Altes Rathaus, Maria am Gestade,
Ruprechtskirche & Bermudadreieck

Maria am Gestade, a Gothic church in Vienna widely neglected by tourists. Sadly so.

If you walk from the Judenplatz towards Wipplingerstraße, you will get to a pale yellow building in decent Baroque of the 18th century (on contrast to the indecent neo-Classical madness of the Ringstraße). This is the "Altes Rathaus" or the "Old City Hall" which provided the magistrate of Vienna with administrative space until 1885, when it finally moved into the current Rathaus. The building still houses all sorts of administrative offices, though, alongside with one of Austria′s best-hidden museums.

For no reason, though: The "Austrian Resistance Museum" deals primarily with resistance of Austrians against the Nazis, but to a lesser extent also with resistance against the preceding Austro-Fascism. Some 2,700 Austrians were executed by the Nazis is political offenders, thousands more deported to concentration camps.

The museum seems somewhat badly funded and underdeveloped considering that it should hold a significant position in Austria′s history. After all, the persistence of the Austrian resistance was one of the reasons why Austria could re-gain its sovereignty in 1955 after only 10 years of allied occupation. Anyway, for an in-depth meeting with Austrian history, I can warmly recommend the museum - and be it for the friendly volunteers that serve there.

Austrian Resistance Museum

Associated is the "Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes", an archive and research facility that publishes reports on right-wing activities in Austria (among other things). On the way out, not the fountain in the courtyard, designed by the famous Baroque artist Georg Raphael Donner whose works include the fountain figures of Donner Brunnen at the Neuer Markt Square.

Behind the Altes Rathaus, you can find the Gothic church Maria am Gestade. Its tower top is quite famous in Vienna, symbolising the crown of the Virgin Mary. The original church was ancient and surely an impressive building in 1809. That year, however, French troops under the rule of Napoleon used it as an arms depot and the Medieval church burnt down.

When it was re-built, the Viennese opted for the neo-Gothic style you can see now. Not the nicest church of Vienna, but I have seen worse. Try to see the tower at night, when its top is light from inside making it something like a lantern.

Vienna′s Oldest Church & the Nightclub District

Not far from Maria am Gestade is the Bermudadreieck (Bermuda Triangle), as Vienna′s party and binge drinking district is known as since the 1980ies. The audience consists primarily of children of retired ex-yuppies on the verge of becoming yuppies themselves but not quite there yet. A more interesting feature of the Bermudadreieck is the "Ruprechtskirche", probably the oldest church of Vienna (maybe the Peterskirche′s core is even older).

The Ruprechtskirche′s plain architecture adds credibility to the age-claim. However, the church was re-modelled repeatedly over the course of the centuries and little is left of the 8th century origins. The church is still in use as a place of worship with services being celebrated here alongside with rather expensive concerts.

Other nearby attractions include the "Am Hof" Square with its sights, the Stadttempel (main synagogue), the Stock Exchange, the Hoher Markt with the Ankeruhr Clock, the Stephansdom and the Old University District.

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Further Reading

Complete List of the Mayors of Vienna

Wikipedia on Maria am Gestade

Official Website of Maria am Gestade

Ruprechtskirche in Vienna

Official Website of the Ruprechtskirche