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“To smile or not to smile?”

Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof)
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Private Guided Tour of Musical Vienna
Ranked #20 of 561 things to do in Vienna
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Europe's second largest cemetery marks the final resting place for over 2.5 million people, including Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss.
Kingswinford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
34 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“To smile or not to smile?”
Reviewed February 1, 2014

I never ever thought that I would be writing a review of a visit to a cemetery! The experience of a visit to the Zentralfriedhof is, however, well worth sharing so here goes.

Getting there is very easy indeed. The quickest way is to take the U Bahn to Simmering and then the #6 or #71 tram to Tor 2. Alternatively the #71 can be used for the whole journey but takes longer. Tor 2 is the most convenient stop if the intention is to visit the Ehrengraber (Tombs of Honour) which is where the rich and famous are buried. Group 32a contains the graves of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Schoenberg and many of the Strauss family. There is a statue for Mozart but I understand he is actually buried in the St Marxer Friedhof where he was given a pauper’s burial in an unmarked mass grave.

It is only a short walk from Tor 2 to Group 32a and on the way the path goes between two semicircular buildings which contain some very elaborate graves. If it is possible to have a favourite grave mine would be that of August Zang who was a wealthy mine owner. His grave is like a mine entrance which is guarded by dwarves holding lanterns. Quite amazing. I half expected a dragon to appear!

I understand that over 2.5 million people are buried in the cemetery and it has it’s own bus service. Given the size of the place it is possible to spend quite some time there. I have been twice as I didn’t have time to find all the graves I wanted to see on my first trip.

Naturally, I had my photo taken by the graves of Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. Not any of the Strauss family though as I can’t stand their music. Sorry. The big dilemma I had was whether to smile or not. I am not quite sure of the etiquette for having a graveside photo taken. When I visited Jack Kerouac’s grave in Lowell, MA I adopted a reasonably cheerful expression. After all I had travelled almost 4,000 miles to see it and I should be happy that I had made it! For Beethoven I decided to look a bit more pensive as I felt he merited it. I also hummed the funeral march from the Eroica Symphony to give the occasion more gravitas.

On a more serious note, for those interested in the graves of dead composers in the Vienna area I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Mahler’s grave in Grinzing. Take the U Bahn to Heiligenstadt and than the 38a bus to Grinzing. Rather optimistically I expected to see a sign pointing me in the direction of Mahler’s grave but alas there was none. The Friedhof can be found by following the tramlines out of the village. Only a short walk but it is a big cemetery and I suggest that a gardener be asked for directions to the grave.

Overall, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Zentralfriedhof. Even if you are not interested in seeing the graves of dead composers and singers, the sheer size of the place is worth seeing as are many of the elaborate gravestones and tombs.

Visited January 2014
2 Thank ST1951
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Kalamazoo, Michigan
Level Contributor
88 reviews
66 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“just hop on the tram”
Reviewed January 31, 2014

We stopped to see Mozart's grave elsewhere before ending up at the Central Cemetery but we enjoyed both. This one is huge--we could see it from the plane--and after spending some time in the composers' section we just wandered around the various monuments. Definitely find your way over to the Jewish section though. While it is sadly derelict because of its history, there are also some of the most beautiful mausoleums over there. Very moving. Make sure to leave before dark.

Visited March 2013
1 Thank Chloeah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Watford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
361 reviews
193 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 197 helpful votes
“Interesting but only a short visit”
Reviewed January 19, 2014

We had a free afternoon so we took advantage of Vienna's fantastic public transport system to head out to the Zentralfriedhof. Make sure you don't get off at the first stop, or you will have a particularly long walk to get to the graves of the famous composers. It is free to get in and we asked the friendly man at the entrance for a map, then made our way to the composer's area. It is quite surreal seeing the memorials and graves of men like Beethoven and puts into perspective the contributions Austria has made to world culture. While this was interesting, it didn't take long to see them, and other than that it is basically just a really big cemetery. We had a bit more of a look around but there wasn't much else to see so we headed back to the tram. While we enjoyed it, don't expect there to be much for the kids to do, nor for a whole day's or even afternoon's worth of sightseeing. Still worth a look if you can fit it in though.

Visited December 2013
1 Thank CrashMan47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
198 reviews
138 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Massive and beautiful”
Reviewed January 18, 2014

I love exploring cemeteries and this one did not disappoint. I wish I would have had more time, as it is a very large cemetery. The composer's area (go through the 2nd gate and walk towards the church right down the middle, it will be on the left) is a nice tribute to the greats. Although Mozart is not buried there, he is included with a monument. Take the time to go outside of town and see this beautiful place.

Visited January 2014
1 Thank hannajomeans
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Altadena CA, USA
Level Contributor
149 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Literally, it's the end of the line!”
Reviewed January 10, 2014

We love taking public transportation when in new places to see where we end up. The 71 tram (Zentrafriedhof) was our discovery. It ends at the Central Cemetery, which we knew nothing about. What a fantastic discovery, especially since we like visiting cemeteries! There are several well known deceased (Victor Frankle, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Strass ) among the estimated 3 million burials. It is a beautiful park-like, peaceful setting with impressive monuments, chapels, churches and even BUS STOPS to take you around. You can take the 71 and get off at Tor (gate) 2 explore the cemetery and end up at Tor 3 to pick up the tram to central Vienna. If you like cemeteries, this is a must. Not creepy at all. Don't be surprised to witness a funeral and burial, with over 25 daily taking place currently. read up on its history before you go to get the full impact of the cemetery. Plan on several hours if you want to visit specific graves, other wise an hour or two will do.

Visited December 2013
1 Thank mtd330
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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