Tag Archives: Augarten

A Sunday Afternoon in the Augarten

The Augarten is Vienna’s oldest Baroque park, opened in 1775 by Emperor Joseph II on the grounds of an earlier Habsburg hunting ground and later mansion. Now it is the setting for a porcelain factory and the Vienna Boys’ Choir, as well as various other institutions. It’s a true Baroque garden, with carefully laid geometric flower beds, tree-lined avenues, and an anti-aircraft tower.

Ok, so that last isn’t so Baroque. Most people love the Augarten for its idyllic vegetation and flat lawns, but I love it because of its typically Viennese split personality. Because set in the midst of its shady lanes and bright flowers are two Nazi-built Flaktürme, or Flak towers. The more massive of the two is the G-tower, which rises ominously over the park:

The Augarten is place of peculiarly Viennese juxtapositions — a beautifully regular Baroque garden provides the setting for a massive Nazi anti-aircraft tower (a second tower, used as a bunker, is further north in the park). On a sunny day in June, the idyllic atmosphere smooths these contrasts, making the Augarten the ideal place for a jog, walk, or sit.
The Augarten is place of peculiarly Viennese juxtapositions — a beautifully regular Baroque garden provides the setting for a massive Nazi anti-aircraft tower (a second tower, used as a bunker, is further north in the park). On a sunny day in June, the idyllic atmosphere smooths these contrasts, making the Augarten the ideal place for a jog, walk, or sit.

A second and smaller tower, the L-tower, is further north.

Here is the L-tower, which I believe was a radio tower while the other was for anti-aircraft guns.
Here is the L-tower, which I believe was also a control tower.

The L-tower was a bunker, but the G-tower was a platform for massive anti-aircraft guns; it’s now the backdrop to some serious June sunbathing and football-playing:

There's something grand and decadent and also so Viennese about the juxtaposition of the Flakturm with all the sunbathing, ball-playing, lounging, and general hedonism of the Augarten on a Sunday.
There’s something grand and decadent and also so Viennese about the juxtaposition of the Flakturm with all the sunbathing, ball-playing, lounging, and general hedonism of the Augarten on a Sunday.
There's something beautiful and fascinating about the Flakturm.
The Russians attempted to demolish the tower, but it’s too massive to bring down. Damaged and supported by cables, it endures.

What I love about the Augarten is the juxtaposition of the Flakturm and the violence in our midst with the elegant lanes of trees, perfect for a civilized stroll:

Go ahead, stroll. The trees invite you.
Go ahead, stroll. The trees invite you.

The other great thing about the Augarten is the bakery situated on its southwest side:

When you come out the western end of the Augarten, you will detect the extraordinary odor of fine baked goods coming from the Bäckerei Prindl. Do not resist. They are open 7 days/week because they know you need them.
When you come out the western end of the Augarten, you will detect the extraordinary odor of fine baked goods coming from the Bäckerei Prindl. Do not resist. They are open 7 days/week because they know you need them.

I’ll write about Flaktürme another time — there are others in Vienna, and they’re extraordinary. Some have been repurposed in surprising ways.

Posted in Culture, Regan Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment