Statue at Vienna Central Cemetery

The Vienna Central Cemetery: When hush, crowds descend

Leigh Turner
Leigh Turner

Where is the Vienna Central Cemetery, who is buried there and when should you visit?  Prepare yourself for a Viennese gem.

This story first appeared in the Boston Globe on 3 September 2006 entitled “When hush, crowds descend”.

By Robert Pimm, Globe Correspondent

Boston Globe, September 3 2006

The Vienna Central Cemetery

VIENNA — Beethoven lies here. So do Brahms and Schubert, the Strausses and Schönberg. Key scenes from “The Third Man” were shot here. But composers and movie classics aren’t the only reasons to visit the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna.


The grave of Johann Strauss in the Zentralfriedhof – Photo Robert Pimm

Visit on 1 November

To experience the full glory of Vienna’s great necropolis, come at dusk on 1 November. On All Hallows, so many Viennese come to pay their respects that the city schedules extra public transportation. But don’t worry, the place won’t be crowded. The 3 million people buried in 495 acres here since the cemetery opened its gates in 1874 outnumber the present population of Vienna 2 to 1 .

As night falls on All Hallows, the Zentralfriedhof is transformed into an ethereal wonderland. It seems every visitor throughout the day has lit a candle at a headstone. Kneeling black-clad women rake frozen earth around graves. Candlelight shimmers on stone angels’ wings. Visitors move toward the cemetery gates, their breath forming clouds .

A sea of lifetimes

It’s the combination of mass happening and individual emotion that makes All Hallows at the Zentralfriedhof so moving. In the night, a sea of lifetimes laps around you. Stop for a moment. See the glimmer of a lantern reflected in a black marble gravestone. Listen. Beyond a hedge, the sound of feet shuffling on gravel tells the story of one more visitor heading home through the darkness.

If you would like to have a look at my other writing, please check out all my books on this blog – or browse on Amazon!


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Sign up for my update emails

…and receive a FREE short story!

I won’t pass on your details to third parties / unsubscribe whenever you wish

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles


Russia’s war on Ukraine: what’s happening?

Russia’s war on Ukraine has failed on most fronts. But Russian President Putin continues to slaughter vast numbers of his own troops, and Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, in the hope of a military breakthrough. That could yet happen. The top task for countries supporting Ukraine must be to maintain unity for weeks, months or years to come. This will be a challenge.

Read More

Reverse conspiracy theories and Ukraine

Reverse conspiracy theories are when instead of blaming shadowy forces for the ills of the world, people blame themselves or their governments for atrocities committed by others.

Read More

Diplomacy and the media

Diplomacy and the media can have a rich, mutually beneficial relationship – but don’t always. Diplomats should build media skills, too. This is a sketch

Read More