Vienna, 13th District: Hietzing - Part I
The 13th district of Vienna, Hiezting, is a particularly funny one: To me, Hietzing is an "Austrian Empire Theme Park". The main attraction is the Imperial Palace of Schönbrunn. The palace itself was planned by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach in an attempt to beat Versailles near Paris in terms of splendour and magnificence - this never happened, but the existing palace was still impressive enough to make it a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Apart from the palace itself, Schönbrunn has vast parks with all sorts of fancy follies and fountains, the mini-palace Gloriette, the Tiergarten Schönbrunn zoo, the Imperial Greenhouse (Palmenhaus), the Wagenburg as a side-branch of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and a whole bunch of smaller attractions. Therefore, it is not surprising that Schönbrunn is the most-visited attraction in all of Austria - and Hietzing thus draws a lot of touristy attention.
This attention focuses on Schönbrunn itself. This, however, is a mistake - going to see the palace and its surroundings is of course a "must" for every respectable visitor to Vienna, but there is much more to see in Hietzing than "only" the Habsburg′s summer residence. Let me start with some history: Hietzing is located on the Western edge of Vienna, just between the hills of the Vienna Woods (outskirts of the Alps) and the plain of the Wiener Becken.
Some History of Hietzing & Western Vienna
During the Stone Age, the hills of Hietzing were already populated and some of them are important sites of archaeological interest: Flint tools and camps were found, for example, on the top of the local Rosenhügel Hill. The name "Hietzing" is derived from a short version of "village/people of Heinrich" - it was first mentioned in 1130. Since 1253, Hietzing belonged to the monastery of nearby Klosterneuburg.
Throughout the middle ages, Hietzing was a small, agricultural settlement at the site of the current neighbourhood "Althietzing". The surroundings were used for vineyards and orchards - and devastated twice by the Turks in the course of the two Turkish sieges of Vienna. Only after the second siege in 1683, the Habsburgs decided to use the grounds of a destroyed chalet for the construction of a major palace - Schönbrunn.
Flair of Hietzing: The Habsburg Theme Park
The palace was constantly developed throughout the 17th, 18th and early 19th century and Hietzing grew with it. Nobility, officers and high-ranking civil servants needed to be close to the Emperor and over the years, Hietzing became the most aristocratic district in all of Vienna.
To an extent, it still is. Be it Austria′s (officially non-existent) nobility or other breeds of aristocrats: A walk through Hietzing shows you not only the obvious wealth of its residents, but also a fascinating collection of mostly Biedermeier and Gründerzeit villas. The approximately 50,000 residents of the 13th district stand out from most statistics in Vienna: Unusually high income, geriatric tendencies in terms of age, high education, low percentage of foreigners. If the Empire has survived, it now lives in Hietzing.
You can tell immediately if you leave the subway at the stop "Hiezting": You exit at the Kennedybrücke bridge, decorated with the most ridiculous, but enormous eagles, underlining the everlasting power of the Habsburg family and their capitalů some 50 metres down the Wien River, you can see the Hofpavillon, designed by Otto Wagner, as a personal subway-station for the Emperor and his family. Back then, the subway was of course rather a tram and consisted only of part of today′s lines U4 and U6. The Emperor used his personal stop exactly twice.
Continue with "Vienna, 13th District, Hietzing - Part II"
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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)