flachau Madonna" of 1500). There is also detailed information on the settlement, landscape, flora and fauna, life and customs of Lower Austria.Established in 1923 in the former Baroque Palace of Mollard-Cley at Herrengasse 9, the Museum of the State of Lower Austria portrays the nature, art and cultural history of the region.ATTRACTION IS CLOSED.
Map of Vienna Attractions