Augarten

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palais Augarten
china manufactory
map of the Augarten

The Augarten is a public park of 52.2 hectares (129 acres) situated in the Leopoldstadt, the second ward of Vienna, Austria. It contains the city's oldest Baroque parks.

In the north it borders on the Northern Railway line, while to the south it faces the so-called Karmeliterviertel ("Carmelite quarter"). In the north-west and north-east its wall marks the boundary with the 20th ward of Vienna, the Brigittenau.

The park is designed in the French Baroque style with elaborate flower gardens and impressive shady avenues of chestnut, lime, ash, and maple. Like most public parks and gardens in Vienna it is open only in the daytime: the park's five gates close at sunset (signalled by a siren).

The Augarten hosts a variety of facilities such as the Wiener Sängerknaben (the Vienna Boys' Choir) in the Palais Augarten, the Augarten Porzellanmanufaktur (Augarten porcelain factory), the Augarten Contemporary (part of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, the Austrian Gallery housed in the Belvedere), the Filmarchiv Austria, a retirement home, a Jewish academic campus,[1] a paddling pool for children and sports fields.

There are two places in the park where meals or snacks may be had, the Bunkerei (partially housed in a former bunker) and on the premises of the Filmarchiv, and in addition two catering establishments, one of them in the Atelier Augarten.

The Baroque park, the palace and the remaining part of the original park wall, dating from the early 18th century, are since 2000 listed as historic monuments.

History[edit]

In 1614, Emperor Matthias had a small hunting lodge built in what was then called the Wolfsau, at the time a flood-plain ("Au" is an Austrian and southern German term for a riparian forest or flood-plain). Around 1650, Ferdinand III bought up the area around the nearby Tabor, an initial outpost[clarification needed] before the final approach to Vienna's city walls. He established a formal Dutch garden and expanded the hunting lodge into a small mansion. In the 1660s, Leopold I acquired the adjacent gardens from the noble Trautson family and had it transformed into an all-comprising[clarification needed] pleasure park. In 1677 he converted the Trautsons' garden mansion into a small palace (a so-called Lustschloss), to which he gave the name "Imperial Favorita". Later on instead of this one the name "Old Favorita" became established.

1683 was a bad year for Vienna and the Augarten: during the course of the Turkish siege the grounds and buildings were destroyed in their entirety, with exception of some parts of the walls. Not until 1705 were the gardens and the palace restored under Emperor Joseph I. The garden palace built at this time is now the headquarters of the Augarten Porzellanmanufaktur (Augarten porcelain factory), the second oldest porcelain factory in Europe. A few years later, in 1712, the new regent Charles VI commissioned landscape architect Jean Trehet - also responsible for the creation of the gardens at Schönbrunn as well as at the Belvedere - to carry out new plans to develop the whole park, in French style. Today's Augarten is still based on this.

After the opening of the Vienna Prater to the public in 1766, the Augarten was likewise opened on 1 May 1775 by Joseph II. On this occasion nightingales were settled[clarification needed] and hunting of them was strictly forbidden. The entrance at that time was still guarded by the military, whilst inside the park ground war invalids and other handicapped people maintained order. The inscription Allen Menschen gewidmeter Erlustigungs-Ort von Ihrem Schaetzer ("A place of amusement dedicated to all people by their Cherisher") can still be read at the main gate to the Augarten which leads to the Augarten Palace. To satisfy these high expectations, dining rooms and dance halls, refreshment places and billiard rooms were established and for all of them the restaurateur Ignaz Jahn was responsible as host[clarification needed].

During the disastrous inundation which afflicted Vienna from February 1 to March 1 of 1830, the entire Augarten was flooded to a depth of 1.75 metres (nearly 6 feet). Two memorial plaques, one on the inner side of the main portal and another at the gate to Castellezgasse, commemorate this flood. With the regulation of the Danube from 1860 to 1870, the Augarten became permanently separated from the Danube river. The former riparian forest and plain changed to a cultivated landscape, which was no longer subject to flooding.

Between 1934 and 1936, the Federal Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg lived in the Palais Augarten.

During the Second World War, military authorities chose the Augarten as one of several places to erect massive buildings for anti-aircraft defence (flak towers) to protect the inner city from Allied bombing. During summer 1944 the construction of a 55 metre (180 feet) high tower with platforms for anti-aircraft guns and nearby also a 51 metre high control tower was begun but not finished, Their remains are still visible as an eyesore in the middle of the park. Moreover during the war hundreds of cubic metres of rubbish were dumped on the site whilst armoured vehicles criss-crossed the garden and - as it is supposed - common graves were dug for hundreds of war victims.

Today with the deplorable exception of the virtually indestructible flak towers and the bunker (in which a restaurant is housed) nothing from this dark period remains.

Vienna flak tower dsc01594.jpg
Vienna flak tower dsc01576.jpg

Cultural significance[edit]

As early as 1772, so-called Morgenkonzerte ("morning concerts") were conducted or performed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the Garden Hall of the Palais Augarten; but the house was also used for many other festivals and concerts. The morning concerts were for a time conducted exclusively by Mozart himself, then alternated between different conductors until 1795 when the management of the concerts was transferred to the famous violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh. Ludwig van Beethoven also had several of his works performed under the direction of Schuppanzigh.

In the years 1820 to 1847, the 1 May concerts also took place in the Garden Hall, where mainly works by Johann Strauss Sr. were presented. Works by Franz Schubert were also performed here. He gave concerts there as early as the late 18th century and his music provided entertainment for the celebrations both during and after the Congress of Vienna.

Since 1998, the meadow in front of the battle tower is home in July and August to an open-air cinema by the name of Kino Unter den Sternen ("Cinema Beneath the Stars").

MuTh[edit]

The 400-seat hall is called MuTh, which stands for Musik und Theater. Its name is also an allusion to the German word Mut ("courage"), which until the end of the 19th century was spelt Muth. On December 14–15, 2012, there was a performance called Kongress über Mut ("Courage Congress").

This last is however a further word-play (on Übermut, thus "congress of arrogance or presumption"), and in fact there was not very much courage needed to set up this building, though citizens' initiatives had been loudly protesting since 2006.[2]

Objectors may call this a scandal, but the building is sure to become the third 'somewhat strange' manmade object in the Augarten, the others being the two battle towers built during the Second World War.

Facilities in the Augarten[edit]

Since 1948, the Wiener Sängerknaben (Vienna Boys' Choir) have been headquartered at the Palais Augarten. In addition to a boarding school exclusive to the singers there are also a kindergarten and a private elementary school which are open to musically inclined boys and girls. The administration is currently planning to build a concert hall in the Augarten, which was a topic of heated debate until summer 2008 as the new building saw the demolition of the baroque "Gesindehaus" (part of the former servants' quarters) at the corner of the park. After protests, a new design has been created to accommodate the building with the concert hall being moved a few meters away.

The Augarten Porzellanmanufaktur (Augarten Porcelain factory) has its headquarters in the former Garden Hall of the Augarten. The production facility remains here as well. Augarten was the premium brand of Viennese porcelain, nearly as famous as the world-renowned Goldscheider ceramics factory which was managed by the Goldscheider family.

The studio of the artist Gustinus Ambrosi was established in 1995 inside the formal English garden. In addition to a large sculpture garden there is also the Gustinus Ambrosi Museum, dedicated to the artist's work. The former house and studio are known today as the Augarten Contemporary, a branch of the Österreichische Gallerie Belvedere.

Since 1997, the Filmarchiv Austria has been housed in revitalized buildings previously designated as the cooks' quarters, stables, and general side buildings and outhouses.

The Haus Augarten, a senior citizens' home, opened in the grounds of the park in 1975. Directly next to it is the Café Haus Augarten.

The Lauder Chabad campus, constructed in 1998, houses a pre-school, a kindergarten, a primary and middle schools, and a nursery. In addition, the campus has its own teaching academy and a synagogue.

Further features include:

  • Gen III Flak and control towers.
  • Four sports fields, intensively used particularly by students, especially since many schools do not have their own sports facilities.
  • A family swimming pool, which is free to under-15s, and to which adults may only gain access as chaperones or parents (€2).
  • A small church, the parish of Mother of God.
  • Numerous playgrounds.
  • A football cage.
  • Several free table tennis tables.
  • Two zones for dogs.
  • Several reserve gardens for the raising of plants needed for garden design and maintenance.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Augarten at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 48°13′34″N 16°22′34″E / 48.226°N 16.376°E / 48.226; 16.376