Graben, a wide-open space which is half street and half square, is the hub of the great city of Vienna. In 1950 it was the first place to have fluorescent lighting. In 1971 it became the first pedestrian zone, and soon afterwards cafes took over for the summer months what was formerly a major thoroughfare. Graben was once the city moat around the Roman camp, then it became the flower and vegetable market, and from the 17th C. on it was the scene of Court festivities.
Inspired by St.Peter's Church in Rome, Vienna's Collegial and Parish Church of St. Peter features a striking, oversized dome. The Church also houses several esteemed works of art.
Dating back to 1155, The Scots Monastery reflects a distinctly Baroque architectural style.
Mary on the Strand Church
First mentioned in documents in 1158, the Church of Maria am Gestade (Mary on the Strand) is popularly called the "Maria-Stiegen-Kirche" (Mary on the Steps). As its name suggests, it once stood on the banks of the old arm of the Danube. It is the Czech national church, and its entrancing pierced Gothic cupola is one of the characteristic sights of the northern Old City of Vienna.Maria am Gestade, originally a wooden oratory dating from the ninth C., used to stand on the steep slope up from the Danube. The present building, with its Gothic stained glass, was erected mainly between 1394 and 1414. The tower was badly damaged during the Turkish sieges and was renewed in the 16th C., while extensive restoration work was carried out in the 19th and 20th C. The west front of the church is only some 10m/30ft wide but nearly 33m/105ft high. The building looms above the old, narrow lanes like the prow of a ship. Inside, two Gothic sandstone figures (near the second pillar on the east side of the nave) date from the 14th C., while two Gothic paintings in the chapel dedicated to Clemens Maria Hofbauer, the patron saint of the city of Vienna, are 15th C. The organ gallery and a stone Renaissance altar in the Johann Perger Chapel are 16th C.; the other church furnishings are 19th C. work.
In the middle of the Graben stands the famous Plague Pillar. This 21m/70ft tall Baroque pillar (also called the "Trinity Pillar") owes its existence to a vow made by Emperor Leopold I. He swore that when the plague ceased he would pay for the erection of a pillar which would reach up to heavens. The plague of 1679 cost 75,000 Viennese their lives, other estimates even reach 150,000. The first plague pillar was erected in the same year. The construction of the definitive Plague Pillar by Matthias Rauchmiller was begun in 1681, continued after his death, which occurred in 1686, by J.B. Fischer von Erlach, and completed in 1693 by Locovico Burnacini. The figure of the Emperor kneeling in prayer is the work of Paul Strudel, that of the Trinity was modeled by Johann Kilian of Augsburg.
Old Town Hall (Museum and Archives of Austrian Resistance)
The Old Town Hall in Vienna, opposite the Böhmische Hofkanzlei, houses the archive of the Austrian Resistance Movement. In the Resistance Museum are exhibits illustrating the active revolt against Austrian Fascism (1934-38) and of the resistance and persecution under the National Socialists in Austria (1938-45).Although the decision to set up the Museum of Austrian Resistance in the Old Town Hall has little to do with the history of the building, there are nevertheless parallels. The Old Town Hall was originally the house of a rebel, Otto Heimo.After Emperor Albrecht I was murdered in 1309 a number of influential Viennese citizens including Heimo resolved to resist the Habsburg rulers. However the plot was discovered, the conspirators punished and their property confiscated. Duke Frederick the Fair gave Heimo's house to the municipality in 1316. The building remained the town hall until 1885 and during this time was on several occasions altered, enlarged and partly rebuilt. It received its Baroque facade about 1700 and the portals with the sculptures of "Fides publica" and "Pietas" by Johann Martin Fischer are also 18th C. The Andromeda Fountain with a lead relief of Perseus and Andromeda in the courtyard is one of Raphael Donner's last works, dating from 1741.A memorial to the Austrian resistance fighters and victims of the Nazi regime can be found five minutes away at No. 6 Salztorgasse.
Address: 1, Wipplingerstrasse 8, Staircase 3, Austria
Opening hours: 2pm-5pm; Thu: 9am-12pm; Fri: 9am-12pm; Closed: Sun, Tue, Wed, Sat
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Transit: U-Bahn: Stephansplatz, Schwedenplatz(U1, U4); Bus: 1A, 2A, 3A.
In 1400 a wealthy cloth merchant, Michael Menschein, had the great hall on the first floor of the house at Tuchlauben 19 (near the Graben square) decorated with frescoes depicting the Minnesänger Neidhart's poetry. In 1715/16 the house was refashioned in the Baroque style and most of the paintings were destroyed and the rest covered with a thick layer of plaster. The frescoes were discovered by accident during renovation work in 1979 and took three years to restore. They are the oldest secular wall paintings in Vienna and an important example of popular art in the late Middle Ages. The walls of the 15 ê 7.5m/50 ê 25ft hall were originally completely covered; the frescoes depict typical scenes from Neidhart's songs in the cycle of the four seasons.
The pedestrianized Kohlmarkt links Michaelerplatz and Graben. Wood and coal was once sold on the site of these luxurious shops and elegant boutiques. Two of these, Nos. 7 and 8/10, have facades designed by Hans Hollein in post-Modernist style decorated boldly in metal and marble. The fine Art Nouveau (No. 9) Artaria Publishing House where Chopin lived during his stay in Vienna is interesting.
Map of Vienna Attractions