Vienna, First District: The "Innere Stadt", Part I
Vienna′s first district is called "Innere Stadt", which means "Inner City" and is quite self-explanatory. It is not only the most central of all districts and the legislative focal point of Vienna, it is also the historic core of the city. In fact, until the demolition of the town walls took place in the 19th century, the area that is the first district today was the walled part of Vienna and the modern districts 1 to 9 were suburbs. Even now that most of these suburbs are densely populated and occupy pretty central parts of Vienna, they are still called the "Vorstädte" ("suburbs"). Back to the Inner City…
It is framed by the Ringstraße, which follows the course of the old town walls. Of all districts in Vienna, the first is the oldest and the only one with noteworthy medieval buildings. It also concentrates the vast majority of all sightseeing attractions of Vienna: Museums, palaces, churches - you name it. If it isn′t in the first district, it is likely to be by or near the Ringstraße and thus in walking distance to the first. Therefore, the first district is also the most touristy - in fact, visitors that stay for only a day or a weekend in Vienna are likely to spend all their time here.
Facing the crowds of tourists, it is easy to miss that the first district is also Austria′s most important administrative, political and to an extent economic centre. Here you find not only the houses of parliament, the city hall of Vienna and the administration of various Viennese and international organisations, but also the headquarters of many international corporations.
Social implications of Life in the First District of Vienna
For lots of them, an office in the prestigious first district is necessary to have for the letterheads. Speaking of prestige: The first district has a population of a mere 17,000, with a high percentage of foreigners. Yet Viennese consider an address from the first district to be equivalent with an academic degree or a noble name.
In terms of sightseeing, it is difficult to make a start - the Stephansdom cathedral is the natural focal point, with the Erzbischöfliches Palais right next to it. From here, you can either stroll towards the rather shabby Schwedenplatz area and Donaukanal, which was hit badly by bomb raids during WWII and was rebuilt in concrete ugliness after the war.
Or you move towards the Jesuit Church, stroll around the Medieval parts of the former University District and enjoy the many small bars and restaurants in this area. It is among my favourite areas in Vienna, with cosy cafes and the only parts in the first district, where neither tourists nor shopping-mad crowds get to. At least not in large numbers. Note also the Franziskanerkirche and Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen.
Speaking of shopping: The Kärntner Straße and the Graben start at the Stephansdom and together with the Kohlmarkt, they are Austria′s most luxury shopping areas. On Neuer Markt Square, you will find the Donnerbrunnen fountain.
The Kohlmarkt leads to the Hofburg palace, where you find a whole bunch of attractions: The Spanish Riding School, the Burgkapelle, the breathtaking treasury, the Austrian National Library, the Michaelerplatz and Church with the Looshaus, the Albertina with the World′s finest collection of graphic art, the parks of the Burggarten and the Volksgarten (the former with the Palmenhaus greenhouse) as well as a hand full of other museums. A nearby and noteworthy palace is Palais Pallavicini. The Dorotheum is a famous auction house from Austria and has its headquarter in this area.
Continue with "First District,
Vienna: Innere Stadt - 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)