Vienna, 12th District: Meidling
The 12th district of Vienna is Meidling, an area that has little character that you could sum up in a sentence. Meidling is a diverse district, predominantly a labourer′s district with 80,000 residents, but with some up-market real estate here and there. Meidling has a few attractions, but nothing to shout about too much; most tourists come to pass the district quickly in order to get to Hietzing and the palace of Schloss Schönbrunn.
Some basic orientation: The northern border of Meidling is marked by the Wien River, although this is rather a creek. The office towers of the Wienerberg Hill make a good landmark for the South-Eastern border to the 10th district or Favoriten. In the West, it borders to the extensive parks of Schloss Schönbrunn.
The oldest record of Meidling dates back to 1104, when a settlement called "Murlingen" was first mentioned. Back then and throughout much of the Middle Ages, the biggest part of Meidling belonged to the monastery of Klosterneuburg and consisted of vineyards and orchards. Things changed after the second Turkish Siege of 1683.
Meidling: From Village to Industrian Hub
The villages around Vienna had been destroyed; but following the victories of the Turkish Wars, the Habsburgs decided to build themselves a fancy new palace. The palace of Schönbrunn served as a summer residence to the Emperor and his family - and attracted quite a few high-ranking civil servants and nobility that had to live nearby. Meidling became fashionable and when sulphuric, hot springs were discovered in 1755, it even made it to a spa town with pools at the "Theresienbad".
This fame did not last, though - soon Meidling became an experimental ground for the first signs of the industrial revolution. It progressed very slowly in Austria compared to Great Britain or Prussia, but towards the end of the 18th century, there were several manufactories in Meidling that spoilt its reputation as a fashionable place. The population grew significantly nonetheless.
In terms of sightseeing, there are few things worth noting. The best is probably to go for a walk and see where it gets you. A significant feature is the Schloss Hetzendorf - a place that is not open to the public, because it serves as a school for apparel design. The parks are accessible and worth a closer look. The Schloss Hetzendorf also houses a rather vast collection of lady′s dresses and accessories from the 19th and 20th century; in total, some 20,000 items, kept by the Wien Museum.
Palatial Attractions of Meidling: Vienna's Backdoor
Another little palace in Meidling is Schloss Altmannsdorf, home to the "Renner-Institut", an educational institute of the Austrian social democrats. A bit of Imperial nostalgia can be felt at the barracks of the "Meidlinger Trainkaserne", an army base that was recently refurbished (at least as far as one can tell from outside).
Meidling is also home to the Südwestfriedhof, the second-biggest cemetery in Vienna after the Zentralfriedhof or central cemetery. Smaller, but charming cemeteries are the Hetzendorfer and the Altmannsdorfer Friedhof cemetery. There is about a dozen of churches in Meidling, but most remarkably none of them is of great interest - they are mostly 19th and early 20th century buildings of little architectural or other significance. The neo-Romanesque Hetzendorfer Kirche is one of these - it contains three paintings by Ernst Fuchs, a prominent artist of the Vienna School of Phantastic Realism.
Similar things can be said about the various parks, of which the Haydnpark is the biggest - or the small museums of Meidling, such as the district′s museum or the "Museum of Heating Systems" (obviously targeting a niche audience). Meidling is neither a bad area nor particularly good, not boring and most certainly not exciting, neither cheap nor particularly expensive - all in all, I just don′t have much to say about Meidling in terms of personal impressions.
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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)