One of the pleasures of Vienna is the many historical connections between people and places. And so it is with the Ankerhaus in the very centre of the city.
- Late 19th-century house designed by Otto Wagner
- Friedensreich Hundertwasser had his studio in the rooftop
- See also:
History and Hundertwasser
(In the pedestrianised centre of Vienna)
The Ankerhaus stands on the Graben street and went up in 1894/1895 to a design by the famous architect, Otto Wagner.
The Anker Insurance Company commissioned the edifice (hence the moniker), and that’s a name you might recognise from an iconic sight just a little further away. The same company built the Ankeruhr mechanical clock that attracts scores of visitors at the top of the hour for its musical display.
Anker now operate under the name Helvetia and still occupy parts of the Ankerhaus, as you can see in the photo above. Unusually for today’s Graben, the building does not belong to a wider façade since side streets flank both sides.
With the new construction, Wagner created a pioneering multi-functional building with shop space on the lower floor, room for offices and apartments, and a rooftop studio or workshop.
(Otto Wagner’s original designs: the façade facing the Graben and cross-section, 1894; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 96005/12; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
That rooftop space proved an attractive proposition to the artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who apparently once had his studio up there.
You can imagine what thoughts Hundertwasser might have had looking out across a sea of architecture that bore little resemblance to the curves and colours flowing through his own creations.
The historical connections don’t stop there, either.
Thanks to the central location, the Ankerhaus site enjoyed a lengthy past that reaches back many centuries.
For example, one of Vienna’s earliest coffee houses opened here in 1783: Café Ducati, noted for its
motorcycles billiard tables, smoker’s room, and ice cream. And, allegedly, the first cannon shot of the 1683 siege of Vienna landed on the Ankerhaus site to the general displeasure of the locals.
(Hundertwasser’s former studio)
How to get to the Ankerhaus
The Graben is Vienna’s long, beautiful pedestrianised street right in the centre, leading away from Stephansdom cathedral to just below the Hofburg palace.
The Ankerhaus sits near the cathedral end of the Graben, on its own, flanked by Spiegelgasse and Dorotheergasse. If you pop down Dorotheergasse, you’ll find the famous Café Hawelka coffee house (try the famous buchteln) and the excellent Jewish Museum.
Subway: Although in the pedestrianised area, the Ankerhaus is just a few steps away from an entrance to the Stephansplatz station, which is on the U1 and U3 subway lines.
Bus: The city centre bus lines 1A and 2A stop nearby (Graben/Petersplatz)
Address: Graben 10 / Spiegelgasse 2, 1010 Vienna