Karlsplatz Square:
Traffic & Nature, Druggies & culture

Just behind the Academy of Fine Arts, you will find the Secession building in its boasting Jugendstil and the Karlsplatz Square, stretching over several blocks. A square of that size in the centre of Vienna should be an attractive spot inviting passers-by to stay for a rest - unfortunately, however, the Karlsplatz is among the least attractive squares in Vienna. Above the ground, heavy, heavy traffic spoils the numerous cafes nearby and under ground in the subway station, even very na´ve visitors of Vienna will recognise the station immediately as the most popular meeting spot for druggies.

The Musikverein Concert Hall in Vienna

Unless you want to chat with a junkie, I would advise you to stick with the more pleasant aspects of the square. Beyond the Secession, there is the Karlskirche, but also the subway pavilions designed by the Jugendstil master Otto Wagner, whom you might have come across earlier on at the Postsparkasse.

Watch out for the strange, modern building with the eagles in the fašade - the Technical University of Vienna (TU Wien) teaches all sorts of engineering and is Austria′s premier disposal site for nerds. There is the "Old TU", a 19th century neo-Classical building just next to it.

Venue of the "New Year′s Concert

A few blocks down the square you will find the "Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien" ("History Museum of the City of Vienna", separate article) and the Künstlerhaus ("House of the Artists") as well as the Musikverein ("Music Society"), which contains Austria′s most famous concert hall, the "Großer Konzertsaal des Wiener Musikvereins" ("Big Concert Hall of the Vienna Music Society").

The Jugendstil pavilions on Karlsplatz Square were designed by Otto Wagner

And now again one thing after the other: The pavilions of the subway by Otto Wagner are sprinkled all over Vienna, or following the subway lines U4 and U6, to be precise. They come in something like a default mode and some slightly fancier variations for special sites - such as Schloss Schönbrunn in Hietzing, where they were adopted to the use of the Royal family.

Those on the Karlsplatz were spiced up with some gold decorations and sunflower ornaments. Famed as a typical example for the Vienna Jugendstil, the Wagner pavilions are now restored and if you are willing to ignore the boasting traffic around it, you can have coffee in one of them or visit exhibitions organised by the "Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien" in the other.

Sights beyond Druggies

There is also an outpost of the MuseumsQuartier in a new building, but I don′t see too much of a reason why one would want to spend more time on the Karlsplatz than necessary. On the other side of the square, you find the Künstlerhaus, which was built in 1881 as an exhibition venue for an association of artists.

The palace-like Karlskirche Church is covered in a separate article

These artists were rather orthodox ones, of whom the Secession group split (thus the name) in order to build its own, much fancier venue: the Secession in the opposing corner of the Karlsplatz. The rather unassuming building next to the Künstlerhaus is the headquarter of the "Wiener Musikverein", which holds a splendid concert hall designed by the proliferate Danish architect Theophil Hansen, who also built the Houses or Parliament, the Stock Exchange or the Academy of Fine Arts.

The concert hall is the venue of the New Year′s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which is viewed (and listened to) by some 1.3 billion people worldwide - a number I personally doubt, but this is what the broadcasting corporations say and journalists never lie...

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Further Reading

Official website of the Vienna Tourist Information

Official Website of the Musikverein Vienna