Vienna, Second District: The "Leopoldstadt"
There is a German saying that goes "Reif für die Insel" - it means "done for the island" and you use it to express that you are very exhausted and ready to take a vacation on some fancy island. In Vienna, you have an opportunity to live on an island and still be in a very central area of the city.
The second district is situated on an island between the Danube and the the Donaukanal canal. It is very well-connected to the first district, yet it is popular with immigrants and students due to low prices for real estate. In terms of sightseeing, the opportunities are limited - but there are a few things that do justify a visit.
Let me start in the north: The Augarten is one of Vienna′s finest Baroque parks. You can′t avoid noticing the two massive concrete Flak towers in the Augarten: They were built by the Nazis to defend Vienna against air-raids during WWII. There are two more of these couples behind the Museumsquartier in the sixth and seventh district (one of them houses the "Haus des Meeres" aquarium).
Leopoldstadt Sights: Augarten & Karmelitermarkt
Now, the two towers could not prevent large areas of the second districts to be seriously blown to pieces and this explains the rather large percentage of moderately attractive buildings (and the relatively low cost of real estate) in this part of the second district. In the Augarten, you can find two institutions of national acclaim: The Augarten porcelain manufactory and the headquarter of the "Wiener Sängerknaben" or Vienna Boys′ Choir at Palais Augarten.
Both are situated in buildings that are generally not open to the public, so picking up chestnuts and throwing them at squirrels is the best thing you can do in the Augarten (at least this is what I used to do when I went there). Nearby, you will also find the neo-Classical Palais Grassalkovics.
For proper sightseeing, move southwards. That way you will get to the Carmelite Church (Karmeliterkirche), a pretty and recently refurbished baroque church supplemented by a market. The "Karmelitermarkt" is at the centre of the former Jewish quarter. In recent years, many Eastern European Jews have moved to this part of Vienna and re-vived the tradition of Jewish culture in the second district. Nearby is the Produktenbörse (Corn Exchange) and the Kirche St. Leopold.
Jewish Heritage of the Second District
This is also the reason why the Leopodstadt is also called "Matzo Island". It was here where many Viennese Jews were gathered before their deportation to concentration camps in the course of the Holocaust - there is a memorial site at a school where this happened. Today, the Karmelitermarkt is once again full of kosher food stores and restaurants. Nearby, you can also see the neo-Classicist Produktenbörse corn exchange building.
Moving even further south, you will get into other famous area of the second district: The Prater. Contrary to popular (even Austrian) believe, the Prater is much more than the tacky carnival fair / Luna park type of place in its north. This area is in fact called "Volksprater" or "Wurstelprater" and occupies only a small fraction of the Prater area. It originally consisted of Habsburg hunting grounds and was later (in the 18th century under the rule of the reformist Emperor Joseph II) opened to the general public for the sake of recreation. A good starting point is the Praterstern and Venediger Au.
Prater: Ferris wheel, Stadion & Vast Parks
Recreation is still a big deal in the Prater: Be it through the park area for jogging or walking a dog, be it through the "Ernst-Happl"-football stadium, be it through the illegal street prostitution that attracts junkie-teenagers as well as all sorts of perverts. There is a golf course, two horse race courses (the Trabrennbahn Krieau and the Galopprennbahn Freudenau), lakes such as the Heustadelwasser, and general greenery such as the Prater Hauptallee, the Konstantinhügel, Jesuitenwiese or the Heustadelwasser. Ideal for walks and recreation; note the Classicist Lusthaus at the centre of this park area.
The most famous attraction of the Prater is the Ferris wheel, the "Wiener Riesenrad", spinning since 1897. It will provide you with excellent vistas on the second district and other parts of Vienna. There is a large number of hotels in the second district - partly because it is so close to the historic city centre of the first district, but partly also because of the "Messe Wien", the convention centre. It is situated nearby the Würstelprater. A bit further north you find the enormous Kirche am Mexikoplatz.
Note that prostitution is generally legal in Austria - but not if it concerns 13-year-old drug addicts that sell themselves on a backstreet.
This used to be an issue of the Stuwerviertel
in particular, although the secene now seems to move more towards the Messe
Wien, the southern Handelskai and beyond.
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Sightseeing Guides to Vienna′s Districts
District Overview - 1st District (Innere Stadt) - 2nd District (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd District (Landstraße) - 4th District (Wieden) - 5th District (Margareten) - 6th District (Mariahilf) - 7th District (Neubau) - 8th District (Josefstadt) - 9th District (Alsergrund) - 10th District (Favoriten) - 11th District (Simmering) - 12th District (Meidling) - 13th District (Hietzing) - 14th District (Penzing) - 15th District (Fünfhaus) - 16th District (Ottakring) - 17th District (Hernals) - 18th District (Währing) - 19th District (Döbling) - 20th District (Brigittenau) - 21st District (Floridsdorf) - 22nd District (Donaustadt) - 23rd District (Liesing)