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:
A second and smaller tower, the L-tower, is further north.
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:
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:
The other great thing about the Augarten is the bakery situated on its southwest side:
I’ll write about Flaktürme another time — there are others in Vienna, and they’re extraordinary. Some have been repurposed in surprising ways.