Vienna, 17th District: Hernals
Hernals is a funny one. The 17th district is a bit like a city in the city in the sense that it has good areas in the West, bad areas in the East, intermediate areas in between and all of them have no real personality whatsoever. If you ask a Viennese to describe any district in Vienna, they will assign the touristy and upper-class flair to the first district, the proletarian pride to Ottakring and imperial nostalgia to Hietzing - only Hernals seems to lack an essence, the few phrases to catch its spirit.
Hernals is: 11.35 square kilometres (medium size), has a population of approximately 50,000 (about average for a district of Vienna), access to the Als (the second river of Vienna after the Wien) and the residents are socially and ethnically mixed. Some are junkies (mostly near the Gürtel in the East of Hernals), others doctors in the general hospital (mostly in the villas near the Wienerwald in the West of Hernals). Hernals has access to the most polluted and crowded areas of Vienna, as well as some nature reserves.
Just like all the sub-suburbs ("Vororte" - the villages outside the Linienwall or second city walls and on contrast to the "Vorstädte" or suburbs between the second and the main city walls), Hernals became part of Vienna in 1892. Back then, Hernals was not only the most densely populated district, it had also been the most populous city of Lower Austria. It had churches and market squares and labourer′s houses and probably as little personality as it has today. Which is not a bad thing, but not a particularly good thing either.
Hernals: The District of Indifference
During the so-called "civil war" between conservative and socialist forces in 1934, most labourer districts in Vienna temporarily turned into battle grounds. Hernals had a few fights, but nothing terribly serious. On various occasions, theatres were founded in Hernals - for example, in 1848, when an out-post of the Theater in der Josefstadt was opened. The "Josefstadt" had been closed because of the revolution, which - you might have guessed it - did not affect Hernals at all.
A few years later, the theatre was closed again. The same thing happened in 1948. Today, there is the "Wiener Metropol" and the "Kulisse Wien", no real theatres, but smaller stages for musicals and cabaret. Nothing to shout about, though. I could go on, but this is getting pathetic - just accept that Hernals has the taste of pure water, the smell of nitrogen, the sound of a falling tree when nobody listens.
Hernals Sightseeing: "Attractions" of the 17th
In terms of sightseeing, the story continues in a similar manner: There are no real attractions, but then again, a few thing are actually a bit interesting. The district of indifference has a museum, dedicated to two local heroes, the Schrammel brothers. They were great innovators of the Viennese folk song, which is reasonably interesting. The Heurigen taverns and vineyards where the Schrammel brothers sung their songs have almost disappeared from Hernals today (some few are left, though). The brothers now even have their own memorial in Hernals.
The palace of Schloss Neuwaldegg is supplemented with a park - both things are actually quite nice (although Vienna has more impressive palaces and parks to offer). There are some other parks and more access to the Vienna Woods.
The most interesting sight is probably the Kalvarienbergkirche Church, a Baroque church with a Calvary hill, on which pilgrims or other worshippers can follow the passion of Christ. This is probably as much passion as you will see anywhere in Hernals. There is an open-air pool, the Jörgerbad; a few other churches and chapels, such as the Redemptoristenkirche Church or the Dornbacher Pfarrkirche; and some minor museums. Oh, and I once went to a BBQ in Hernals. I think that is pretty much what I have to say about the 17th districtů
back to "vienna travel guide"
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)