Bonvenon al Vieno, which means welcome to Vienna (I think) in Esperanto. The National Library here includes a world-beating specialist section for planned languages. No wonder, then, that the same institution is home to the Esperanto Museum.
- Quick multimedia introductions to the language, history, and philosophy of Esperanto (and other planned languages)
- Located in the 17th-century Palais Mollard
- All display info is in German and English (and Esperanto)
- €5 for an adult ticket, which includes access to the Papyrus and Globe museums. Or use a Vienna Pass for one-time free entry
- See also: Vienna museums
Vienna has a strong connection to Esperanto. For example, the city hosted the World Esperanto Congress four times (more often than anywhere else other than Copenhagen) and the multilingual nature of the Austro-Hungarian Empire drove inevitable interest in a common language after Esperanto first developed in the late 19th century.
The city’s Esperanto Museum lurks inside Palais Mollard, one-time neighbour of the 19th-century police censorship office. The core of the building dates back to the late 17th century, but numerous alterations, renovations, and refurbishments have changed the look since.
The museum itself is quite small (just two rooms, essentially), but enough to give you a brief insight into the concepts behind Esperanto.
Videos and displays introduce you to the history of the institution and language, explain the linguistic principles behind the latter (with the help of a Pac-Man-like game!), and outline the philosophy underpinning Esperanto’s development: a humanitarian vision and promotion of intercultural understanding.
As such, you can see how the ideas enshrined within the Esperanto movement have influenced such modern-day concepts as the EU, Euro, and even brand names.
Inevitably (and sadly), an ostensibly linguistic activity enraged various authorities for whom the words “humanitarian” and “intercultural understanding” were anathema. For example, Hitler banned Esperanto and the Gestapo closed the Vienna museum in 1938.
The museum also gives a nod to other artificial languages, from Homer’s efforts through to Klingon. (If you happen to be in town during the Long Night of Museums, you can typically attend Esperanto and Klingon classes as part of the evening entertainment.)
Tickets & visitor information
Entry to the Esperanto Museum requires a combination ticket that also covers the Globe Museum (in the same building) and the Papyrus Museum. An adult ticket cost €5 at the time of writing. The Vienna Pass (my review) also includes one-time free entry to all three institutions.
Opening hours are 10am to 6pm, daily (closed on Mondays between October and May). Thursdays you can visit longer (until 9pm). Special opening hours may apply during the end-of-year holidays.
Carry on past the ticket desk to find lockers (requiring €1 or €2 coins).
How to get to the Esperanto Museum
Palais Mollard has its own subway station practically outside the front door: the aptly-named Herrengasse station on the U3 line. The 1A and 2A buses also drop you nearby at the Michaelerplatz or Herrengasse stops.
Otherwise, a short walk from the old town hub gets you there on foot. If you fancy a cup of coffee after your visit, meander further down the street to Café Central, possibly the best-looking coffee house in all Vienna (but expect queues).
Address: Herrengasse 9, 1010 Vienna | Website