Favoriten: Migrants and More
Since last Dec., Vienna’s 10th District of Favoriten has once again been connected to the wider world, as the new Hauptbahnhof at Wiedner Gürtel opened its first section, and thousands of commuters and visitors flooded through the new station, easily recognisable from a distance by its dramatic, diamond-shaped roof.
Ever since construction began in 2010, the ÖBB has had a bahnorama, an impressive 66.7 metre high observation tower opposite the station, so that those interested could follow the work below. Just like the new station’s roof, the wooden tower is now a new landmark – to be moved to a new location when work is completed in 2015. For €2.50, you can take a lift up to the observation platform 40 metres above, where the view across the city is spectacular.
The new Central Station – replacing the old Südbahnhof – is the gateway to the Favoritenviertel: the heart of the district, and the scene of important chapters in the city’s history.
At its heart lies one of Favoriten’s busiest pedestrian shopping streets – Favoritenstraße, which runs parallel to the underground line U1.
The shopping area
Today, Favoriten is Vienna’s most populated district with 179,179 inhabitants, larger than Salzburg, Innsbruck or Klagenfurt. Its name comes from the former hunting chateau Favorita, parts of which now house the private Theresianum School in the 4th District.
In 1874, Favoriten became Vienna’s 10th district, the first outside the then city limits, now the Gürtel. Three years later, the grounds for the Viktor Adler Markt were laid along Favoritenstraße to serve the local population of primarily brick workers and Czech immigrants. It still operates today, though with modern stalls and shops, home to specialist butchers and spice importers.
Duran Sandwiches has one of its restaurants here. This well-known chain and caterer of exquisite sandwiches was founded 1969 by Vladimir and Eva Duran, a Czech immigrant couple. Self-service fast-food auf Österreichisch – the Austrian way – was a risky business back then, but proved a success. Today, Duran Sandwiches has four restaurants across Vienna.
The first market within the district was located at Columbus Platz, just off the station. It closed by 1890, and today is host to the Columbus Center, a modern shopping centre that opened in 2005 with 28 shops, behind its architectural ‘Egg of Columbus’ – an oval-shaped design in the centre’s glass façade.
Migrant and workers district
The social history of Vienna’s 10th District was shaped by increasing industrialisation over the 19th century. Brickyards flourished here after Empress Maria Theresa banned their manufacture from the inner city in 1757. Wienerberger, today the world’s largest manufacturer of clay bricks, had its roots in the outskirts of Favoriten.
It was the appalling living conditions of the brick workers that prompted Victor Adler (1852 – 1918), a doctor and founder of Austria’s first Social Democratic Party, to publish a series of features denouncing the conditions. Many workers were from Bohemia – hence the disparaging Viennese expression Ziegelbehm (lit. brick Bohemian).
Today, 23% of its residents were born outside of Austria, dominated by Serbs and Montenegran, followed by Turks. At the same time, Favoriten is a stronghold of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), who use the Viktor Adler Markt as their campaign hotspot.
The traditional cuisine has also changed. Some of the Würstelstandln now serve kebabs, and close to the Central Station on Favoritenstraße, there is a small Turkish restaurant and takeaway called Efendi, which bakes its own bread. At €2 for a chicken kebab, the traditional middle-Eastern dish comes at an unbeatable price.
The Amalienbad, at Reumannplatz (U1), is one of Vienna’s most beautiful public baths, built in 1926 during the height of
"Red Vienna’s" efforts to improve workers’ living conditions. Modelled after Roman thermal baths, its elegant interior is built in the Jugendstil style of Austrian Art-Déco. Today, as then, the monumental building dominates the square, providing space for 1,300 guests as one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
Although historically a workers district, Favoriten is host to some of Vienna’s most impressive churches. Heading south across Reumannplatz, towards the bus stops and the famed Eissalon Tichy, you cannot help noticing a massive church shining through the alley of trees along Neusetzgasse. The massive dome and two campanile bell towers of St. Anon von Padua creates the ambience of Italy on Vienna’s south side.
Opened in 1902, the church’s Roman-Byzantine structure is an homage to the Basilica of Heiligen Antonius in Padua; yet it was St. Marc’s Basilica of Venice that the architect, Franz von Neumann (1844 – 1905), had hoped to copy, until budget cuts forced a change of plans.
10., Reumannplatz 23
10., Favoritenstraße 51
10., Columbusplatz 7-8
10., Viktor-Adler-Markt 13
10., Favoritenstraße 76a
10., Wiedner Gürtel
Church St. Anton von Padua
10., Antonsplatz 1
10., Reumannplatz 13