Vienna Sights: Augarten and air defence tower

Augarten: Exploring Vienna’s Forgotten Treasure

What is there to see at Vienna’s Augarten? From fine Viennese porcelain in Europe’s second oldest porcelain manufactory to a manicured baroque garden and a World War II Air Defence Tower. These are just some of the local treasures that have been hiding from tourist swarms. Here are five things you can do there:

1. Stroll Through Oldest Baroque Garden

baroque Augarten in ViennaThe park itself is Vienna’s oldest baroque garden and has landmark status. In the 17th century it was conceived as a hunting ground amidst the Danube flood plains. Augarten not only houses the Vienna Boys Choir but Europe’s second oldest porcelain manufactory, an original World War II defence tower, a contemporary museum and a kindergarden.

You will find baroque layouts, allées, terraced green areas, trimmed hedges and the occasional ornamental flower beds. Nature largely owns the rear part of Augarten: Geometrical pathways criss-cross a savage lime grove. Further south, orchards and meadows link different park areas.

2. Visit Augarten Porcelain Manufactory

Augarten Porcelain Manufactory and MuseumFrom Germany and Austria to Hungary, producing goods from fine china has defined Central European culture from the 18th century. In fact, most of Augarten’s historic moulds date from the times of Empress Maria Theresia and Empress Sissi.

After almost 300 years the manufactory still fires our traditional Augarten coffee, tea and dinner sets. Especially at local luxury hotels you may eat and drink from Augarten porcelain. But also decorative items, from vases to delicate painted figurines, are still in fashion. For example, the Spanish Riding School sells porcelain Lipizzaner horses in graceful poses.

Augarten: porcelain piecesToday, Augarten porcelain manufactory is a boutique enterprise, with only 30 people mixing, moulding, casting, firing, glazing and painting porcelain.

If you love fine European china the manufactory and museum will take you up close to traditional porcelain making. To watch the porcelain artists live I joined a guided tour through the manufactory.  Among the highlights were watching an artist craft Lipizzaner figurines. With utter precision he glued minuscule porcelain pieces to a perfectly shaped porcelain torso.

Augarten Porcelain MuseumOther than that, an enormous Spanish bull received his hind legs in a delicate operation. “The most difficult figurine to create is the ‘Fighting Stallions’, a figurine maker pointed out.

Since the last few years, Augarten has been increasingly collaborating with young Austrian designers to introduce fresh ideas and contemporary collections.

To finish off our tour, the last stop were the porcelain painters. The were in the midst of decorating Augarten’s famous flowery plates. Because some patterns were so delicate, the painters sometimes used self made brushes made of just one single horse hair!

After the tour, we roamed freely through the adjacent Augarten Porcelain Museum. Among the exhibitis were jaw dropping pieces, from precious vases and figurines to sleek contemporary designs.  Clearly, the museum’s center piece was an original brick built kiln covering two floors. For decades, it had fired trays of freshly made porcelain objects at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. It was so large you could walk inside! 

Augarten Porcelain Manufactory Tour

From Monday to Thursday you can join a guided 1-hour tour through the manufactory, at 10.15 am and at 11.30 am. Although no previous booking is necessary inquire about available English language tours. To learn more, visit website.

3. Explore World War II Defence Towers

Augarten air defence towerWhen you turn right at exiting the porcelain manufactory prepare for a bizarre view: Across Augarten’s manicured box trees a massive concrete cylinder sticks up from colorful flower beds.

As a matter of fact, two of Vienna’s six air defence towers – aka FLAK Towers – vividly remind of World War II at Augarten. Just a few months before the war ended, in January 1945, the Nazis erected these towers to defend the Reich. To give you an idea of their monstrosity the 45 and 47 meter high landmarked towers boast 2.5 meter thick walls.

Because they serve as memorials against war the Viennese municipality decided to keep them. Clashing with manicured gardens, fragile porcelain and Hundertwasser’s blobby waste incineration plant they are hard to overlook. Since both towers are empty and not open to the public you may as well just take in the view.

4. Enjoy Open Air Cinema And City Farm

Augarten open air cinemaAt almost every corner Augarten’s unique neighbourhood flair bursts through. Along the outside wall leading to the main entrance sun flowers, pumpkins, courgettes and runner beans burgeon during the warm months. There, Vienna’s City Farm now enables urban gardening and hosts workshops and rare vegetable tastings for children.

On weekend mornings, you will likely see local joggers trotting past the manufactory to circle the World War II Defence Tower on the other side. Between end of June and mid August, Viennese from across town flock to watch vintage films at the Cinema Like Never Before (Kino Wie Noch Nie), and chill out at the pop up cafés nearby. While most movies are in German or with German subtitles you will also find some English language films in the program.

5. Visit Vienna Boys Choir Concert Hall And School

Augarten: school of Vienna Boys ChoirAt Augarten Vienna the Vienna Boys Choir runs its boarding school at magnificent Augarten Palace. Although it doesn’t look like, it was designed by the same architect who conceived Schönbrunn Palace: Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Since the end of World War II the Vienna Boys Choir uses the palace. 

While the place is closed to the public you can enter the building and hear concerts at its annual Open Day in November. If you aren’t that lucky go and listen to the Choir Boys at their own concert hall at Augarten.

How To Get To Vienna’s Augarten


Since Augarten belongs to the central district of Leopoldstadt, it is easy to reach: either take metro U2 to Taborstrasse; alternatively take tramway 31 or bus 5B to Obere Augartenstrasse.

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