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.
- Large number of participating sites and organisations
- Some places really do open for one day only in the year
- Event is popular with locals, too
- Free entry
- 2022 date: TBA (was Sept 26 in 2021)
- See also: What to do in September | 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 many cultural and historical sites.
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?
(The museums of the National Library typically participate in the Heritage Day)
For example, the Hofburg Palace regularly opens parts of the complex otherwise closed to visitors. One year, for example, you got to see the Ahnensaal (Hall of Ancestors) and the room where Emperor Francis I/II died in 1835. Or you might discover the work of the in-house fire brigade.
In past years, places such as the Iraqi embassy (in Palais Larisch-Moennich), the OPEC Fund for International Development (in Palais Deutschmeister), and the Austrian book trade association (in Palais Fürstenberg) have all welcomed sightseers.
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 tours fill up 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.
They traditionally hold the event on the last Sunday in September, which would mean the 25th in 2022 (but I await official confirmation).
As you can tell, the Heritage Day has more than the odd gem or two to wander around. So, f you happen to be in Vienna on the right date, then make the most of it.