Otto Wagner places-to-be

A discovery tour of Otto Wagner’s unique style

In particular Otto Wagner’s unmistakable pavilions, originally built for Vienna’s light railway and today part of the underground lines U4 and U6, are well-known features of the city landscape. Similarly the Postsparkasse (the Austrian Post Savings Bank) or the Kirche am Steinhof are some of Vienna’s significant Art Nouveau works. Tip: take the U4 for a small voyage of discovery!

Wien

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    Post Office Savings Bank

    Otto Wagner's Post Office Savings Bank in the 1st district of Vienna is considered the most modern and significant building by the so-called cosmopolitan architect. It is his key piece of historicism in European Modernism architecture and was built from 1904 to 1912. The famous Wagner quotation that "Something impractical can never be beautiful" can be found in every detail of the decoration, be it in the facade or the interior furnishings. Every piece of furniture and component designed by Wagner represents the practicality and usefulness of modern life. For example, the aluminum-clad iron studs on the external façade are a symbol for security in the safekeeping of the customers' savings. The bank building is still in use today, with automatic self-service terminals, and is regularly used as an event location.   

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    The U4 Pavillon in Hietzing

    Around 1900 Otto Wagner was commissioned to design a few pavilions for the new city railway which was to be built. Incidentally, the largest infrastructure project of the time and an absolute innovation as a means of mass transportation. The construction of the Emperor's Pavilion for Emperor Franz Joseph I and the "highest court" at the Hietzing stop was due to Wagner's own initiative. As a result the pavilion received an unmistakable, prestigious exterior, as well as an imperial interior entirely in the Art Nouveau style, although in the end the Emperor himself is said to have only travelled twice on the railway. Located nearby are Schönbrunn Palace, the famous zoo, as well as the palace gardens. My tip: end your visit with a walk up to the Gloriette!

     

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    The Church at Steinhof

    The Church at Steinhof is easy to reach from Schönbrunn by taxi and was actually called Church of St. Leopold. Otto Wagner was commissioned to build it by the imperial court in the course of the establishment of the Lower Austria Mental Nursing Institute from 1904 to 1907. Wagner cleverly considered that the building was an institutional church for patients with a psychological disorder. Visually, the church is still a jewel of Viennese Art Nouveau! Personally, I am particularly impressed by the leaded glass windows that truly "flood" the church with daylight. The Tiffany-style mosaic windows were designed by Kolo Moser. One of his original designs is still exhibited today in the Leopold Museum. The church itself can only be visited on Saturdays and Sundays for an admission fee but the outside is also worth a visit and is a popular photo subject!
     

     

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    The Otto Wagner houses

    The three Otto Wagner houses on the Linke Wienzeile No. 38 and No. 40 and in the adjacent Köstlergasse are particularly striking buildings in the architectural cityscape of Vienna. These jewels of Viennese Art Nouveau are also very easy to reach with the U4. Otto Wagner always wanted to make the street between Karlsplatz and Schönbrunn Palace into a splendid boulevard. In spring the flower decoration on the Art Nouveau house No. 40 (also known as the Majolica House) is particularly fitting to the scene on the adjacent Naschmarkt, a visit to which I would definitely recommend. Many small restaurants are the perfect place to stop and enjoy a meal, including delicious fish dishes. A wonderful walk in an afternoon through Vienna's most famous market!

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    The U4-Pavillon on Karlsplatz

    The Otto Wagner Pavilion at Karlsplatz, which was originally the station building for the Viennese city railway and since 2005 has been part of the Wien Museum's exhibition space, is a real jewel of Art Nouveau architecture. From April to November there is a permanent documentation on the life and works of Otto Wagner. The development of the most famous Wagner designs, such as the Church on Steinhof, the Post Office Savings Bank and the city railway project, which was revolutionary at the time, are on display. In the adjoining pavilion there is a small cafe with a garden where I like to stop for coffee. However, I would particularly like to recommend the Otto Wagner exhibition to you which is currently running at the Wien Museum directly on Karlsplatz and near the famous Karlskirche.

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