As I have mentioned elsewhere, when I arrive in a new city or a new district the first thing I try to do is to take a walk around the block and around the neighborhood of my hotel, to see what I can find nearby before venturing further afield.
In this case, my hotel was in the Favoriten District of Vienna, so-called not because it is everyone’s favorite district, necessarily, but because it borders on a park where one of the many emperors in some century or other (OK, it was Leopold I in the 17th century) had a summer palace called Favorita. This palace was destroyed during the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683, but somehow the name stuck.
The Favoriten District (aka 10th district) of Vienna is south of the new Central Station and is a densely populated district with lots of working-class people and immigrants.
The first thing I came across, right next door to my hotel, was this intercultural multilingual kindergarten. The signs at the entrance say that they are glad to advise parents in German, Turkish, Arabic, English, Bosnian, Persian, Hungarian, Italian, Urdu, Russian, etc. Another sign says they emphasize the integration of the children and the learning of the German language. But the children are also introduced through learning games to the basics of the Arabic and English languages. Bilingual groups are available in English and by request also in other languages. The children often go on excursions to museums, children’s theaters, zoos, indoor playgrounds and libraries. “Your child has with us a place for the whole day (opening hours 7 am to 5 pm).” Fresh food is prepared daily on the premises, including both regional dishes and “healthy halal food”.
I don’t know how all this works out in practice, but it certainly sounds like exactly what this sort of neighborhood needs. (Kindertagesheim Iqra, Gudrunstraße 140/142, 1100 Wien, Austria. https://www.iqra.at/.)
Across the street from the hotel is a large tram depot, where the trams (aka streetcars) are parked, cleaned and repaired when they are not in use.
Around the corner in the Laxenburger Straße is the Zürcher Hof, a large residential complex built by the Vienna city council in the 1920s as part of an ambitious program to provide decent dwellings for the working population. At the time, the apartments in this complex were a sensation because they were bright, dry and equipped with running water and indoor plumbing, in stark contrast to the cramped “Bassena” tenement apartments where most of the poor people had lived up to then.
(The “Bassena” was a cast-iron basin with a single water faucet, which was the only source of water for all the apartments on each floor of the older tenement buildings.)
Above the main entrance to the Zürcher Hof is an artwork called “Frieze of work” (Fries der Arbeit) by Siegfried Charoux (1896-1967), showing agricultural work being done by the five figures on the left and urban industrial work being done by the five figures on the right. The sculptor, who was also a popular left-wing political cartoonist, moved to England to escape political persecution even before the Nazis came to power in Austria.
This large 19th century brick building is the courthouse and administrative center for the 10th district. This is where you can register a birth, get a passport, get married and even arrange for someone’s funeral, unless you prefer to use one of the two commercial undertakers whose premises are just across the street.
On Keplerplatz by the underground station U1 is a cleverly named fitness studio “Fit Inn”, which has as its motto Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei. This means literally “the fat years are over”, suggesting that you won’t be so fat any more if you come and work out in their gym. But Die fetten Jahre also refers to the “years of abundance” in the Bible, when Joseph says to the Pharaoh: “There will come seven years of great abundance throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine…” (Genesis 41: 29-30).
This square, the Keplerplatz, was named after the astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who is best known for his three laws of planetary motion.
My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2021.
See more posts on Vienna, Austria.