Vienna, 11th District: Simmering - Part I
The 11th district of Vienna is Simmering, a district busy and urban in its north, where it borders to Landstraße (the third district) - and suburban, if not rural, in the south. The southern border marks the outskirts of Vienna and grants access to both the industrial airport area of Schwechat and the green forests of the Danube at the onset of the National Park Donauauen. There are about 80,000 people that have to call Simmering home - and about three millions that are buried there.
The history of Simmering dates back to - at least as far as it concern written records - the year 1028. In 1605, a brewery was founded in Simmering, and the production of beer remained the most significant feature of the village in the vicinity of Vienna for the next 300 years.
The local landlords were the counts of Ebersdorf (although strictly speaking, the did not live in the village of Simmering, but another village called like their dynasty - Ebersdorf later became a part of Vienna and the district of Simmering; in 1892). Emperor Maximilian II liked the area, which was well-known as a hunting ground. In 1569, the Habsburg gave order to build a castle, Schloss Neugebäude. It became the biggest Renaissance palace in Austria.
Renaissance Heritage of Simmering
The more surprising it is that today, that little is preserved of Schloss Neugebäude. After the death of Maximilian II, nobody had interest in the massive palace and parks. Schloss Neugebäude fell into disrepair and was used for barracks from 1744 to 1918. Later, most parts of the palace were demolished and the remains opened to the public only in 2002.
Since then, cultural events sometimes take place here, but the only way to get an idea of its renaissance glory is to go to the Wien Museum, where there are paintings of the palace on display. This was the how I learned that the palace had ever existed - it took me a while to figure out that there were actually parts left that were still standing; easily as fascinating as learning of the palace′s existence in the first place.
Speaking of buildings with a new use: In the north of Simmering, you can find the Gasometer, enormous 19th century gas storage buildings that were recently refurbished and transformed into quite innovative apartment blocks. The Gasometer project helped to re-vive this otherwise reasonably attractive area of Vienna.
Sightseeing in Northern Simmering
In terms of apartment blocks, the fact that Simmering is a labourer′s district helped it to become of key interest to the Social Democrats during the period of the "Red Vienna" in the 1920ies. In this decade, the Social Democrats had several major apartment blocks erected - for further information on that era, read the article on the Karl-Marx-Hof.
The main attraction of Simmering, however, are nor apartment blocks - but the Zentralfriedhof or Central Cemetery. The biggest cemetery of Europe, with three million resting bodies, including celebrities like Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert or Falco; keep in mind though that the pretentious Viennese were cheap enough to build empty tombs for decomposing superstars they didn′t even own - such as Mozart, who was actually dumped in a mass grave in nearby St. Marx Cemetery and whose precise location is unknown.
Continue with "Simmering Sightseeing - Part II"
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Sightseeing Guides to Vienna's Districts
District Overview - 1st District (Innere Stadt) - 2nd District (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd District (Landstraße) - 4th District (Wieden) - 5th District (Margareten) - 6th District (Mariahilf) - 7th District (Neubau) - 8th District (Josefstadt) - 9th District (Alsergrund) - 10th District (Favoriten) - 11th District (Simmering) - 12th District (Meidling) - 13th District (Hietzing) - 14th District (Penzing) - 15th District (Fünfhaus) - 16th District (Ottakring) - 17th District (Hernals) - 18th District (Währing) - 19th District (Döbling) - 20th District (Brigittenau) - 21st District (Floridsdorf) - 22nd District (Donaustadt) - 23rd District (Liesing)