Vienna Kaisergruft

Don't worry- this is the last Austria post. You can all breathe a sigh of relief! When we checked into our hotel in Vienna, we were given a map with all the local attractions. Quickly scanning through the list, I saw something called the Funeral Museum which was located at Zentralfriedhof- Central Cemetery, which happens to be the 9th largest in the world. Of course, I got really excited, until I discovered it was a 20 minute drive out of the city centre. Since we were only in Vienna for one night, I didn't really have time so, instead, Rich suggested the Kaisergruft. To be honest, I wasn't really listening to him when he discovered it so I didn't know what it was. Something to do with emperors was my best bet. Still, I didn't have any better ideas and it was a 5 minute walk from our hotel so I agreed to go. Bronze coffin shadows

For once, Rich had had a good idea. Don't tell him I said that because he'll say something like "Yeah, I never have good ideas. Marrying you was a bad idea" As it turns out, Kaisergruft means Imperial Crypt, and it's the resting place for generations of Austrian royalty. 
Wien Kaisergruft Vienna Kaisergruft Bronze skull and crossbones
Inside, there is a series of rooms which vary from very dark, simple tomb-like vaults to marble halls flooded with natural daylight and Italian-inspired painted ceilings. Over 150 people are buried here, mostly in coffins, although there are also a handful of urns for those who have been cremated. 
Kapuziner Crypt Vienna Weeping woman statue
Although guided tours are available (there was one while we were there but unfortunately it wasn't in English so we couldn't eavesdrop), you're also able to explore the crypt at your own pace. Interestingly, I didn't see any members of staff or security guards around which seems strange considering the high profile residents. As many of the royal family members were also monarchs of countries aside from Austria, tributes from foreign visitors had been placed on some of the coffins. The plot of Maximillian I, who was the Emperor of Mexico in the 1860s, was liberally decorated with Mexican flags, candles and flowers. 
Wien Kapuziner Crypt Skull and sword Veiled statue
So many of the tombs also acted as memorials, rather than simply being coffins, so they were decorated with symbolic images and engravings. Almost all featured a skull with a crown and the attention to detail was incredible. I was particularly impressed by the way a veil had been created out of bronze. How anyone can take a metal and make it look so fluid and translucent is beyond me! 
Franz Joseph Tomb Ghostly shadow coffin
The Kaisergruft was a really beautiful, interesting place to visit and definitely somewhere I'd recommend if you're interested in historical death culture. I'll definitely be visiting Zentralfriedhof next time I'm in Austria though! 

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2 comments:

  1. Wow! These pictures gave me the creeps...in the best possible way. The attention to detail on these is incredible! I'll have to visit if I ever make it out to Vienna.

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  2. Wow, this place looks incredible! Great photos. x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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