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Zentralfriedhof - The Unusual Museum of The Dead in Vienna

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Join us for a lovely walk in the Central Cemetery in Vienna to see some truly unusual tombs of hundreds if not thousands of people whose names you know if you read your history books at school.

The Vienna Central Cemetery opened in 1874. With an area of two and a half square kilometres, it is the second largest cemetery in Europe, second only to that in Hamburg. There are 330,000 gravesites that contain over three million deceased - more than there are inhabitants in Vienna! Today, there are up to twenty five burials every day. The cemetery is also a known habitat of deer, field hamsters, squirrels, badgers, martens, kestrels, and many other kinds of animal that value this huge area as much as we the Viennese do. If you are a bit lucky, you might even see the extremely rare European hamster there!

A local joke has it that the Central Cemetery is "half the size of Zurich but twice as much fun (Halb so groß wie Zürich – aber doppelt so lustig ist der Wiener Zentralfriedhof). Another asks if you know what nobility has in common with potatoes? Read further and find the answer!

We recommend for you to start your visit at Gate 2 built in the Art Nouveau style in 1905 from where you walk the main path towards the "Friedhofskirche zum heiligen Karl Borromäus" (Church of St. Borromeo) - one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau churches in Vienna. On the right you will see the Grave of Honour of the honorary tombs of Beethoven, Brahms, Gluck, Lanner, Schubert, Johann Strauss Father and Son, and Hugo Wolf. The Austrian presidents have been buried in the mausoleum in front of the church since 1945.

Because of the different faith groups were to be interred on the same ground, the consecration of the cemetery caused a lot controversy and met with fierce resistance among the religious Viennese. The cemetery contains burial grounds for the use of various Eastern Orthodox churches. The Protestant section on the east side is dedicated for the two confessions in Austria, the Lutheran and Calvinist. Muslims, too, have been buried at Vienna's Zentralfriedhof since 1876. The dead are buried according to Austrian law, in a coffin, in contrast to the Islamic ritual practice to be buried in a shroud. Europe's first Buddhist cemetery was established in the cemetery in May 2005.

As a curiosity, the cemetery is the scene of Harry Lime's fake and real funeral at the beginning and end of "The Third Man".

Since 2014, there is a funeral museum that gives insight into the funeral and cemetery culture of past centuries highlighting the history of Viennese cemeteries and the “Viennese cult of the dead” explaining the ostentations funerals of the “beautiful corpse” and the hugely expensive memorial tombstones and burial chambers - as a tourist, you will love the scenes throughout your walk! And here comes the answer to our question above: the best part is under the soil! This is definitely what you will see: the grandiose tombs of noble families compete with each other in showiness, the shine of expensive stones and much more.

The park area is fully accessible although many of the paths are covered with gravel. There are three accessible loos with the Euro-Key near Hall 3 in the cemetery, in the cemetery church and at the cemetery office (where there is a ramp). Access to the Honorary tombs is also possible with car and the parking is free with ID - please apply for the access cards at the Infopoint at the 2nd Gate.

There is a Café Oberlaa with a terrace and a somewhat macabre museum shop at Gate 2 where you will definitely find souvenirs that your teenagers will love.


Simmeringer Haputstraße 234, 1110 Wien


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