Vienna, 10th District: Favoriten
I have read or browsed quite a few guidebooks for Vienna, including some that make suggestions for "off the beaten track" approaches to the Austrian capital. The latter ones usually recommend things that are slightly less touristy than the main attractions; in none of these books I have come across a single reference to the 10th district, Favoriten. I find that unfair - there are so many reasons why one could want to go to Favoriten: To get mugged; to get raped; to get molested by a gang of foreign teenagers - or simply to watch a bum take a decent poo in the public.
As you can see, I am not a big fan of Favoriten. In terms of real estate, it is among the cheapest districts of Vienna - for a good reason. But actually, it′s not all that bad. There is indeed a very large percentage of foreign residents, high rates of street crime and nothing of interest to see. But there are also some semi-respectable corners and according to rumour, there are people who succeeded in raising children in Favoriten that did not become drug addicts.
It might be a "bad" district by Austrian terms, by international urban standards, especially the south of Favoriten is actually quite bearable. Only the area near Südbahnhof Station (soon to become Vienna's central station) and some selected neighbourhoods are genuinely suckish.
Commercial & Residential District: Favoriten
There are more than 150,000 residents that call Favoriten home. The generous Wikipedia article even lists a few sightseeing attractions. There is the previously mentioned Südbahnhof, currently a massive construction site (as of 2008), but soon to be the main and central station of Vienna. I assume the surroundings will generally improve after the completion of the property.
The echo of the Empire can be heard in the Starhemberg Kaserne army base. And there are a few churches of limited interest in terms of sightseeing - the parish churches of Oberlaa and Laarberg or the Salvatorkirche, for example. There is a historic 19th century water-tower (woo-hoo!). Most of the southern parts of Favoriten consists of residential, commercial or recreational areas - meaning apartment blocks, office blocks or parks.
Some of Favoriten's Historic Attractions
Here you find the "Spinnerin am Kreuz", a Gothic "Bildstock" or piety column. This was once a common thing to have in (Eastern) Austrian towns, but relatively few these days. Legend has it that the wife of a merchant, who had left to participate in a crusade, came to this site every day to work with her spinning wheel and wait for the husband′s return.
After the crusade had long been over, everybody told her to forget about him and get married again - the faithful wife, however, continued her habit and waited until - surprise - her husband actually did return. Out of gratefulness, they endowed the construction of the "Spinnerin am Kreuz" to thank god for the safe return. Nearby you find the Wienerberg Hill with lots of modern office towers.
Other sights: The Kurzentrum Oberlaa is the only significant thermal spa within Vienna and currently under re-furbishment. The associated parks are worth a closer look, too. South of this area, Lower Austria starts - with vineyards just across the border. Here in this area you can discover the nice (almost charming?) side of Favoriten. It's not terribly big.
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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)