Spend a morning or afternoon exploring Vienna’s First District to learn more about the city’s once-thriving Jewish community and the devastating effects that the Nazi occupation had on its residents. Today, the First District teems with restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues, but our guide will help you look deeper to discover more about the Jews who lived and died here.
At Judenplatz, a museum dedicated to Viennese Jewish life in the Middle Ages, you’ll visit an excavation that’s uncovered a medieval synagogue under the museum. Additionally, you can visit Palais Eskeles, a palatial white building with wrought-iron detailing that houses exhibits illustrating the history of Jewish Vienna.
You’ll also see memorials dedicated to Jewish life in Vienna across the city, including one carved from granite sourced from a quarry at the Mauthausen concentration camp, where prisoners were deliberately worked to death. Another memorial is engraved with the names of other camps where an estimated 65,000 Austrian Jews were killed.
Meet your private guide at your hotel before heading into Vienna’s First District for this half-day walking tour. You’ll walk through the cobblestone streets to reach the Holocaust Memorial and the Memorial Against War and Fascism.
The Holocaust Memorial is a solemn concrete building, standing in the middle of an open square. When you get up close, you’ll see the walls of the memorial resemble book pages, as if they had been put on a shelf spine-first. The doors to the building do not open, and the platform it sits upon is engraved with the names of the concentration camps where an estimated 65,000 Austrian Jews were killed. There’s also a dedication written in German, English and Hebrew in memory of those who died.
Located near the Holocaust Memorial, Judenplatz is a museum dedicated to Jewish life in Vienna. Your guide will bring you to the archaeological site of a medieval synagogue, visible beneath the museum. Both the memorial and Judenplatz are located in the square that was the hub of Viennese Jewish life in the Middle Ages.
On the tour you’ll also see the Jewish Museum Vienna, housed in the grandiose white Palais Eskeles. The museum features a collection of materials about the history of Jewish Vienna, spread throughout multiple floors.
Finally, you’ll visit the Memorial Against War and Fascism, which is located in Albertinaplatz, behind Vienna’s Opera House. The memorial comprises four granite statues, including a split statue representing the Gates of Violence — the entrances to the camps. There are also carved images of a chained slave, as well as clubs and gas masks, which were common sights during Nazi occupancy. A visit to the grim memorial, carved of granite from the Mauthausen camp, is an important part of understanding the atrocities of World War II in Vienna.