Strudelhofstiege, Alsergrund:
The Most Famous Staircase of Vienna

Strudelhofstiege, photographed in summer of 2008

The Strudelhofstiege is a staircase in the 9th district of Vienna (Alsergrund) - and the most famous staircase of Vienna. It "bridges" the area of Strudelhofgasse (known for Vienna University′s institute for physics) and Liechtensteinstraße (known for the Palais Liechtenstein Museum). The Austrian physicist and Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger lived in an apartment at the base of Strudelhofstiege.

The staircase was designed by Theodor Jaeger and built in 1910 in a rather tame Art Nouveau or Jugendstil style. The Strudelhofstiege is made of limestone from Mannsdorf and named after the painter Peter Strudel who lived at the area of today′s Strudelhofgasse in the 17th century. Peter Strudel built the Strudelhof Court there; the Italian-born artist died here in 1740, his artistic legacy marks the turn to Austrian high-Baroque style. Strudel was "Hof- und Kammermaler" (Court and Chamber Painter) at the Imperial Court.

The Strudelhofstiege has a fountain that is divided into two sections. The upper basin has a stone mask that serves as a sort of gargoyle, in the lower basin a fish plays this role. It was renovated in 1984. All that isn′t that exciting - a pretty staircase, a nice piece of Jugendstil architecture. But the Strudelhofstiege is rather famous in Austria - and this is due to a novel by Heimito von Doderer that was named after it.

On Heimito von Doderer′s Novel "Die Strudelhofstiege"

"Die Strudelhofstiege oder Melzer und die Tiefe der Jahre" ("The Strudelhof Staircase or Melzer and the Depth of the Years") was published in 1951, much of the plot is set at or around the Strudelhofstiege. The novel is Heimito von Doderer′s most important work and considered to rank among the most significant pieces of Austrian 20th century literature. It describes the interactions of various people, often around the Strudelhofstiege, over the course of 15 years.

Heimito von Doderer, an old-order, Catholic, Imperial Austrian nobleman who later joined the Nazi Party NSDAP, wrote the novel in a distant, seemingly superficially descriptive manner. Heimito von Doderer′s personal background is the stage for his novel: Vienna′s upper middle-class, educated people with a cosmopolitan attitude, but thoroughly constrained to a small part of Vienna. A dedication to the Strudelhofstiege was taken from the novel and written on a memorial plate:

Heimito von Doderer′s Dedication to Strudelhofstiege:

Wenn die Blätter auf den Stufen liegen
herbstlich atmet aus den alten Stiegen
was vor Zeiten über sie gegangen.
Mond darin sich zweie dicht umfangen
hielten, leichte Schuh und schwere Tritte,
die bemooste Vase in der Mitte
überdauert Jahre zwischen Kriegen.

Viel ist hingesunken uns zur Trauer
und das Schöne zeigt die kleinste Dauer.

Dedication in English:

When the leaves lie on the steps,
Autumn breath arises from the old staircase,
What has walked on it ages ago.
Moon within two closely
Embraced, light shoe and heavy steps,
The mossy vase at its core
Outlives Years between wars.

Much has fallen to our sorrow
And the beautiful lasts the shortest.

Attractions nearby include the district′s museum of Alsergrund, the Josephinum, Berggasse with the Sigmund Freud Museum, the Spanish Hospital, the Palais Liechtenstein and - a bit further - Votivkirche on Ringstraße with the attractions of the first district.

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Vienna by District

District Overview - 1st (Innere Stadt) - 2nd (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd (Landstraße) - 4th (Wieden) - 5th (Margareten) - 6th (Mariahilf) - 7th (Neubau) - 8th (Josefstadt) - 9th (Alsergrund) - 10th (Favoriten) - 11th (Simmering) - 12th (Meidling) - 13th (Hietzing) - 14th (Penzing) - 15th (Fünfhaus) - 16th (Ottakring) - 17th (Hernals) - 18th (Währing) - 19th (Döbling) - 20th (Brigittenau) - 21st (Floridsdorf) - 22nd (Donaustadt) - 23rd (Liesing) -  Ringstraße - Surroundings

Further Reading

Official website of the Vienna Tourist Information

Wikipedia on the Strudelhofstiege in Vienna