3-Hour Small-Group Tour Exploring Vienna's History and Art Nouveau: Otto Wagner and the City Rail Network

Who I am
Aina Martin


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Embark on a half-day history tour with an expert on Vienna's iconic art nouveau metro stations and buildings while learning about design elements, politics, and culture. aesthetic philosophy of this elegant style from the beginning of the last century.

The question of an efficient transport infrastructure was a subject that inevitably dominated debates in Vienna during the late XNUMXth century, when the city's population underwent rapid expansion. The needs for a modern public transport system were therefore a logical consequence of the demographic and topographical upheavals of the city. Thus, in the latter part of the century, the parliament of Vienna hired town planners to design the metro lines which were to connect the suburbs with the city center along the urban belt. The architect chosen for this huge and sensitive task was Otto Wagner, who was already famous for giving materials and functionality major roles in his work in contrast to the trend of his many peers who favored decoration. From the start, Wagner aimed to create a subway architecture that would be iconic, easily recognizable and equally adaptable to different areas of the city, and which would bring out the cosmopolitanism of Vienna.

Starting from the magnificent pavilion at Karlsplatz, you will discover bases for discussion by visiting the small Wagner Museum. From there you will walk to Stadtpark underground station, the best preserved of the original underground stations still in use. Then you'll start to dig deeper into some of the design elements. One of the most remarkable features of this station is the adjacent canal which allowed the new course of the Vienne River to be incorporated, as the waterway had to be recanalized when the city's rail network was built. and one of the main issues to be resolved was how to integrate the realigned river into the new urban landscape.

Your next metro station visit will be at Kettenbrücke. Along the way you will visit and explore the famous building dedicated to the art of the Secession, the quintessential icon of Viennese Jugendstil, as well as two magnificent villas designed by Otto Wagner. Here, the Jugendstil philosophy will be explained to you, taking into account the symbols and materials prized by its practitioners. Departing from Kettenbrücke station, you will board the metro to reach your last stop, a visit to the Imperial Station. This remarkable building was erected in front of Schönbrunn Palace for the sole use of
the emperor. The crown jewel of the railway line, this station also had a symbolic meaning, which was to show critics of the Vienna Metro that the emperor helped create the line. In this modestly sized but dynamic building, you will recognize all the elements you have encountered along the walk and at other stations, while noticing the methods used by Wagner to translate the generally bourgeois style of art. new in an aesthetic of imperial grandeur.

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