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 to take tours only offered on this one special day. And all for free.
- Large number of participating sites and organisations
- Some places really do open for one day only in the year
- Event is popular with locals
- Free entry
- 2024 date: TBA (was Sept 24 in 2023)
- …traditionally last Sunday in September
- See also:
What is the Tag des Denkmals?
(The museums of the National Library typically participate in the Heritage Day)
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 experience carries the rather impressive name Tag des Denkmals (English: Monument Day). The government department responsible for protecting the country’s many cultural and historical sites organises the event.
On this day, various locations across Vienna and the rest of Austria 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 may even remain closed to the public for the rest of the year.
What can you see?
(We enjoyed a fantastic architectural tour of the Billrothhaus in 2023)
For example, the Hofburg regularly opens parts of the former Habsburg complex otherwise closed to visitors. In 2023, you got to see the Ahnensaal (Hall of Ancestors) and the room where Emperor Francis I/II died in 1835. And discovered the work of the Hofburg’s in-house fire brigade.
The Iraqi (in Palais Larisch-Moennich) and French embassies often participate, for example. In past years, places such as the OPEC Fund for International Development (in Palais Deutschmeister) and the Austrian book trade association (in Palais Fürstenberg) have also welcomed sightseers.
In 2023, we visited:
- The former apartment of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (pioneering architect and champion of feminism)
- The refurbished Casino Zögernitz (a classic building from the Biedermeier era, now reopening as venue, café-restaurant, music centre and Strauss museum)
- The Billrothhaus (home to the Gesellschaft der Ärzte in Wien and well-known set for period TV productions)
Selected locations seem to repeat each year, while others change. So keep a timely eye out for the official programme.
Tours may need advance registration, and many fill up (very) fast. So there’s an obvious lesson if you find something at the website you’re particularly interested in and it’s a registration-only event: sign up quickly. Expect most tours to be in German, though.
They traditionally hold the event on the last Sunday in September, which means the 24th in 2023.
As you can tell, the Heritage Day has more than the odd gem or two to wander around. So, if you happen to be in Vienna on the right date, then make the most of it.