Vienna

Most of Vienna lies roughly within an arc of a circle with the straight line of the Danube Canal as its chord. The most prestigious address of the city's 23 Bezirke, or districts, is its heart, the Innere Stadt ("Inner City"), or 1st District, bounded by the Ringstrasse (Ring). It's useful to note that the fabled 1st District holds the vast majority of sightseeing attractions and once comprised the entire city. In 1857 Emperor Franz Josef decided to demolish the ancient wall surrounding the city to create the more cosmopolitan Ringstrasse, the multilane avenue that still encircles the expansive heart of Vienna. At that time several small villages bordering the inner city were given district numbers and incorporated into Vienna. Today the former villages go by their official district numbers, but sometimes they are also referred to by their old village or neighborhood names.

The circular 1st District is bordered on its northeastern section by the Danube Canal and 2nd District, and clockwise from there along the Ringstrasse by the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th districts. The 2nd District—Leopoldstadt—is home to the venerable Prater amusement park with its Riesenrad (Ferris wheel), as well as a huge park used for horseback riding and jogging. Along the southeastern edge of the 1st District is the 3rd District—Landstrasse—containing the Belvedere Palace and the fabulously quirky Hundertwasser Museum (Kunsthauswien). Extending from its southern tip, the 4th District, Wieden, is firmly established as one of Vienna's hip areas, with trendy restaurants, art galleries, and shops, plus Vienna's biggest outdoor market, the Naschmarkt, which is lined with dazzling Jugendstil buildings.

The southwestern 6th District, Mariahilf, includes the largest shopping street, Mariahilferstrasse, which the city has recently designated a pedestrian-friendly zone. Independent stores compete with international chains, smart restaurants, movie theaters, bookstores, and department stores. Directly west of the 1st District is the 7th District, Neubau. Besides the celebrated Kunsthistorisches Museum and headline-making MuseumsQuartier, the 7th District also houses the charming Spittelberg quarter, its cobblestone streets lined with beautifully preserved 18th-century houses. Moving up the western side you come to the 8th District, Josefstadt, which is known for its theaters, upscale restaurants, and antiques shops. Completing the circle surrounding the Innere Stadt on its northwest side is the 9th District, Alsergrund, once Sigmund Freud's neighborhood and today a nice residential area with lots of outdoor restaurants, curio shops, and lovely early-20th-century apartment buildings.

The other districts—the 5th, and the 10th through the 23rd—form a concentric second circle around the 2nd through 9th Districts. These are mainly residential and only a few hold sights of interest for tourists. The 11th District, Simmering, contains one of Vienna's architectural wonders, Gasometer, a former gasworks that has been remodeled into a housing and shopping complex. The 13th District, Hietzing, with the fabulous Schönbrunn Palace as its centerpiece, is also a coveted residential area. The 19th District, Döbling, is Vienna's poshest neighborhood and also bears the nickname the "Noble District" because of all the embassies on its chestnut-tree-lined streets. The 19th District also incorporates several other neighborhoods within its borders, in particular the wine villages of Grinzing, Sievering, Nussdorf, and Neustift am Walde. The 22nd District, Donaustadt, now called Donau City, is a modern business and shopping complex that has grown around the United Nations center. The 22nd District also has several fantastic stretches for sunbathing along Alte Donau (Old Danube), with waterside cafés nearby.

It may be helpful to know the neighborhood names of other residential districts: the 5th/Margareten; 10th/Favoriten; 12th/Meidling; 14th/Penzing; 15th/Fünfhaus; 16th/Ottakring; 17th/Hernals; 18th/Währing; 20th/Brigittenau; 21st/Floridsdorf; and 23rd/Liesing.

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  • 1. Haus der Musik

    1st District | Museum/Gallery

    You could spend an entire day at this ultra-high-tech museum, housed on several floors of an early-19th-century palace near Schwarzenbergplatz...Read More

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  • 2. Mozarthaus

    1st District | Museum/Gallery

    This is Mozart's only still-existing abode in Vienna, with three floors of displays about his life and the masterworks that he composed here...Read More

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  • 3. Stephansdom

    1st District | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Vienna's soaring centerpiece, this beloved cathedral enshrines the heart of the city—although when first built in the 12th century it stood...Read More

  • 4. Blutgasse District

    1st District | Historic District/Site

    Today this block, bounded by Singerstrasse, Grünangergasse, and Blutgasse, is a splendid example of city renovation and restoration, with cafés...Read More

  • 5. Dominikanerkirche

    1st District | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The Postgasse, to the east of Schönlaterngasse, introduces this unexpected visitor from Rome, built in the 1630s, some 50 years before the Viennese...Read More

  • 6. Finanzministerium

    1st District | Government Building

    The architectural jewel of Himmelpfortgasse, this imposing abode—designed by Fischer von Erlach in 1697 and later expanded by Hildebrandt—was...Read More

  • 7. Griechenbeisl

    1st District | Restaurant

    If you want to find a nook where time seems to be holding its breath, head to the heart of the old town, where the Fleischmarkt (Meat Market...Read More

  • 8. Heiligenkreuzerhof

    1st District | Plaza/Square

    Off the narrow streets and alleys behind the Stephansdom is this peaceful spot, approximately ½ km (¼ mile) from the cathedral. The beautiful...Read More

  • 9. Himmelpfortgasse

    1st District | Neighborhood/Street

    The maze of tiny streets surrounding Himmelpfortgasse (literally, "Gates of Heaven Street") conjures up the Vienna of the 19th century. The...Read More

  • 10. Schönlaterngasse

    1st District | Neighborhood/Street

    Once part of Vienna's medieval Latin Quarter, Schönlaterngasse is the main artery of a historic neighborhood that has blossomed in recent years...Read More

  • 11. Universitätskirche

    1st District | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The church was built around 1630. Its flamboyant Baroque interior contains a fine trompe-l'oeil ceiling fresco by Andrea Pozzo, the master of...Read More

  • 12. Wagner Werk Museum Postsparkasse

    1st District | Museum/Gallery

    One of modern architecture's greatest curiosities, the Post Office Savings Bank was designed in 1904 by Otto Wagner, whom many consider the...Read More

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