For many of us, hearing the travel destination “Vienna” elicits images of operas, Kaffeehäuser, classical music, endless public spaces (thank you former monarchy!) set in the architectural styles of Baroque, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, and Wien Moderne.
These attractions perpetuate this idea that Viennese culture is set in the past. To quell those thoughts, I will be doing a series of blog posts about Wien Moderne i.e. contemporary Viennese culture through architecture!
One of the most ostentatious architectural projects of recent years is the new Wirtschafts Universität (tr. Economics University, WU for short) Campus location near the Prater.
It is truly a campus sprinkled with lots of spaces for students to engage with each other, study spaces, lecture/seminar rooms, libraries, and eating establishments - it serves to act as a little urban village.
Any architectural lover will immediately recognize the striking style of Zaha Hadid when looking at the Library and Learning Centre.
With the main library section cantilevered over the campus, it acts as the gravity pulling the heterogenous architectural styles of the campus into some sort of coherent orbit.
Without such a monumental building, the discord in style of the other buildings creates an “economy of attention.”
One is continuously making decisions on what information to absorb at each location of the campus.
Furthermore, the other styles of the buildings yield to the notion that this contemporary architectural style contrasts the older styles of buildings in Vienna.
Old Vienna’s architecture uses its façade to convey the function of various buildings - we can immediately tell when a building is a church…or the Hofburg Palace (hard to miss).
However, with the WU Campus one would really have to delve a little deeper to find out it is a place of learning if you didn’t already know the location.
The WU Campus is a stark juxtaposition to the more typical landscape of Vienna. If anything, it really helps a visitor to re-evaluate his/her relationship to how they tend to read Vienna from a surface level!
When asking for advice on which Christmas markets to visit in Vienna, like all cities with such a Christmas culture, many people will give all sorts of suggestions and even have strong opinions on their preferred markets.
At first glance, all the markets may appear homogeneous but at different locations. So then, how does one differentiate which ones to attend based considering what one wants from their experience?
Is it your first time in Vienna, your first time at a Christmas market in general, or do you just want a customized guide to help you decide where to go when you’re indecisive?
A standard thing to look for amongst all Christmas markets is glühwein (mulled wine) of various flavors, Weihnachtspunsch (punch with one’s chosen alcohol), warm delicious meats, cheeses and savory snacks to munch on, or handicrafts as gifts or souvenirs.
The main and most Instagrammable Christmas market to check out is at Rathausplatz.
It is arguably the biggest one and uniquely has an ice skating rink in the adjoining park, Rathauspark, having a beautiful lit backdrop to skate against.
In addition, the other large markets are at Kärtner Strasse, Rotenturmstrasse and at the Graben - in close proximity to each other and their large scale allows for more grandiose Christmas lights.
While all the markets are family friendly, there are some in particular that have younger crowds of university students and young professionals.
It is pretty straightforward to know that the Christmas Village at Vienna University Campus falls under this category. The other two Christmas markets are at Spittelberg and at the Museumsquartier (MQ). The MQ market is less tucked away than the Spittelberg one and retains its spot as a meeting and relaxing place.
Despite being crowded, it is disjoint from the surrounding traffic creating an insulating environment for socializing.
Meanwhile the Spittelberg market is one that you would need to seek out, it is harder to stumble across but has a quaint feeling thanks to the distinct and heterogenous architecture.
Hi, I'm Karyna. I love turning Vienna trips into unforgettable experiences.
My only question is: Will it be yours?
I'm here to get you hooked.. On Vienna, it’s contrasts, it’s stories. History may be a science, but making it relatable is an art. My art. For me this all about helping you form a lasting connection with one of Europe’s most thriving, vibrant, and culturally diverse capitals.Learn More