Vienna, Eighth District: The "Josefstadt"
The Josefstadt, Vienna′s Eighth District, is the smallest in terms of size - and with a population of a mere 23,000, it is the second-smallest in terms of population after the First District. The Josefstadt starts just behind the City Hall - this and the vicinity to the main university made it a district of students and civil servants.
What I like about the Josefstadt is that you are very centrally located, yet at the same kind off the busy area of Vienna - within a few blocks, you can leave the pomposity of the Ringstraße and the First District and dive into an almost remote area with "real" life.
This also means that there are few attractions that draw tourists to the Josefstadt. Most of it was populated only after 1700, and the entire district is predominantly residential. The charming side of the Josefstadt is revealed through the many small cafes, bars, galleries and independent shops. There are various student dormitories in the fashionable eastern part of the Josefstadt and a large population of foreigners in the not-at-all-fashionable western part near the Gürtel road (Vienna′s prime red-light area).
Palais Schönborn: Classic Sightseeing in the Josefstadt
Since the Green Party appeals to both, students and ex-foreigners with Austrian citizenship, the Josefstadt was the second district in Austria (after the neighbouring Seventh District with a similar population) to get a Green administration.
Due to the relatively late development of the Josefstadt, there are few palaces - the most significant one being the Palais Schönborn. The current cardinal of Vienna is a Schönborn, by the way. The Palais is now property of the City of Vienna and serves - among other things - as a museum. Here you find the "Österreichische Volkskundemuseum", a museum of folk culture.
It is supposed to be refurbished soon, so I advise you to have a look at the palace soon. It is a rare opportunity to see a palace in Vienna is a rotten, but somewhat charming state - in a city that is full with neat and shiny "Palais" that were refurbished in the past 15 years. Other palaces in the Eight district are the more centrally located Palais Auersperg and the Palais Trautson, both very big and impressive palaces. On contrast, Palais Damian and Palais Strozzi are sad cripples of previously splendid Baroque palaces.
More Things to Do in the Eighth District
The park next to the Palais Schönborn consists of the former gardens of the palace and is the biggest chunk of green in the Eight District - apart from the administrative government, the Josefstadt is one of the least "green" districts in Vienna, with a mere two percent of parks and gardens. Another museum is the one of the district, dedicated mostly to Gustav Klimt. He had his workshop in the Josefstadt and created some of his most famous paintings here.
One of the main attractions is the Piaristenkirche Church, with its characteristic twin-tower. This late-Baroque church is one of the most significant pieces of work by Lukas von Hildebrandt. Another church worth noting is the Baroque Dreifaltigkeitskirche - certainly more appealing than the bizarre Mechitaristenkirche. Within Austria, the Josefstadt has a reputation for being a theatre district. On the one hand, you have many backyard stages and small theatres, including the "La Petite" with only 19 seats.
There are several Cabaret stages, including the legendary "Cabaret Niedermayer". On the other hand, the
"Theater in der Josefstadt" is a big player in Austria′s theatre scene. It was founded in
1788 and is therefore the second-oldest theatre of Vienna, after the Burgtheater.
As a presumably English-speaking person (otherwise you wouldn't read this), the
Vienna International Theatre, also located in the Josefstadt, might be
more appealing to you.
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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)
The Districts of Vienna: An Introduction
Wikipedia on Vienna's Eighth District - Josefstadt
City of Vienna: Districts of Vienna - Josefstadt