Vienna Central Cemetery 

Vienna Central Cemetery is the main cemetery in Vienna; and at 620 acres with 330,000 grave sites, it is the second largest cemetery in Europe.  With over 3,000,000 people buried there, the number of people buried there well exceeds the living population of Vienna today.  The decision to build the cemetery came in 1863 when city leaders thought the Austrian Hungarian empire would grow forever and the present cemetery system would be insufficient.  Consequently, they chose a huge area of flat land well outside the city center to build a cemetery that would take a long time to fill.  

The cemetery opened on All Saints Day in 1874 to some controversy.  It was an interdenominational cemetery with a Jewish section causing much criticism from the Catholic Church.  For most of its history it has had a Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, and Russian Orthodox section as well as the Catholic section.  It was so far out of town in the beginning that people did not want to go there.  This led to the creation of Ehrengräber or honorary graves to make the cemetery something of a tourist attraction.  Consequently, most of the famous Austrian composers, scientists, writers, etc. as well as all the Austrian presidents are buried here.

The cemetery is served by tram line 71 from the city center.  It is about a 30 minute ride from the city center.  This has led to the expression “he took the 71” to mean that the person died.Susan is at the grave site of her favorite composer, Beethoven.  He seemed to be everyone’s favorite as many of the flowers are in freestanding pots or are cut flowers that were left there.A memorial to Mozart is in the center (He is buried in a nearby cemetery), Beethoven is buried on the left and Franz Schubert is buried on the right.  Brahms and Strauss are buried nearby.lui

We met a math PhD student from the University of Maryland who wanted his picture taken in front of the grave of Ludwig Boltzmann.  We asked him why Boltzmann was famous.  He explained that Boltzmann developed statistical mechanics which explains and predicts the properties of atoms.  His formula for entropy is at the top of the memorial.  I’m pretty sure that no one else really cares about that, but it is interesting how you learn things.

The more elaborate graves tended to be next to the main road.  This one was particularly touching.There is a large church in the area of the cemetery we visited.  Up to 25 Burials a day take place in this cemetery.  There seemed to be several just in the small area we were visiting today.  After paying our respects to Beethoven and Boltzmann, I am happy to report we took the 71 safely back to the city center where we had some more street food before looking at Hapsburg bling at the Treasury.A coronation robe.  Because they ruled many different empires, they would have a ceremony in each empire and have a different coronation robe for each one.The crown of the Holy Roman Emperor made of gold, pearls, and precious stones.  It was probably made for Otto I (c. 960).  And we think things are old in Charleston!A baptismal plate and urn.An alter cover.  The detail below shows what it is possible to achieve with needle and thread.  This was made in about 1450.Notice the detail achieved on the faces and clothing.  We have two more days of exploring Vienna before heading home on Sunday.

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