Wandering through Vienna’s streets it’s always worth keeping eye open for courtyards and passageways in which nestle shops, restaurants and galleries. Be warned they are not always obvious to the uninitiated despite the efforts of entrepreneurs to attract your attention with strategically placed signs. Part of the problem can be that despite the signs it’s not always obvious whether a doorway is a private or public entrance. Moreover, Vienna streets have so many signs directing you to shops or indicating offices and alike that after a while you tend to filter them out, the way we manage to not quite watch the TV commercials.
Many a Vienna passageway or courtyard provides a wonderful setting for restaurant, bar, or heurigen, a peaceful oasis in which to drink, eat and chat. Others are often home to interesting independent shops. If you do discover or regularly frequent such a location it’s always worth asking yourself about the history of the build(s) which surround you.
A favourite location of mine forms a useful short cut from the Vienna English Theatre and Veganista (the Vegan ice cream shop). It also has a surprising history.
Despite housing galleries, shops, restaurants, offices, apartments and flats (with assorted business signs on the main streets) the passageway linking Lerchenfelderstraße with Neustiftgasse is one of those locations that people seem to often miss. More than once lifelong residents of Vienna have been surprised when I’ve suggested we take this particular short cut. It was a the result of such surprise – and over a rather delicious vegan ice cream standing across the road looking at the buildings Neustiftgasse entrance – that we began to wonder about the buildings history. The name chosen for one of the restaurants, Monastiri, stimulated the debate and after a quick search on the internet we were deep in conversation about the former monastery built in 1847.
So next time you find yourself walking down a Vienna street watch out for one of those oasis with a history.