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Friday, November 1, 2013

Morbid Vienna - Widow Express to Necropolis

You might have heard that Vienna and the Viennese have their special relationship to death - some say it is an obsession. This is not only because Vienna has Europe's biggest cemetary, but tradition dates back to the Hapsburg era and beyond to the age of Baroque. The high time of celebrating funerals was in the late 19th century, when the 'beautiful funeral' was the event at the end... It often was pompous and expensive, including musicians, choirs and horse carriages. These days funeral processions made their way through the city centre in the evenings, with flickering candles casting their orange light through the streets, and then continuing on to the newly built Central Cemetary.
This Central Cemetary was founded in 1874 by Emperor Franz Joseph I outside the city limits of Vienna. It is of huge dimensions, designed for a Vienna of more than 4 million inhabitants (which was the forecast for the end of the millenium at that time). Today this Vienna necropolis hosts more than 3 million 'inhabitants' - and the traditional way to go there is by tram no. 71, the socalled widow express - you guess why...
If you are interested in the morbid side if Vienna, the Central Cemetary is a must. You might be scared by the shere size of it, but don't worry, it even has its own bus system. But there are more places, historically relevant, interesting or merely bizarre: St.Marx Cemetary with Mozart's grave (although the exact location is unknown), the Biedermeier style Cemetary in Waehring, the old Jewish Cemetary in Rossau, as well as the famous Capuchins crypt and the St.Stephens Cathedral's catacombs. Still not enough? Well, there is more to see, for example Vienna's Funeral Museum or the Vienna Crime Museum.

Ok, back to life then...

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