Going Out, Dine & Wine in Vienna
Some of the nicest neighbourhoods of Vienna can be found in the 7th district or Neubau. The 7th is the heartland of Vienna′s pronounced bobo-culture ("BOhemian BOurgoise"), which you can easily see from the many small galleries, health food stores, and alternative - but often pricy - boutiques. The seventh is the district of the creative industries, the MuseumsQuartier, of interior design stores. The district of Mac-users, chicken-in-penthouse-breeders, alternative fashion designers, Green-party-voters, vegetable-basket-subscription-holders. And the 7th district is home to the Spittelberg, a neighbourhood of mostly Biedermeier houses from the early 19th century.
The Spittelberg is a fashionable area for going out in Vienna and popular with Bobos, students and those tourists that want to get beyond the first district (a small minority, but hopefully the readership of TourMyCountry.com). The Spittelberg is well-known for its narrow cobble-street lanes, small houses and uniform, village-like appearance.
It even has its own village square with a village well, the centre of the Spittelberg Christmas Market that is held here between late November and the 24th of December. The Spittelberg is full of arts and crafts shops, as well as boutiques on one hand, and bars, restaurants and inns on the other. If you apply a generous definition to the area, it spreads out down Siebensterngasse and around the lanes near St. Ulrich church, too.
Spittelberg Restaurants, Inns, Bars: Going out in Vienna
A few words on the history of the Spittelberg: In 1525, the area was purchased by the Bürgerspital, a hospital that gave its name to the neighbourhood - Spittelberg means "Hospital Hill". The area was used for agricultural purposes well into the 17th century. After 1675, Sigmund Freiherr von Kirchberg was the landlord of the Spittelberg, which developed into a village with a pridominantly Croatian population. The village was demolished in 1683 in the course of the Second Siege of Vienna through the Ottoman Empire. First by withdrawing Austrians who wanted to destroy potential hides and shelters for the Turks, then by the very Turks themselves.
In the end, barely a house of the Spittelberg had survived. Nevertheless, the cellars of the Spittelberg houses even today often pre-date 1683. The village was rebuilt after the defeat of the Turks and earned itself a dubious reputation as a place for shabby inns and brothels. In 1850, the Spittelberg became part of Vienna, combined with other neighbourhoods into the district of Neubau. Until WWII, the area remained known as a red light district (a claim that could now be applied to many sections of the Gürtel).
I myself have an acquaintance who was a student in Vienna the 1970ies who told me that nobody wanted to live there back then: The houses were wet and mouldy, the streets not very safe and walls had to be supported by metal poles to prevent them from collapsing. By the 1970ies, the city of Vienna finally wanted to demolish the area and replace the old houses with modern office and apartment blocks.
Gentrification of the Spittelberg, Vienna
A citizen movement suddenly realised that the Spittelberg was at risk. They organised meetings, signed petitions, eventually even squatted at a house they wanted to save. Eventually, the city gave in and changed its policy into a "gentle revival" of the Spittelberg. In the 1980ies and 1990ies, students and artists moved in and gave the Spittelberg today′s reputation as a hip and alternative place.
Since approximately 2000, the area has been thoroughly "gentrified", it is now too expensive for normal students and artists. The art workshops have changed into arts and crafts galleries, the students into young professionals. Nevertheless, the Spittelberg is a charming area and I am glad that its atmosphere is now spreading into other parts of the 7th district.
Attractions nearby the Spittelberg are the previously mentioned MuseumsQuartier and the Kirche St. Ulrich. Note also the Stiftskaserne with the Flak Tower, the Volkstheater, Palais Trautson, the Justizpalast and the twins of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Naturhistorisches Museum. The Mariahilferstraße is not far, either.
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Vienna by District
District Overview - 1st (Innere Stadt) - 2nd (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd (Landstraße) - 4th (Wieden) - 5th (Margareten) - 6th (Mariahilf) - 7th (Neubau) - 8th (Josefstadt) - 9th (Alsergrund) - 10th (Favoriten) - 11th (Simmering) - 12th (Meidling) - 13th (Hietzing) - 14th (Penzing) - 15th (Fünfhaus) - 16th (Ottakring) - 17th (Hernals) - 18th (Währing) - 19th (Döbling) - 20th (Brigittenau) - 21st (Floridsdorf) - 22nd (Donaustadt) - 23rd (Liesing) - Ringstraße - Surroundings