Austria and Vienna are not short of a few famous local and adopted sons and daughters, and a good selection of them found their last resting place in the Zentralfriedhof (Vienna’s main cemetery).
If you visit the site, you won’t find big neon signs pointing to the most interesting graves and crypts, which is fair enough as it’s a working cemetery and not really a tourist attraction.
But I’ve pulled together some names and directions for you. So if you want to stand within a yard or two of Beethoven, read on.
The first thing you need to know is that most of the famous graves are in special groups known as Ehrengräber (honorary graves). The award of an Ehrengrab in the Zentralfriedhof is one of the highest honors the city can bestow on someone.
Aside from the Ehrengräber, it’s also worth noting the Präsidentengruft (Presidential Crypt). This is where all the post-WWII Austrian presidents are buried, most recently Thomas Klestil, who tragically passed away just two days before the end of his term of office in July 2004.
First off, familiarize yourself with the cemetery’s broad layout using this map.
You should enter through the main entrance (called “Tor 2” – bottom center of the map, where the red 2 is). Tor 2 is a stop on tram no. 71.
There are four main sections dedicated to Ehrengräber, labelled group 32A, group 32C, group 33G and group 40.
To find them, go through Tor 2 and carry on straight ahead on the avenue towards the large Jugendstil church you can see in the distance and between the large stone arcades.
The second section on the left after the arcades is Group 32A. The Präsidentengruft is directly ahead of you, just before the church. To its left are groups 32C and 33G. To find group 40, go west from the Präsidentengruft and keep on going until you find it. (All the groups are labeled with small signs.)
Each group contains a number of famous graves, though most of them won’t mean anything unless you’re familiar with Austrian and Viennese culture and history.
Here’s a list of the more famous ones…
- Ludwig Van Beethoven (yes, the Beethoven; died in 1827, grave 29 in the group. See also this dedicated article on Beethoven’s last resting place.)
- Johannes Brahms (yes, the Brahms; died in 1897, grave 26)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (grave 55, sort of – this is a memorial only. The original grave is in St.Marx cemetery)
- Franz Schubert (yes, the Schubert; died in 1828, grave 28. See here for details)
- Johann Nestroy (the famous playwright; died in 1862, grave 6)
- Johann Strauss (Jnr) (the most famous of the family; died 1899, grave 27 – look around to find the others here, too)
- Arnold Schönberg (the modern composer: died 1951, grave 21a)
- Falco (Hans Hölzel. Died in a road accident in 1998, grave 64)
You’ll notice that some of the above died well before the Zentralfriedhof was constructed. They were moved there to create the Ehrengräber as a means of encouraging people to visit the cemetery despite its distance from the city center.
Various other “celebrities” were buried in the Zentralfriedhof but for whatever reasons didn’t get a place in one of those main Ehrengräber groups. These include…
- Antonio Salieri (Mozart’s rival in the film Amadeus, though that’s not historically accurate: died 1825, Group 0, grave 54 – along the outer cemetery wall going north from entrance/Tor 3)
- Ludwig Boltzmann (died 1906. Physicist. His famous equation on entropy is engraved on his memorial stone. Group 14C, grave 1 – on the right just before you reach the presidential crypt)
- Mercedes Jellinek (died 1929, group 59C, crypt 26: this is the lady who gave her name to the car, go northwest from the church to find the group)
Address: Zentralfriedhof, Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, 1110 Vienna (for travel directions, see the main cemetery article.)