Vienna Photos: Narrenturm in the Altes AKH Campus

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The Narrenturm was a late 18th century hospital for mentally ill

I chose the picture above because it looks a bit like a Constable painting; it shows the Narrenturm, a late 18th century "hospital" for mentally ill people. It was built in the spirit of enlightenment and under the rule of Emperor Joseph II as part of the "Allgemeines Krankenhaus" or general hospital of Vienna. Back in the days, it was the world′s biggest hospital and a very modern facility.

The Narrenturm sits at the centre of a very extensive campus with several courtyards, the so-called "Altes AKH". The "Altes" ("old") refers to the fact that in the 1970ies, the current AKH hospital moved to the nearby twin-towers by the Gürtel road. The campus was then used by the university and in 1998, much of the Altes AKH was refurbished and transformed into a commercial area. Today, it is popular with people in need for some green and a studenty atmosphere.

There are bars and some shops and the Medical University of Vienna still uses parts of the premises for lectures. During the weeks between mid-November and Christmas, a very popular Christmas market is held in the Altes AKH. By the way, the Narrenturm is often called the "Guglhupf", referring to the ultimate Austrian cake which looks a bit like it.