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 2020 date is Sunday, September 27
- See also: What to do in Vienna | Open House 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 27 in 2020.
[Keep a timely eye out for the programme, as some of the locations need you to register in advance for a tour, and many tours fill up fast. So there’s an obvious lesson if you find something you’re particularly interested in, and it’s registration-only.]
It’s too early for details of the 2020 programme, but here’s a look back at the previous event to show you what to expect…
Over 40 institutions opened their doors for the 2019 event.
(The museums of the National Library participate in the Heritage Day)
- Areas of the Hofburg Palace normally closed to visitors, like the Ahnensaal (Hall of Ancestors) or the room where Emperor Francis I/II died in 1835
- 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 Augustinerkirche, with a tour of the crypt housing the hearts of past Habsburgs
- The Bulgarian Cultural Institute, whose building happens to be the townhouse designed by the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein
- Billrothhaus, built in the late 19th century and home to the Association of Physicians
- The HQ of the Austrian book trade association in Palais Fürstenberg, built in the early 1700s
- 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 former home of painter, Hans Makart, in the grounds of the former imperial foundry
(See the official website for the full programme, once available.)
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 27, make the most of it.