Vienna, 14th district: Penzing

14th District, Vienna: Penzing

The 14th district of Vienna, Penzing, is not only home to 80,000 residents, but also to many sightseeing attractions. Nonetheless, almost no international tourists ever make it to Penzing, unless they are driven by specialist interests. For example, in Jugendstil architecture. In Penzing you find two villas that were designed by Otto Wagner, the local hero of Art Nouveau. Wagner owned and lived in both places, and they are appropriately called "Otto Wagner Villa I" and "Otto Wagner Villa II".

The former now belongs to Ernst Fuchs, a painter of the Wiener Schule des Phantastischen Realismus. When I was eight years old, I won a drawing competition at school and was awarded some little toys and a certificate passed to me by Ernst Fuchs. This puts me in the privileged situation of actually having been in the private rooms once - imagine it to be a "Hieronymus Bosch on LSD" scenario through the united forces of Jugendstil and Phantastic Realism. There are public parts of the building with an exhibition dedicated to the landlord′s artwork.

More approachable and accessible is the Kirche am Steinhof. The Steinhof hospital for mentally ill people was opened on the peak of Vienna′s glorious early records of psychotherapy in 1907. Back then, it was not part of Vienna, actually, but belonged to Lower Austria. Nevertheless, the clinic was the most modern and I think also the biggest in Europe. Individual houses were built in a pine tree forest, which is the main reason for the strangely Mediterranean atmosphere.

Art Nouveau Attractins of Penzing: Vienna Jugendstil

The pine trees, but also the Italianesque style of the houses. The most important building, however, is the masterpiece of Otto Wagner: The Jugendstil church am Steinhof, a temple-like building on the highest point of the clinic. It overlooks Vienna very neatly and since its recent refurbishment in 2007 (the 100th anniversary), interiors and the outside are shinier than ever.

Less shiny parts of the Steinhof are houses of the clinic that fall into disrepair - strangely neglected by a city that is full of nuts and therefore, should be in urgent need of a modern hospital for mentally ill. There is also a small memorial that commemorates that the Steinhof participated in euthanasia programs during the Nazi time.

It is in the surroundings of Penzing where you find a suburban flair. This is quite visible around Hütteldorf, where football enthusiasts will also find the Ernst-Hanappi stadium. There are small churches, gardens and parks that make you forget that Vienna′s city centre is actually pretty close. Penzing, by the way, is one of the "greenest" districts of Vienna - approximately 48 percent of the district consist of forests of the Wienerwald.

South-East Penzing: Imperial Vienna

Taking a tram towards the Westbahnhof Station, you will quickly realise the vicinity of the city centre. Around the station, Vienna is a busy and very urban place. Here you find the most important museum of Penzing, the Technisches Museum (Museum of Technology). Another foundation of Imperial Austria from around 1900 - and certainly worth a closer look. Either that or the IMAX cinema right next to it in the Auer-Welsbach Park.

Other minor attractions of Penzing include the birthplace of Gustav Klimt (for his tomb move one district to the south, to visit the Hietzinger Friedhof), the army barracks of the Biedermann-Huth-Raschke-Kaserne and Vega-Peyer-Weyprecht-Kaserne, the small palaces of Palais Cumberland, Schloss Laudon and the Villa Windisch-Graetz and about a dozen of churches at varying degrees of interest.

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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)

Further Reading

The Districts of Vienna: An Introduction

Official Website of Vienna

Wikipedia on Vienna's 14th District - Penzing

City of Vienna: Districts of Vienna - Penzing