A garden or courtyard with lots of flowers is always a welcome respite more so if it’s situated within the city abuzz with activities. Vienna has plenty of these beautiful and well-manicured gardens spread out around the city. They have become popular tourist attractions visited by thousands or even millions of people each year.
Vienna’s gardens are just one proof of the capital city’s dedication to a green lifestyle. They provide locals and foreign visitors a unique place to stroll, spend a quiet time and marvel at different and lovely plants and flowers.
Did you know that almost half of Vienna or about 200 square kilometers of the city are green spaces? A major part of these areas is free to the public.
Spring is the best time to explore the amazing gardens of Vienna. It is during this time when the flowers are abloom, when they show off their vibrant colors and when they produce their unique fragrance.
Volksgarten and Burggarten
The Volksgarten and Burggarten are the gardens of the Imperial Palace and are now included in the World Heritage sites list. They used to be the private gardens of Emperor Franz Joseph I who was the husband of the Empress Sisi. Three years after the emperor’s death, the gardens were opened to the public. A monument of Empress Sissi can also be found in the Volksgarten.
These lovely Imperial Palace gardens also have other attractions. They include the Palm House, one of the most beautiful art nouveau glass houses built according to plans by Friedrich Ohman and the Butterfly House where hundreds of exotic butterflies reside today. Visitors need not worry about fulfilling their gastronomic needs while strolling in the compound as a very atmospheric coffee house and restaurant are also available.
The Stadtpark is situated at the foot of the golden Johann Strauss memorial. It boasts of flowerbeds, meadows and a large pond that make the place a truly green oasis in the middle of a busy city.
Opened to the public in 1862, the park is most famous for its various monuments and sculptures. Visitors can find here the monuments of some of Vienna’s popular figures such as Franz Schubert, Franz Lehar and Robert Stolz, a marble statue of the painter Hans Makart, bronze busts of composer Anton Bruckner and Vienna Mayor Andreas Zelinka.
It is also worth noting that the Stadtpark is Vienna’s first public park. It was opened to the public after the demolition of the old city wall and the construction of the Ringstraße.
This was originally a Dutch Garden created upon the request of former Emperor Franz I Stephan back in 1753. During that time, the garden had a geometrical layout and was divided into three sections. The northern section featured a flower garden, the middle section had vegetable beds and fruit trees while the southern section was an orchard.
Eventually, the garden was extended during the time of Joseph II and Emperor Franz II/I and glasshouses were put up in the new area of the garden. An arboretum was also built featuring exotic American trees planted in rows and with inscribed plaques. Currently, the garden has an estimated 4,000 plants of 800 different species.
By the year 1828, the Dutch-Botanic Garden became a landscape garden in the English style. It was then renamed the Court Plant Garden.
The Privy Garden is part of the Meidling Kammergarten situated in front of the Schonbrunn Palace. Also known as the Crown Prince Rudolf Garden in German, it has four sections enclosed by formal beds and features an ancient yew tree as the focal point.
During summer, this garden is protected from the wind allowing it to show off a wonderful collection of various specimens including citrus trees of the Federal Parks and Gardens Authority.
One of the oldest parts of the garden is called “On the Cellar” situated immediately above the cellar of the court kitchen. Built in 1700, it features an elaborate design based on embroidery patterns and at the centre is an octagonal pool. Surrounding this section is a horseshoe-shaped pergoal with five pavilions.
Fans of playwright William Shakespeare can enjoy a tour of his garden in Vienna. Opened to the public in 2005, the themed area features selected quotes written by the artist and corresponding plants. It was the idea of Austrian ethnobotanist Miriam Wiegele to build the Shakespeare Garden to help familiarise apprentices and students at the local school of horticulture and floristry with English plant names and the British art of gardening.
The entrance to the Shakespeare garden is called Laburnum Walk, literally a tunnel made up of laburnum plants. Inside are five different flower beds – the shady bed, a bed with afternoon sun, a magnificent display bed, a herbal bed and a classic English-style flower bed.
The plants available in the garden have labels written in English and Latin. There’s also a sign that gives the direction and distance of Stratford-upon-Avon, the place where Shakespeare was born.
Many of Shakespeare’s works mentioned plants for symbolic purposes and all the plants are contained in classical medical texts or medieval herbal manuals. These include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Henry VI.
Originally named as Maria Josefa Park, this garden was constructed in 1903-1904. The park was renamed Schweizergarten after the end of the First World War.
Spanning 1.4 hectares, the park is laid out as a landscaped English garden. It has varied features such as a rose garden, streams, ponds, a restaurant and an outdoor pool for kids. Also, it features an installation created by Ian Hamilton Finlay, a popular Scottish artist.
Another notable feature of the Schweizergarten is the monument of composer Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin. Considered as the first Chopin sculpture in Austria and unveiled in November 2010, the structure known as La Note Bleue was created by a Polish sculpture and was actually given as a present to the Vienna City government. Its design was based on the tradition of profile portraits or silhouettes which was a famous trend during the Romantic era. It is also worth noting that Chopin stayed in Vienna for three years from 1829 to 1831 specifically at Kohlmarkt 9.