Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Augarten: a Bike Friendly Palace

This past Sunday I had some free time and visited my favourite park in Vienna: the sprawling grounds of the Augarten Palace. This is one of the lesser known Viennese parks, but I love it because of its baroque gardens and enchanted atmosphere. Unlike so many other city parks, it allows bicycles. You can cycle both along the outside perimeter and within the park grounds.

This is the view from the trail along the outside walls. It goes on and on and is lined with short, spider-like chestnut trees that bring to mind those in the paintings of Egon Schiele - my favourite expressionist painter, who worked in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century.

The entrance into the park is lined with tall chestnut trees. As you can see it was not a very pretty day. But in a way that makes the park grounds look all the more dramatic.

Landscaped lawn in front of the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory; flying crows.

In addition to the formal gardens, there is a network of maze-like alleyways.

There are still some spots left with beautiful foliage.

Most of the cyclists I see in the Augarten are parents with young children. Here is a mother carting around two toddlers in a cargo trike.

One of the more bizarre sights of the park: In the distance you can see one of the two Flak Towers constructed during WWII by the Luftwaffe to defend Vienna against Allied air raids. The towers have been left intact after the war for historical preservation purposes. Up till now, they have been kept empty, but developers are now considering installing a cinema in one of them. This is just one of the many architectural testaments to Vienna's conflicted history. The presence of the towers is both disturbing and thought provoking - especially in juxtaposition with the Baroque gardens.

Another parent cyclist, with a toddler in the child's seat.

There he goes, cycling along my favourite ivy-covered wall.

I love the way the ivy drapes over the faded brick.

You can't really tell here, but this door is tiny. Walking through it feels very Alice in Wonderland.

One of the many buildings along the park grounds that I find striking. It looks "thoughtful" to me. Maybe it is just my imagination running wild, but the park seems to have an otherworldly feel to it and I find it very appealing. If I do have time to rent a bicycle over the next two weeks, this will be one of my first destinations.

9 comments:

  1. It is other worldly , Beautiful, thanks for the pics.
    Jon C.

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  2. You captured the other-worldliness quite well. There's something very quiet about these buildings, trees and lanes in the gray light.

    I was in Austria some years ago but ridiculously did not make it to Vienna. These photos and yesterday's cafe shots have made me think it's time to return and do a better job.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

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  3. What a heavenly place to cycle. Did you hire a Citibike and do it too? Or was it Filigree-on-Foot? I love the graciousness of European palaces. The symmetry is such that they don't look huge until you see a human standing next to them. It looks almost as if you had the place to yourself. One of the blessings of this time of year; I can imagine it in summer!

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  4. What a beautiful destination place to ride your to. Hopefully there is a cafe nearby to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate!

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  5. Mike - Where were you in Austria? Salzburg and some other parts are quite nice as well.

    Carinthia - This was on foot. You are right about it being semi-abandonned. Unlike the other parks and palaces in Vienna, this one is not well known and therefore is not a tourist destination. Just a few local joggers and cyclists were out on that cold and dreary Sunday afternoon.

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  6. That is a gorgeous park! Very European ;)

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  7. Wow, that light is lovely, though almost oppressive. It reminds me a little of my years up on the Puget Sound, though not quite as blue as WA state air seems to be.

    I think "otherworldly" touches on it quite well.

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  8. Funny that looking at this post now I recognise the cargo bike as a Christiania!

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