Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A Picnic With Beethoven and Falco

Zentralfriedhof, Vienna 

OK, I realize this may sound a little bizarre. "A day out in a cemetery? Are you kidding?”

But this isn’t just any cemetery. This is Zentralfriedhof in Vienna and it is one of the largest in the world with graves and memorials to some of the world’s finest writers, artists and musicians.

 If you have ever seen that final, long shot which brings Carol Reed’s film ‘The Third Man’ to a poignant close, you will remember that broad, tree-lined avenue through the cemetery.That was filmed in Zentralfriedhof. It is a fascinating place. One of around 50 cemeteries in Vienna, it is situated a little way out, in the district of Simmering but is well worth the trip and is easy to get to using Vienna's efficient public transport system.

With typical Viennese order, the graves of the great and good are laid out in groups. One of the highest accolades the city can give is the award of an ‘Ehrengrab’ (Honorary Grave) and the recipients are grouped so that if you wish to visit famous classical composers you will find them together, or if your preference is for Austrian Presidents post WWII, you’ll find them in the Präsidentengruft (Presidential Crypt).
Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert and Strauss cluster together in Group 32a, while Falco (real name Johannes Hölzel. Remember ‘Rock Me Amadeus’?) has a highly distinctive memorial in Group 40.

Of course, Zentralfriedhof is also the final resting place of thousands of ordinary Viennese. In fact there are over 300,000 graves and 3.3 million interments. Its peaceful walkways and tranquil setting provide a place for quiet contemplation and solace.

Off the beaten track it may be, but it really is worth the journey and will provide a gentle and sensitive contrast with the bustle of the city streets.

Dr. Karl Lueger-Gedächtniskirche, Zentralfriedhof
Getting there: Main entrance (Tor 2), Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234 , 1110 Vienna. The cemetery is served by trams (Strassenbahnen) 71 and 6, bus number 171 and the train (Schnellbahn) S7.


  1. I would love to visit this cemetery! Your pictures are very cool.

  2. Thanks Brinda. It really is an amazing place.