Even though the calendar still tells us it’s winter, spring was in the air. Probably a sign of global warming but so nice to have a warm and sunny day in February. I asked a friend to come with me to the Zentralfriedhof and she declined because it’s to gloomy. But far from it on this sunny day. It’s actually glorious to walk around and peep at old graves. So here we go with another walk around Vienna.
The name Zentralfriendhof (central cemetery) misleads a bit. The graveyard sits, despite its name, on the outskirts of Vienna. When it was clear that the cemeteries within the city wouldn’t suffice, urban planners of the 19th century decided to think big. Vienna was estimated to hold 4mio inhabitants by the end of the 20th century. Of course this was before the collapse of the Empire. Nowadays we hold at about 2mio people.
So this rather too big cemetery is now a resting place for all confessions. There is a corner for Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants, Russian Orthodox, and of course Catholics. War victims of different nations, a baby corner, and honorary dignitaries are interred here. The Zentralfriedhof is a place for big and small, and it’s also a wonderful park if you don’t have delicate feelings.
Instead of an ambitious plan of traversing the whole area, I settle on strolling through the lower right hand section. It’s the old Jewish part and a bit of the honorary section. In any case it’s the historic part of the cemetery which makes it a really pleasant experience. I love old stuff. Like this elegant mausoleum.
Or this other mausoleum which looks like a small chapel.
Walking between the graves has very calming effect. It’s quiet here and the sun is shining. There is nothing unnerving about the many graves all around. If anything it is tranquil and peaceful. A great spot to quiet the mind and keep the busy everyday life behind for a moment. But only if you don’t fear the dead.
Even in death there is a lot of individualism. Some graves and headstones just look like the next one. And some are decorated and unique. Especially the older ones looked really decked out, while others had a clear message.
The church within the cemetery is dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo and looks older than it is. It is just a little over 100 years old, but that’s what makes the inside so fascinating. The Art Noveau style inside is distinctive and turns the church into a unique gem.
Years ago I had a friend from Canada visiting me who wanted to see the cemetery. I was gobsmacked, because why would you go there on your first visit to Vienna. But after seeing it now, I can at least relate to this wish. Definitely a spot you should seek out. Yours, Pollybert