Augarten in Wien
The Augarten is a 52.2 hectare public park in Leopoldstadt, the second district of Vienna, Austria. It contains the oldest Baroque gardens of the city.
To the north, the Augarten borders on the Northern Railway line while to the south it faces the so-called Karmeliterviertel ("Carmelite quarter" ). To the northwest and northeast of the park, its wall marks the boundary to the 20th district of Vienna, Brigittenau.
The park is designed in the French Baroque style with an elaborate flower garden landscape and vast, shady avenues of chestnut, lime, ash, and maple trees. As is the case with most federal parks and gardens in Vienna, access to the Augarten is limited to daytime activities as its five gates close at sundown (signaled by a siren).
The Augarten hosts a variety of facilities such as the Wiener Sängerknaben (the Vienna Boys' Choir) in the Palais Augarten, the Augarten Porzellanmanufaktur ("Augarten Porcelain Factory"), Augarten Contemporary (part of the Österreichische Gallerie Belvedere, the Austrian Gallery housed in the Belvedere), the Filmarchiv Austria, a retirement home, a Jewish campus, a children's pool, and sports fields.
There are also two places to eat in the park, the Bunkerei (partially housed in an old bunker) and those belonging to the Filmarchiv, as well as two catered establishments, one of which is in the Atelier Augarten.
The Baroque park, the palace, and the remaining part of the original wall of the Augarten, dating from the early 18th century, have been listed since 2000.
In 1614, Emperor Matthias had a small hunting lodge built in what was then called the Wolfsau, at the time a flood plain ("Au" is an Austrian and southern German term for a riparian forest or flood plain). Around 1650, Ferdinand III bought up the area around the nearby Tabor, an initial outpost before the final approach to Vienna's city walls. He established a formal Dutch garden and expanded the hunting lodge to a small mansion. In the 1660s, Leopold I acquired the adjacent gardens from the noble Trautson family and created an all-encompassing baroque pleasure park. In 1677 he converted the Trautsons' garden mansion into a small palace (a so-called Lustschloss), to which he gave the name "Imperial Favorita". Later on the name "Old Favorita" established itself in its stead.
1683 was a bad year for Vienna and the Augarten: during the course of the Turkish siege the grounds and buildings were destroyed in their entirety, with only parts of the walls remaining. Not until 1705 were the gardens and the palace restored under Emperor Joseph I. The garden palais built at this time is now the headquarters of the [Augarten Porzellanmanufaktur] (Augarten Porcelain Manufacturer), the second oldest porcelain manufacturer in Europe. A few years later, in the year 1712, the new regent Charles VI instructed the landscape architect Jean Trehet, the creator of the gardens of Schönbrunn and the Belvedere, to realize new plans for a more complex park and gardens in the French style. Today's Augarten is largely based in form on this incarnation
After the opening of the Vienna Prater to the public in the year 1766, the Augarten was also opened on the 1st of May, 1775, by Joseph II. On this occasion nightingales were released and the hunting of them made an offense. The entrance at that time was still guarded by the military, while inside the park invalids and handicapped people maintained order. The inscription Allen Menschen gewidmeter Erlustigungs-Ort von Ihrem Schaetzer ("A place of amusement dedicated to all people by their Cherisher") can still be read at the main gate to the Augarten which leads to the Augarten Palace. In order to meet the expectations of this credo, dining and dance halls, refreshment and billiard rooms were established as well, for which the traiteur Ignaz Jahn was responsible.
During the disastrous flooding which afflicted Vienna from February 1 to March 1 of 1830, the entire Augarten was flooded to a height of 1.75 meters (roughly 5.7 feet). Two memorial plaques, one of them on the inner side of the main portal and one at the gate by Castellezgasse, serve as reminders of this event. With the regulation of the Danube from 1860 to 1870, the Augarten was separated from the river forever. The former riparian forest and plain thus became a cultural landscape no longer threatened by periodic floods.
Between 1934 and 1936, the then Federal Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg lived at the Palais Augarten. Toward the end of WWII war strategists selected the strategically placed Augarten as a site for the construction of several massive flak towers to protect the city center from Allied air raids. In the summer of 1944 the construction of one battle tower with a height of 55 meters (roughly 180 feet) and a leader tower with a height of 51 meters (roughly 167 feet) was begun, their bizarre appearance in the middle of the park having since become an integrate part of the Augarten. The construction associated with the building of the towers (16 lines of rail track, large barracks for construction workers, etc.) took a serious toll on the landscaping of the park. Also during the war hundreds of cubic meters of rubble were dumped on the site while armored vehicles criss-crossed the garden and supposed mass graves were dug in which hundreds of war victims were buried. However, except for the virtually indestructible flak towers and the bunker (in which a restaurant is housed) nothing from this period remains.
As early as 1772, so-called Morgenkonzerte ("morning concerts") were conducted or played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. These took place in the Garden Hall of the Palais Augarten, but the house was also used for many other festivals and concerts. The morning concerts were for a time conducted exclusively by Mozart himself, then alternated between different conductors until 1795 when the management of the concerts was transferred to the famous violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh. Ludwig van Beethoven also had several of his works performed under the direction of Schuppanzigh.
In the years 1820 to 1847, the 1st of May concerts also took place in the Garden Hall, where mainly works by Johann Strauss (father) were presented. Works by Franz Schubert were also performed here. He gave concerts there as early as the late 18th century and his music served the amusement of the people for the celebrations both during and after the Congress of Vienna.
Since 1998, the meadow in front of the battle tower is home (in the summer months of July and August) to an open-air cinema by the name of "Kino Unter den Sternen" ("Cinema Beneath the Stars").
Facilities in the Augarten
Since 1948, the Wiener Sängerknaben (Vienna Boys' Choir) have been headquartered at the Palais Augarten. In addition to a boarding school exclusive to the singers there are also a kindergarten and a private elementary school which are open to musically inclined children of both sexes. The administration is currently planning the construction of a concert hall in the Augarten, which was a topic of heated debate until summer of 2008 as the new building saw the demolition of the baroque "Gesindehaus" (part of the former servants' quarters) at the corner of the park. After protests, a new design has been created to accommodate the building with the concert hall being moved a few meters away.
The Augarten Porzellanmanufaktur (Augarten Porcelain Manufacturer) has its headquarters in the former Garden Hall of the Augarten. The production facility remains here as well. Augarten was the premium brand of Viennese porcelain, nearly as famous as the world-renowned Goldscheider ceramics manufactory which was managed by the Goldscheider family.
The studio of the artist Gustinus Ambrosi was established in 1995 inside the formal English garden. In addition to a large sculpture garden there is also the Gustinus Ambrosi Museum, dedicated to the artists’ work. The former house and studio are known today as the Augarten Contemporary, a branch of the Österreichische Gallerie Belvedere.
Since 1997, the Filmarchiv Austria has been housed in revitalized buildings previously designated as the cooks’ quarters, stables, and general side buildings and outhouses.
The Haus Augarten, a senior citizens home, opened in the grounds of the park in 1975. Directly next to it is the Café Haus Augarten.
The Lauder Chabad campus, constructed in 1998, houses a pre-school, a kindergarten, a primary and middle schools, and a nursery. In addition, the campus has its own teaching academy and a synagogue.
Further facilities include:
- Gen III Flak and Leader Towers.
- Four sports fields, used particularly by students intensively used, especially since many schools do not have their own sports facilities.
- A family swimming pool, the use of which is free to children and adolescents under the age of 15, and to which adults may only gain access as chaperones or parents (€2).
- A small church, the parish of Mother of God.
- Numerous playgrounds.
- A football cage.
- Several free table tennis tables.
- Two zones for dogs.
- Several reserve gardens for the raising of plants needed for garden design and maintenance.