The Jewish Quarters of Vienna has seen a long and tragic history but today offers an insight into the community’s history for travellers.
Vienna, the capital of Austria was once home to a large Jewish community that saw a wipeout and mass exodus when the Nazi Germany invaded this part of the country in 1938. Home to some of the most influential Jews in the world, such as psychologist Sigmund Freud as well as Theodore Herzl, known as the founder of the modern Zionist, Vienna’s connection with its Jewish community remains strong now in its old quarters as well as through monuments across the city. The history of Jews and remembrance and tributes for the atrocity that the community went through lives on in some parts of Vienna.
Though Leopoldstadt in the city also sees a concentration of the Jewish population, it is the area around Judenplatz and others that are interesting. Notable monuments to visit around Judenplatz include the Holocaust memorial, which is almost two decades old as well as the Jewish Museum of Vienna, one of the largest in Europe. The memorial leaves one with a sense of intensity, with a design of books in a library that have been said to symbolise the stories of victims of the Holocaust that have remained untold.
The baroque-styled buildings, among others in the winding lanes surrounding the Judenplatz take one back to the years when the Jewish community thrived here, and one can find the Stadttempel synagogue close by. The Stadttempel is the main synagogue of the city and has a rich history of its own, and is also known as the Seitenstettengasse Temple. Dating back to the 18th century, a visit to synagogue becomes an important part of the exploration of the Jewish Quarters.
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Jewish Quarter, Vienna, in the sun. pic.twitter.com/HfEgwFICnT
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Beyond the quarters
Despite Judenplatz and its surrounding parts holding key monuments, museum and the synagogue, it is by no means the only place in the city to experience the Jewish heritage. There are other interesting and notable sites that honour the Jewish heritage of the city such as the stairs named after Herzl, the Theodore Herzl Stiege. Another monument, at Morzinplatz, is visited by many and it is located on the former headquarters of the Gestapo.
One iconic monument, that marks an old ritual of making Jews scrub roads with toothbrushes has been captured in a monument, made by Austrian Alfred Hrdlicka right outside the popular Albertina Museum. For those interested to go beyond history and look at the community’s life today, there are other parts of the city that can be visited. The past few years have marked a growing Jewish population settling around the Karmelitermarkt, which is one such recommended areas to also stop by for a Kosher meal.
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