The Otto Wagner Tour

Otto Wagner

Otto Wagner

If you ever come to Vienna and are interested in Art Nouveau railway architecture, you should try a ride along one of the most interesting urban railways - the remnants of Otto Wagner's Stadtbahn, built in 1893-1901, and now incorporated into Vienna's metro and S-Bahn system.

All you need is a ticket (a 24-hr pass is advisable, otherwise you may need up to 4 single tickets) and 90-120 minutes, depending on whether you want to stay on the train or take a closer look at some stations.

Caveat: you should consider doing this between 10 am and 2 pm or on a Saturday or Sunday, as line U6 can be terribly crowded during peak hours.

This map will guide you:

Otto Wagner ride - map

  1. You start at Karlsplatz station. Otto Wagner's Stadtbahn pavillons still sit there on the street level, although they are now used as a coffee house and museum respectively. Have a look at them, then enter the metro station through the back of the museum pavillon, and go straight down to the platform of line U4.

  2. Take a train to Hütteldorf, but don't go all the way there; instead get off at Längenfeldgasse. This is a new station built in the 1980s, you'll have to change platforms there (go upstairs trough the ticket hall and downstairs to the other platform). While you're doing this, have a quick look towards Otto Wagner's bridge over the Wienzeile. It is to the east of the station, with rail tracks rising towards it.

  3. Now get on a train of line U6 to Floridsdorf. The train will climb up towards the bridge and then pass through a number of stations built by Otto Wagner. I like the first one at Gumpendorfer Strasse best, but maybe you'll go for the one at Währinger Strasse, which is the highest of Wagner's stations.

  4. The last of the Wagner stations is Nussdorfer Strasse, but stay on the train, which will go into tunnel again, and get off when it resurfaces at Handelskai. Walk down the stairs to the platform of line S45. It is the terminus of the line, so you don't have to worry about directions. Trains run at 15-minute intervals, so you may have to wait a little.

  5. The interesting part starts when the train has passed through Heiligenstadt. The stations at Gersthof, Hernals and Ottakring are fine examples of Wagner's railway architecture. If you're already bored by the time you reach Ottakring, you can get off here and take line U3 back to the city centre. Otherwise stay on the train and enjoy the ride until the train terminates at Hütteldorf.

  6. There, change to line U4, which will bring you back to Karlsplatz. Unfortunately most stations here have been refurbished beyond recognition on the platform level (some of Wagner's buildings on the street level have survived). At Hietzing, you can have a look at the Imperial Pavillon, a station built by Wagner for Emperor Franz Joseph, but sadly never used by the emperor. The station at Schönbrunn, being a listed building, had survived 1970s refurbishment, but the recent installation of a new lift has changed it beyond recognition - a veritable shame for the architects responsible for this.

  7. If you have the time, don't get off at Karlsplatz, but stay on the train for another stop at Stadtpark. Here, the new lifts were installed more subtly, and the original apperance has mostly been retained. This is what most stations on the Stadtbahn looked like before the conversion to metro in the 1970s/80s. If you stay on the line, you'll be able to get some nice views of the Danube Canal between Landstrasse and Friedensbrücke stations (but only if you are sitting to the right).

Hope you enjoy the ride.

Last modified 20 February 2001

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