What is Secret Vienna?
Secret Vienna is a tour company and blog that provide tours and information about the hidden gems of Vienna in an entertaining and educational way. Some of their public tours are Elitist and Discreet Societies, The Dark Side of Vienna, and The Secrets of a Dictator- Hitler’s Vienna. They provide these tours both in English and in German.
At 10am on a bitterly cold gray morning, a group of us met in front of Palais Harrach. I had no idea what to expect; I wondered how long the tour would be and if we were going to travel far. To my surprise, my questions were answered in the beginning of the tour – all of the spots we were planning to visit were in easy walking distance and the tour was expected to last about 2 hours. They did warn us in an e-mail, sent the day before, to dress warmly since their tours are held in all types of weather. So, as I bite my lip in anger at myself for not wearing those thermal tights underneath my pants, I followed the group, secretly wondering if I was going to feel my legs at the end of this tour (I did).
Wolfgang, our certified Austrian tour guide, was charming, polite, and extremely knowledge on the ins and outs of Vienna and her history.
I don’t want to give away TOO much away, because I recommend you take this tour – so, I share with you below some of the places we visited and what we learned along the way:
- We visited a hidden beer garden in the center of the city. It is special because it’s within a courtyard that shields the garden from outside noise.
- A Scottish monastery and a present-day school for monks.
- An area where the former city wall still stands.
- Former underground homes of the lower-class.
What We Learned:
- The poor / lower-class families used to live underground, some as far as 7 layers underneath ground level. A 20-member family and their horses would live in an underground space, with no natural light or windows (we got to see first-hand where they lived).
- Beethoven had 62 homes.
- There is an interesting connection between taxes and destroyed roof-tops.
- Vienna used to be full of small rivers that eventually got redirected into a new river bed.
- The one cafe Lenin and Adolf Hitler used to visit is one of the most famous Viennese cafes ever
- …and so many more interesting and intriguing facts…
I really enjoyed the tour and learning about Vienna in a new light. I am already organizing a group of people to join me on the Elitist and Discreet Societies this Spring, so if you’re interested to come along with us, just let me know!