Anyone wishing to pay homage to one of the greatest composers of all time can visit Beethoven’s grave in Vienna. The location is verdant and beautiful, and you can almost hear his music in the air.
- Set among a cluster of famous composer graves in Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof cemetery
- Look for Grave 29 in Group 32a
- There is no charge to visit the cemetery unless part of a guided tour
- See also:
Beethoven’s burial history
(The cemetery authorities take good care of the location)
Ludwig van Beethoven had the dubious pleasure of three burials.
The composer died on the 26th of March, 1827 in the Schwarzspanierhaus and was buried a couple of days later in the Währinger Ortsfriedhof (a cemetery in one of Vienna’s outlying districts).
In 1863, the authorities decided to repair the burial site. They exhumed Beethoven’s body and put it in a new and better metal coffin before burying him again.
Unfortunately, the Währinger cemetery shut in 1873, eventually converting to a park in the mid-1920s. In the meantime, it was decided to move Beethoven’s remains to a better site.
(Beethoven’s original grave in Währing, as pictured on a 1914 postcard produced by Kilophot (K. L.); Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 233630; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
So, in 1888, they dug up Beethoven once again and reburied him in a special honorary grave at the Zentralfriedhof, which is Vienna’s main cemetery and home to numerous esteemed former residents of Austria’s capital.
A newspaper report on the fresh burial noted (my rough translation):
The gracious chirping of songbirds left a poignant impression as they rang out from the willows and acacias in the middle of the prayers of the clergy and among the sombre tones of the trumpets (?).
(The final resting place)
The grave’s location and surrounding cemetery is astonishingly peaceful and, dare I say, beautiful.
Beethoven lies among flowers, shrubs, trees and other greenery. In spring or summer, bask in the sunlight, close your eyes, and you might almost hear the opening bars of Für Elise drifting through the air.
The gravestone itself is a copy of the original from the Währinger cemetery. Written on it are the following words (in German of course, so my rough translation)…
This gravestone was built to the same design as the original in the Währinger Ortsfriedhof and erected by the Association of Friends of Music in 1888 with financial help from the Imperial City Development Fund of Vienna and the Philharmonic Association
Where is Beethoven’s grave?
(Front view and inscription)
The Zentralfriedhof is a huge site, but Beethoven’s grave resides among a cluster of famous composers not far from the main entrance in one of the areas largely reserved for honoured “guests” only.
Look for Grave 29 in Group 32a on the cemetery maps dotted around the area. Near neighbours include Schubert, Brahms, and various members of the Strauss family.
You can find the grave very easily if you enter the cemetery through that main entrance, which is called Tor (Gate) 2.
Once inside, go straight on, through the middle of the stone arcade ahead of you…towards the large Jugendstil church in the distance. Just keep your eyes on the left hand side to eventually spot the grave.
For directions to the Zentralfriedhof, see the main cemetery article.
Address: Zentralfriedhof, Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, 1110 Vienna