Vienna, Ninth District: Alsergrund, Part I
To cut it short: I like the Ninth District or Alsergrund a lot. This is remarkable insofar as I normally really dislike historicist architecture and the Ninth District is full with just that. However, in the pompous and pretentious buildings, new life has developed after their original construction in the 19th century. The Alsergrund has two main ingredients: Students and medics.
Both of them are concerned with the vicinity to the medical, business and the general university and to the Allgemeines Krankenhaus or AKH, the General Hospital of Vienna. Like most of the former "Vorstädte" (suburbs), the ninth district stretches between the Ringstraße and the Gürtel road.
Tourists usually concentrate on two things: The Votivkirche Church by the Ringstraße, and the Palais Liechtenstein, one of two palaces in Vienna that belong to the royal family of Liechtenstein. The Palais was built in the 18th century in a then conservative Baroque style. The palace is divided into two buildings, an upper and a lower one, with a park in between.
Palais Liechtenstin & Votivkirche Church
Whilst the upper palace is rented to various corporations, the park is open to the general public. The lower, main palace hosts a museum for the private art collections of the Prince of Liechstenstein. It has a focus on Baroque art and nicely reflects the personal preferences of several generations of Liechtenstein collectors. Together with the palace, which was recently refurbished, it makes a great ensemble.
The Votivkirche Church is a very different building: neo-Gothic architecture, which I normally dislike a lot - in this case, however, the building is actually quite nice. It was built after a failed attempt to assassinate Emperor Franz Joseph I and underlined the unifying aspects of the Habsburg Empire: The multi-national army, Catholicism and - last but most certainly not least - the Habsburg family.
The interiors reflect this: There are coats of arms of all the "Kronländer", the lands of the crown. And the Votivkirche serves as a congregation and commemoration church for the Austrian army and veteran associations. Behind the Votivkirche, you find the Hosenträgerhaus from the late 1880ies, a key-building for modern Viennese architecture.
Roßauer Kaserne: Militant Past of Alsergrund
For a demonstration of how nice the Habsburgs were to their people, check out the Roßauer Kaserne - an enormous brick building by the Ringstraße. It was originally built to host 4,000 cavalry units and one army camp out of a trio - with the Stiftskaserne in the seventh district and the arsenal (for artillery) in the third district being the other two.
They were built after the attempted and widely failed revolution of 1848 and arranged around the city centre in a way that would allow the army to kill as many subjects of the crown as necessary to express the Habsburg′s disliking of democracy. Ironically, the Roßauer Kaserne now serves as office building for two ministries of the democratic republic of Austria.
Continue with "Vienna Ninth District,
Alsergrund - Part II"
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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)