Vienna’s Central Cemetery is the Second Largest Graveyard in Europe

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (11/04/2008)

Vienna’s Central Cemetery is the Second Largest Graveyard in Europe

Some 330,000 graves containing three million dead

Vienna – The central cemetery, opened in year 1874, where Vienna’s former mayor Helmut Zilk was buried on Saturday, is the second largest cemetery in Europe according to surface size. Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, 3.9 square kilometers, is considerably bigger. But Vienna’s cemetery contains three million dead, considerably more that that of Northern Germany’s cemetery with 1.7 million.

Vienna’s central cemetery, containing 330,000 graves was designed as an interdenominational cemetery, in which next to the Catholic portion, also the majority of other recognized religions have their particular areas. There is an old and a new Jewish cemetery, an evangelical cemetery and Islamic section as well as Romanian, Russian, Greek, Syrian and Coptic Orthodox. Since 2003 an area has been designated for Buddhists.

Vienna’s central cemetery is not only famous for its graves honoring some one thousand well-known personalities. An honorary grave represents in Vienna the highest decoration which the City can award beyond one’s death. Among others are composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven, members of the Strauß dynasty, Franz Schubert, Arnold Schönberg, as well as Falco. Among writers, there are Johann Nestroy, Franz Werfel and Karl Kraus. Architect Adolf Loos and also legendary actors Curd Jürgens, Paul Hörbiger and Hans Moser have also found their lasting peace at the cemetary. The same can be said for Federal presidents since 1945, who have been buried in their own crypts.

The central cemetery was constructed after the strong growth of the city in 1850. When the municipal cemeteries were deemed too small, the community council decided upon the location of the central cemetery to be in the district of Simmering and was opened on November 1, 1874.

Today the most excpetional architectural piece is Max Hegele’s Church of Saint Karl Borromäus, which was opened in 1910. In the vernacular, it is considered the most important Jugendstil church structure, often referred to as the Lueger-Kirche because beneath the main alter lies the crypt of the famous mayor, Karl Lueger. Architecturally interesting is also the fire hall of Simmering, opened in 1922 and built according the plans of Clemens Holzmeister.

Due to its size, the cemetery can be accessed by car for a minor fee. Moreover, since 1971, public transportation is available with bus number 106.