On one Sunday a year, various heritage sites in Vienna open their doors to celebrate the Tag des Denkmals – Austria’s contribution to the European Heritage Days programme.
It’s your chance to see inside buildings normally shut to the public, or take tours only offered on this one special day. And all for free.
- Huge number of participating sites and organisations
- Some places really do open for one day only
- Event is popular with locals, too
- Free entry
- The 2019 date is Sunday, September 29
- See also: What to do in Vienna
What is the Tag des Denkmals?
Around 50 countries participate in the European Heritage Days, an initiative first launched back in 1985.
The aim is to give people the chance to enjoy their rich and shared cultural heritage for free, so they might learn to treasure that same heritage. It’s a nice thought.
In Austria, this one-day event is called (rather impressively) the Tag des Denkmals (English: Monument Day) and run by the government department responsible for protecting the country’s cultural and historical sites.
On this day, various locations across Vienna and elsewhere open their doors to visitors for free. On top of that, many also offer special guided tours or other little bonus experiences. Some participating sites are not even normally open to the public.
The event is traditionally held on the last Sunday in September, which means September 29 in 2019.
It’s too early for a 2019 programme, which should become available at the official website in July (in German, but…Google Translate). Here’s a look back at the 2018 event so you get a feel for the opportunities:
Over 40 institutions participated. Some of the locations needed you to register in advance for a tour, and many of these were booked out. So there’s an obvious lesson if you find something you’re particularly interested in, and it’s registration-only.
Various well-known sites were involved, such as the National Library, but also some rarer sites and opportunities that waved at me from the programme. For example:
- The study of Emperor Francis I/II in the Hofburg winter palace (2018 was the first time the public had been given access)
- The Iraqi and French embassies: the former is in the Palais Larisch-Moennich (built in the 1860s), the latter an Art Nouveau building finished in 1912
- The HQ of the OPEC Fund for International Development in Palais Deutschmeister (also built in the 1860s)
- The HQ of the Austrian book trade association in Palais Fürstenberg, built in the early 1700s
- The Palais Niederösterreich event centre, which traces its roots back to the early 16th century
- Billrothhaus, built in the late 19th century and home to the Association of Physicians
- The Karl-Marx-Hof, completed in 1930 and one of the longest residential buildings in the world. Known locally as the “Worker’s Versailles” (it has less gold, more concrete)
- The Brenner Wohnung, which is the only council flat in Vienna with a preservation order on it
As you can see, the Heritage Day has more than the odd gem or two to wander around. If you happen to be in Vienna on September 29, make the most of it.