We live in the third district of Vienna, also known as Landstrasse, literally “country street” because the district is centered around what used to be a sparsely populated road leading out of the city.
The district is now home to large residential and commercial areas. If we walk to the north and east of our apartment, we’ll pass hundreds of apartments along quiet streets. But parallel to our street, Baumgasse, on the west, is Landstrasse-Hauptstrasse (“country road-main road”), which is one of the main commercial arteries of the city. If we walk to the south, on the other hand, we quickly run into large convention centers, warehouses, and sports facilities.
It’s a place that reminds me of the neighborhood we lived in during the summer of 2014 in Prague–Břevnov–except bigger. Like Břevnov, Landstrasse is close to the center of the city, but far enough away that you don’t see a lot of tourists. There are grocery stores, gas stations, laundromats, a lot of buses, mediocre schnitzel restaurants, sausage stands, tiny dive bars populated by older locals as early as 10am, places to bet on sports–normal people things.
The major exception to these observations is the huge palace that lies almost hidden in the western part of the district–the Belvedere. The building complex, completed in 1723, was the great Austrian commander Prince Eugene’s (German:Prinz Eugen) summer palace.
The complex is surrounded by walls on four sides, with only a few small unassuming entrances. It’s easy to walk right past them on the sidewalk, distracted by the street traffic and other pedestrians, and completely miss them. I, in fact, did this during my first trip to Vienna in the summer of 2010.
In contrast to Prague, which offers numerous beautiful views from hills throughout the city, the most populated parts of Vienna are largely flat, meaning you might not see even huge landmarks like the Belvedere from very far away. The gardens in the rear of the Belvedere, however, slope slighly downwards, and therefore offer a gorgeous view of the inner city and of the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) on the horizon.