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Vienna for Beethoven Fans – Sights to Celebrate Beethoven’s 250th Birthday

Vienna for Beethoven Fans – Sights to Celebrate Beethoven’s 250th Birthday

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethoven Statue Pfarrplatz Heiligenstadt

2020 marks the 250th birthday of one of the greatest musical minds – Ludwig van Beethoven. Cynics say that the biggest achievement of Austria was to sell Hitler as German and Beethoven as Austrian. Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, but spent a large part of his life in Vienna. On the occasion of his birthday, I went on an extensive mission to explore the many places which pay tribute to this genius. This guide focuses on two main areas – Vienna’s Heiligenstadt and the First District, the city centre – but also on locations a bit further outside of the centre. I have included selected places where Beethoven lived (there are almost 40), statues and other places which remind us of the composer.

Beethoven permanently moved to Vienna in 1792 as the student of Joseph Haydn. He previously visited Vienna a few years prior to be taught by Mozart. However, he had to go back to Germany due to the worsening health condition of his mother. Beethoven stayed in Vienna for 35 years, until his death in 1827.

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethovenstatue Grinzing
Beethoven statue in the park at Kahlenbergerstrasse Grinzing

It is very challenging to nail down every single house in which Beethoven lived during his time in Vienna. In the 18th and 19th century it was quite common to not have one dedicated home. It was nothing out of the ordinary to be what we would call today a “nomad”. Many people did not own furniture. Their belongings fit into a suitcase and could be taken with their owners relatively easily.

Vienna at that time was a stuffy city, especially in summer. It was quite common to escape the tiny apartments and go to the countryside. When the Viennese came back in autumn, it was not unusual to move into different house.

Beethoven in Heiligenstadt

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethovenhaus Map Pfarrplatz Heiligenstadt
Map of Beethoven locations in Heiligenstadt (next to the Beethoven House at Pfarrplatz)

Probably one of the best-known “Beethoven Houses” is the one located in Vienna’s Döbling district. The area is called Heiligenstadt. Even though it is part of Vienna today, at Beethoven’s times, it used to be a town outside of Vienna which was and still is well-known for wine cultivation. Beethoven sought refuge in this town to cure or at least improve his worsening hearing difficulties.

The house at Probusgasse 6 is also closely linked to Beethoven’s hearing disease. In 1802 he wrote his “Heiligenstädter Testament”, a letter to his brothers which he never ended up sending. In this will, he openly shared his despair about the disease.

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethoven Museum Heiligenstadt
Beethoven Museum in one of his houses at Probusgasse in Heiligenstadt

The house at Probusgasse is a museum today. In six rooms, visitors can learn more about Beethoven’s personal story, his musical work and his personal struggle with losing his hearing. In my opinion, it targets “Beethoven beginners” in the sense that it offers a lot of information for those who may know his music but do not know too much about Beethoven himself. For avid Beethoven fans it may not be a must-see content-wise, but it is quite impressive to enter the rooms where he composed the first sketches of his later 3rd Symphony, the “Eroica”.

I found the room dedicated to the Heiligenstädter Testament most interesting. It was very touching to read how he himself experienced the disease. Furthermore, there are audio stations on the side which make it possible to experience his hearing loss. Visitors can listen to famous Beethoven works in a way he heard them at the different stages of his disease.

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethovenhaus Pfarrplatz Heiligenstadt
Beethoven House at Pfarrplatz in Heiligenstadt

If you turn right when leaving the Beethoven House and walk down Probusgasse, you will reach another house at Pfarrplatz where Beethoven stayed in 1817. Inside the courtyard, there is a Beethoven statue as well. The square called Pfarrplatz also marks the start of the Eroicagasse, the street named after Beethoven’s symphony. (If you are hungry, I highly recommend to try the local food at Pfarrwirt right next to the church.)

If you turn left when leaving the Beethoven House in Probusgasse and walk towards Grinzinger Straße, there is a Beethoven Statue at Heiligenstädter Park and another Beethoven House at Grinzinger Straße 64, where he lived in 1808.

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethovenhaus Grinzinger Strasse
Beethoven House at Grinzinger Straße 64

I highly recommend a walk through the Grinzing neighbourhood and its beautiful houses. Walk along Springsiedelgasse until you reach Kahlenbergerstraße. Inside the park, there is a Beethoven statue. You can then stroll along Beethovengang which is a lovely lane along a creek.

Beethoven in the First District

There are many more houses in which Beethoven lived and which are scattered across the city. The second famous one is the Pasqualatihaus, at the Mölker Bastei in the First District. Beethoven lived in the house of one of his most important patrons, Johann Baptist Freiherr von Pasqualati, intermittently for eight years. Like its counterpart in Heiligenstadt, it is a museum today and offers further insights into Beethoven’s life.

It can be assumed that Beethoven composed his 5th and 6th Symphony at the Pasqualatihaus and in Baden and Heiligenstadt during the summer months. Furthermore, the piano piece “Für Elise” was also composed at this location.

In addition to it being a former residence of Beethoven, I recommend visiting also because of the beautiful hidden courtyard.

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Pasqualatihaus
Courtyard of the Pasqualatihaus – one of Beethoven’s homes in the city centre

Another important Beethoven landmark is his statue at Beethovenplatz – near the Stadtpark and just outside of Schubertring.

Beethoven’s Grave

Beethoven was originally buried at the cemetery in Vienna’s Währing district. When the Vienna Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) was built, many famous graves were moved to “upgrade” the new cemetery. Similar to Schubert, Beethoven’s grave was moved and is now part of the Ehrengräber section, the honorary graves.

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethoven Grave
Beethoven’s grave at the Zentralfriedhof

Beethoven was laid to rest among many of his colleagues – the aforementioned Schubert and the Strauss dynasty, for example. Even though the cemetery is in an outer district of Vienna, I recommend venturing out there – not only to visit Beethoven’s grave but also to explore the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) architecture and the layout of one of the most innovative cemeteries of its time.

Beethoven Frieze at the Secession

There are homages to Beethoven throughout the city – from street names, to squares, statues, museums and residential houses. Probably one of the most beautiful tributes is the Beethoven Frieze at the Secession.

The Secession was built by the Vienna Secession, an art movement close to the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) founded by the likes of Gustav Klimt, Kolo Moser, Josef Hoffmann and Otto Wagner. On the occasion of a new type of exhibition, Gustav Klimt painted the Beethoven Frieze. It was one of 21 artworks  by Secession members. The centre was a Beethoven statue by Max Klinger. The frieze was exhibited at the left side of the Secession’s main hall and was later purchased by  art collector Carl Reininghaus. It changed owners and was also aryanized. It was purchased by the Republic of Austria only in the 1970s. In 1986, the fresco was permanently installed in its current location – a side room of the Secession which was erected to display the frieze.

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethoven Frieze Secession
Part of the Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt at the Secession. This details shows the dangers humanity has to face on the search for happiness.

Klimt was inspired by Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony: humankind’s search for happiness.

On the frieze’s left side the “Well-Armed Strongman” leaves in search for happiness and is encouraged by the two allegories of ambition and compassion. The narrow wall, directly opposite of the entrance shows the dangers and tempations faced by humans on their search for happiness. The “Hostile Forces” are depicted in the form of monsters, the three Gorgon Sisters, sickness, madness, death and “gnawing grief”. The last wall shows that humanity finds happiness in poetry (depicted by a woman holding a lyre). In the original frieze layout for the exhibition, Klimt left a section empty for an opening allowing a view to Klinger’s Beethoven sculpture. At the end of the frieze, female figures symbolizing the arts lead humanity into the realms of art.

Beethoven Outside of Vienna

Like many affluent Viennese, Beethoven escaped the city in summer. One of the destinations was Baden. This town is located about 30 minutes from Vienna and is known for its thermal spa. 

Vienna for Beethoven Fans The Must See Sights in Vienna at Beethovens 250th Birthday Beethovenhaus Baden
Beethoven Haus in Baden, about 30 minutes from Vienna

Like in Vienna, there is a Beethoven House (he stayed there in the summer months of 1821, 1822 and 1823 and composed a large part of his famous 9th Symphony.

Information about the Beethoven Locations

Beethoven Museum Probusgasse (Heiligenstadt)

Tuesdays – Sundays 10 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 6 pm (special times on 24 and 31 December). The museum is open on public holidays, except on those public holidays which are on a Monday and on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.

A regular ticket is EUR 7 (about USD 8.30), concessions and special tickets (for the houses of famous composers who have lived in Vienna) are available.

The Beethoven Museum can be reached by:

Tram 37 – exit at the final station Hohe Warte and walk about 5-10 minutes.

Tram 38 – exit at the final station Grinzing and walk about 10-15 minutes. (You will pass by the Beethoven Haus at Grinzinger Straße 64.)

Subway (U-Bahn) U4 until final station Heiligenstadt and walk for 15 minutes. (This is the least scenic route.)

As parking is limited and the streets are very narrow in this district, I recommend taking public transport.

Beethoven Museum Pasqualatihaus

Tuesdays – Sundays 10 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 6 pm (special times on 24 and 31 December). The museum is open on public holidays, except on those public holidays which are on a Monday and on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.

A regular ticket is EUR 5 (about USD 6), concessions and special tickets (for the houses of famous composers who have lived in Vienna) are available.

Secession

Tuesdays – Sundays 2pm – 6 pm (special times on 31 December and 1 January)

Closed on 24 and 25 December.

A regular ticket is EUR 9.50 (USD 11.30), concessions are available.

The Secession is located right at the exit of the subways station Karlsplatz which can be reached with the lines U1, 2 and 4. It is also conveniently located from the first district and you can walk there.

Beethovenhaus Baden 

Tuesdays – Sundays and on public holidays 10 am – 6 pm (special opening times on 24 and 31 December)

A regular ticket is EUR 6 (about USD 7).

See Also
Vienna Street Art Guide Filgradergasse Garage Landscape

Baden can be conveniently reached by the Badner Bahn or the Bus 360 (Casinobus) from the station at the Vienna State Opera. Leave at the final station Josefsplatz in Baden and walk about 5 minutes to the Beethovenhaus.

You can also take the train by the ÖBB or the S-Bahn which leave Vienna Main Station at regular intervals. It is a 10-minute-walk from the train station in Baden towards the Beethovenhaus. (I would recommend the more scenic Badner Bahn if you have time.)

Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemeteray)

Learn more about the Zentralfriedhof in my article here.


More Arts & Culture

Jugendstil in and around Vienna: Steinhof ChurchResidential Buildings in Brunn am Gebirge, Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery)

Street Art: ViennaBangkokHong KongSingaporeFengjing (China)Zagreb

Online Arts and Culture – Can Digital Presence Really Make up for Closed Museums?

Body-Related Feminist Art – Interview with Hungarian Artist Klara Petra Szabo

SHOW OFF – Austrian Fashion Design Exhibition Review

Curating in the Digital Age – Interview with Alexandra Schantl, Head of Collections for Art after 1960 of the Cultural Department of Lower Austria

Social Media for Museums – Interview with Ivana Novoselac, Albertina Museum Vienna

More about Vienna and Austria

City Guide Vienna

Vienna Ultimate Guide and Quick Guide

Things to Do in Vienna in Spring and Autumn

Business Style Guide – What to Wear in Vienna in Winter

Coffee Guide Vienna

Innsbruck Ultimate Guide and Mini Guide

Salzburg Ultimate Guide and Mini Guide

Sound of Music: Salzkammergut and Werfen


Sources: Information supplied at the location and on the websites of: Beethoven Museum, Beethoven Pasqualatihaus, Secession Vienna, Beethovenhaus Baden. Information about the Zentralfriedhof on viennatouristguide.at, the information available at the location and during a guided tour by Verein Wiener Spaziergänge in which the author participated.

All information as of the date of publishing/updating and based on the personal visit of Elisabeth Steiger. We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date. All recommendations are based on the personal experience of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the recommended places above.

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