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Tails From the Vienna Woods

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Gemeindebau

Gemeindebau in Ottakring

My Kunst am Bau wander through Vienna’s 16th district reads almost like a tale of three cities.

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Gemeindebau in Mariahilf

I write that this was not a terribly interesting walkabout.

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Gemeindebau in Meidling

Meidling is Vienna’s 12th district. Nothing in particular stands out about the district, but the district, like all others, has Kunst am Bau.  My only other visit to Meidling was on a snowy day, to tour the more-interesting-than-you-might-think, Museum of Heating Culture.

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Gemeindebau in Hernals

With an agenda-free day on the calendar I thought to revisit my version of treasure hunting, seeking out the Kunst am Bau that decorates some of the city’s public housing construction. Until I actually tallied the blog posts I thought I was nearly finished with this little project, but, no, there are two districts still in draft and a half dozen or so waiting to be explored. Well, then.

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Gemeindebau in Währing

This post is really more like the second half of my walk through Währing, Vienna’s 18th district. In the spring of 2015 I paid a visit to Kutschkermarkt, Währing’s farmer’s market, with a little wandering about for good measure. Little did I know at the time that Währing would become our new home!

A couple of weeks ago, inspired by an article I had read about Vienna’s “Best Knacker” at Fleischerei Bauer near our house, Anna Grace and I decided to combine a Gemeindebau walk with a “Best Knacker” lunch.

“Good Boy!”

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Gemeindebau in Brigittenau

Brigittenau, Vienna’s 20th district, lies to the northeast of the Inner Stadt, on the old island between the Danube Canal and River.  As city districts go, I found my walkabout here to contain a higher concrete-green space ratio than other districts (rebuilds following WWII destruction); that, combined with the overcast skies, made the district seem a bit forlorn. I should perhaps return on a cheerier weather day.

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Leopoldstadt, the Replay

Through conversations with friends who were intrigued with my Gemeindebau roaming, I was asked if I would lead a walk through one of Vienna’s districts for one of the local women’s groups, and on Tuesday our group of 10 wandered about Leopoldstadt, the city’s second district (Bezirk).
Though I have explored Leopoldstadt previously, in my preparation I discovered a few art pieces that I had missed–a bonus for me!  Our walk began with a peek at St. Francis of Assisi Church (or, the Kaiser Jubilee Church, as it was constructed on the 50th anniversary of the Emperor’s reign.)
Then, onto the art. “Children Playing,” in case that was not obvious.  Pretty glass tiles.

Wauchauer Hof.

At Tempelgasse, a mosaic depicting Vienna’s largest synagogue, Leopoldstadter Tempel, destroyed on Kristallnacht 1938.

On this site in Vienna a very famous German circus took place for over 100 years. The mosaic was restored in 2002 and sparkled even on our gray day.

A scene from one of several Prater mosaics in the city.

A tile mosaic of the walled city of Vienna in 1699, with Stephansdom rising prominently.

In addition to the nearby 8 kilometers of walking and talking, the donations collected will be directed to a local charity. A superb way to spend a day!

Gemeindebau in Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus

What a fun change compared to my tour of Favoriten last week, Vienna’s 10th district of artistically dull offerings!  If there is a “Melting Pot” in Vienna, it is the city’s 15th district, Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus, so named in part for Crown Prince Rudolf, Archduke of Austria and heir apparent, until the suicide-pact with his mistress out in the Vienna Woods in 1889, that is.
The 15th district is home to the largest percentage of non-Viennese, around 35%, with many having origins in the Balkans and points further east. Thus, it stands to reason that one could order a Polish beer at “Cafe Barcelona;” pick up South Tirolean meats at a Turkish grocer; grab lunch at the new Romanian restaurant; or simply walk into a storefront that is “Open.”

And for the youngest newcomers there is Kindergarten “Al Moustafa,” with language instruction in German, English, Arabic, and Islam. Take it from me: learning the Arabic language is hard as a 40-something. I am certain even the preschoolers speak more fluently than I!
But onto the Kunst am Bau, my primary reason for the outing.  With a willing teenage partner along (mostly because of the promise of lunch), off we set.

A reference to one of the Turkish sieges.
Two 1970’s constructions had era-specific art. Groovy!

 We walked down “Braunhirshengasse,” the Brown Deer Passage. Makes perfect sense.

We also walked down Grimmgasse, so named for the Brothers Grimm, who never spent any time in Vienna. Makes no sense whatsoever.

We loved our outing to Vienna’s melting pot, though a lunch spot was a little hard to come by. Good newcomers to Vienna’s 15th district, may I humbly suggest opening an Albanian/Polish/Macedonian/Turkish/Georgian/Azerbaijani or similar eatery?  We’ll be sure to return.

Gemeindebau in Favoriten

Beautiful spring day and a willing teenage partner, so off we set for Favoriten, Vienna’s 10th district that lies to the south of the Inner Stadt.  Our travels mainly took us to areas that were culturally diverse but architecturally monotonous, with lots and lots of interwar and post-war block housing. Perhaps there is more to the district, though we did not see it.
Something we have not seen before, a Spinnerin am Kreuz, or piety column (and former execution site, we learned). It seemed out of place against the backdrops of passing traffic and the gigantic George Washington Hof.
During the construction of this public housing unit, numerous skulls of hanged victims from the nearby Spinnerin am Kreuz execution site were discovered. Anyone queueing Poltergeist on Netflix right now?
A shadow of times gone by, when the larger public housing units were like small cities in and of themselves. “Lebensmittel” loosely translates to “Grocer.”
Still today, however, many of Vienna’s larger public housing complexes have Kindergartens. This entrance is particularly charming. 
It’s not a Gemeindebau outing if I don’t spy socialist art. 
The Gemeindebau Mannekin Pis? 
One of the prettiest courtyards we spotted. The keen observer will note that one is not authorized to have any fun at all in the courtyard, a much-too-common sight, we discovered.
As lunchtime was approaching we found the first of several pretty Kunst am Bau. 

Our last point of interest yielded a pensive lady, or perhaps she was sad because no one was permitted to walk on the grass beneath her feet. 
Finding lunch in Favoriten, outside of Austrian or Turkish fare was a little challenging (at least where we were). Thankfully OmNom Burgers was but a few tram stops away (in an adjacent district) to feed our hunger with what we declared were the best “American” patties we’ve found so far here in Wien.  No stale Semmel or dried sesame seed roll; and no weird “American-style” sauce. Just Yum. OmNom.

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