Discovering Vienna’s Hidden Courtyards
Secret Vienna Tour. Do you like advancing into unknown territory? Give your sightseeing an unexpected twist. The most exciting corners in Vienna are the hidden courtyards right in the city centre. I had done a tour on my own before but felt that I stepped past the most intriguing places. I was right, as my tour guide proved.
Regina met me at Schwedenplatz, our diving station. She was determined to start our secret Vienna Tour with the Middle Ages. I tested the soles of my shoes. What followed was a thrilling exploration of courtyards, hidden corners and small alley ways right in the historic centre, along with stories that went deep into the cultural fabric of my hometown.
Secret Vienna Tour. We started in the tiny courtyard of a medieval tower house. I listened to the story of a small town of 100,000 inhabitants, adjacent to swamps but with flourishing waterways, long before the Danube canal was created. “This is the legendary musician Augustin who famously survived the pestilence. He was a regular at this tavern. Every local school child knows his song. I’m sure you’ll do as well…”, Regina pointed down the cave of another courtyard, where a life-size puppet covered in coins lit up.
On the way to a more spacious courtyard, we passed splendid Art Nouveau façades and plaques of famous citizens. The ‘Heiligenkreuzer’ courtyard was typical Viennese, with its six-part windows and simple façades. Amazing that it is unknown to many locals. It had seen more than 800 years of Cistercian monks, local celebrities, common tenants, chapel visitors, and now guests of an exquisite boutique hotel.
Secret Vienna Tour. Before we slipped deeper into secret Viennese backyards we surfaced at the interior of a church. The Jesuitenkirche is the most immaculate baroque church and belongs to the Old University. It was exhilarating to be right in the city centre but far off the beaten track.
Regina continued to unearth things like a Renaissance ‘Pawlatschen’ courtyard and an old passageway through a historic town house before we faced ‘tooth ache Jesus’ and the hilarious legend around him. Even Mozart found his way into our walk: He had a painful and fateful story at the courtyard belonging to the house of the Roman Catholic Order of The Teutonic Knights.
Secret Vienna Tour. My favourite place were the three intertwining backyards at Blutgasse, at a stone’s throw from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You can see one of them in the photo below. The largest courtyard was dominated by a massive centuries-old plane tree. The smaller ones showed Vienna’s typical 18th-century ‘Pawlatschen’ balconies, glazed wooden galleries that lead to the different flats of those buildings. The most bizarre-looking courtyard of our tour was the one with the two outer spiral stair cases.
While we were edging gently towards Cafe Bräunerhof, my next meeting place, I received another couple of pointers… I’ll cross my fingers that you’ll pass the Providentia fountain with a good tour guide, watch out for a good anecdote…Find out more about Regina.
Note: I was invited by the tour guide for this private tour. All opinions expressed are explicitly my own.
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Other great private tours reviewed by Vienna Unwrapped: Imperial Vienna Tour, Sigmund Freud Museum and Tour, Vienna Jewish Tour, Otto Wagner Church (Art Nouveau Tour), Music Tour Vienna
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