Various airlines fly to Vienna, such as Easyjet from Berlin or Lufthansa from Munich.

Various airlines fly to Vienna, such as Easyjet from Berlin or Lufthansa from Munich.

, Beethovenstrasse 69, 60325 Frankfurt / Main. Kurz-Nah-Weg is a service provided by the German National Tourist Board. V. (DZT), funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology based on a resolution of the German Bundestag and its partners.

Death is part of life, but above all it belongs to Vienna. The Austrian capital has a special relationship to death. Crypt, funeral feast, ghost train – a journey into morbidity.

Morbid Vienna: The ghost capital of Europe
Photo series with 5 pictures

The first thing you see is graves. If you travel to Vienna and drive from the airport to the city center, you will pass one of the largest cemeteries in Europe. Three million dead lie in Vienna’s central cemetery in the south-eastern district of Simmering – it is so big that tourists can go on horse-drawn carriage tours there. The routes are 80 kilometers long and there are bus stops. The resting place counts around 1000 celebrity graves with musicians, writers or politicians.

To die to live

At the grave of Falco, whose name was Johann Hans Hölzel and who crashed into a bus in a coke rush in the Dominican Republic in 1998, two fans took photos on a cold Monday morning. The grave is shaped like a broken CD and shows Falco in a black cloak. "Do I have to die to live?" sang the artist, and one would like to answer him: Yes, maybe in Vienna.

The inhabitants of the Austrian capital have a special relationship with death. A funeral used to be a major event – it had to be pompous, ideally the whole city should watch. Some people saved their lives for their funeral.

The Falco grave in Vienna’s central cemetery: fans often make a pilgrimage here and pay homage to the musician. (Source: Schaub-Walzer / / PID / dpa / tmn)

Funeral museum in the central cemetery in Vienna

There has been a funeral museum since 1967 and is now in the central cemetery. In an earlier funeral hall, coffins, urns and robes for the dead can be seen. Visitors can listen to the most popular funeral songs of the Viennese. 1st place: Time to Say Goodbye, 2nd place: Ave Maria (by Bach), 3rd place: Ave Maria (by Schubert).

The center of Vienna is also a single cemetery. The city center is criss-crossed by tombs and catacombs. The Michaeler Crypt, for example, is located below the Michaelerkirche opposite the Hofburg, the seat of the Federal President. It’s cold in the narrow, dark vaulted cellar, and some of the coffins are open. The visitor looks at mummified corpses, some of whose wigs can still be seen.

Many of the graves in Vienna’s Central Cemetery are pompous. The place is a famous tourist attraction. (Source: Schaub-Walzer / / PID / dpa / tmn)

"Is Mozart down here too?" a little boy wants to know. "Well, but his father-in-law" says the guide. Nobody knows where the remains of the man are. Books of the dead give information about who is in the crypt, but the coffins themselves are not given names.

Emperor Franz Joseph I and Sisi in the Capuchin Crypt  

There is no doubt who lies in the Capuchin Crypt: Vienna’s most famous crypt below a simple monastery houses the remains of the Habsburgs who ruled from the 12th century to the end of the monarchy in 1918. 149 of them are found in elaborately decorated coffins. Tanja Dolnak, who with her page cut and silk scarf could also sell luxury fashion in the city center, concentrates on the most important rulers on the tour through the illuminated crypt and does not miss the resting place of Austria’s most famous Empress Sisi. Fresh flowers lie in front of the coffin, nobody takes selfies.

The guided tour through the Capuchin Crypt also leads to the coffins of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Sisi. (Source: Alexandra Stahl / dpa / tmn)

Crime Museum in Leopoldstadt

Drastic images can be found in the crime museum, which is housed away from the tourist stream in an inconspicuous residential building in the quiet Leopoldstadt. Here the city exhibits torture tools and weapons and illustrates the most gruesome murders – some with original corpse photos. You have to be able to endure that.

Even in the famous coffee houses, which you never know for sure whether to find melancholy or decadent, death is also at the table. In their seriousness, waiters dressed in black often look like pallbearers. The guests order cake before eleven in the morning. Those who deal with death as casually as the Viennese do, perhaps enjoy life more.

Spooky amusement park 

The Prater, Vienna’s large amusement park, is open all year round. But even here it is rather depressing. On a cool autumn day the area is almost empty, the bare trees around the rides, half of which are ghost trains, give them a dreary feel. "Right a Gspenst, left a Gspenst!" it rattles from the speakers, and it could well be 1970 now.

Ghost train on the Prater: Death scares people less in Vienna than elsewhere, one might think. (Source: Alexandra Stahl / dpa / tmn)

"The ghost trains were the greatest for us" tells Karl Kalisch, an 86-year-old Austrian who has lived in Vienna with his 71-year-old wife Gertraud for decades. Kalisch tells about "Cemetery of the Nameless" out on the south-eastern outskirts, at Alberner Hafen. It is the final resting place for suicides who are not identified or for people without loved ones. "It doesn’t exist in other cities" is he sure. As a farewell, Gertraud Kalisch gives the visitor a cemetery guide for Vienna.

getting there

Various airlines fly to Vienna, such as Easyjet from Berlin or Lufthansa from Munich. The flight time is usually little more than an hour. Alternatively, travel by train.

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overnight stay

Hotels in Vienna are rather expensive. A double room in a central three-star hotel costs around 120 euros per night. An alternative are private offers on AirbnB, which, however, are not very cheap either. On average, accommodation there for a single traveler in a central location costs around 60 euros per night.

In our culture, many people consider Friday the 13th to be an unlucky day. On this day, many apparently avoid supposedly dangerous activities such as a flight. Good news for the non-superstitious: That’s why they can buy tickets at bargain prices that day.

At least that’s what an analysis of the price comparison portal Kayak suggests, which compared the flight prices to popular destinations on the January Fridays. Result: The flights to the ten most popular travel destinations are on average 16 percent cheaper on this day than on any other Friday in January 2017.

Individual destinations up to 34 percent cheaper

In individual cases, you can even save significantly more: According to the analysis, flights to Palma de Mallorca are 34 percent cheaper. On flights to Malaga you save an average of 33 percent. Further goals are described in the table below.

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If you can’t get rid of your queasy gut feeling despite the financial incentive and prefer to fly on a different day, you might find some consolation that even with airlines themselves, superstition is widespread. Some – including Lufthansa – do not have a row of seats with the number 13.

Cyclists in Zermatt will not be able to avoid the Matterhorn. Why also? The summit is the pride of the region and offers mountain bikers 1000 vertical meters of descent, a downhill paradise with an unbeatable panorama. Where else can you master gravel roads and exciting passages in the midst of 33 four-thousand-meter peaks? See for yourself in our photo show about cycling on the Matterhorn.

Breathtaking mountain panorama: mountain biking from the Matterhorn
Photo series with 14 pictures

Matterhorn: The class leader

Six in the morning, the temperature is just below freezing. Wrapped in all available functional clothing, we cling to a steaming cup of coffee. Sounds like frustration. But no, on the contrary. This is just the ingenious prelude to what is probably one of the most beautiful mountain bike descents in the world.

The rack railway finally stops at Gornergrat, 3,105 meters above sea level. The icy morning breeze sweeps any indolence from the bones. The shadows slowly wander over the sea of ​​peaks. No less than 33 four-thousanders are blushing noticeably. Every single one is beautiful, but a quick look around is enough and one thing is clear: the 4478 meter high Matterhorn is a stroke of genius, the class leader, the top dog among the surrounding Alpine peaks.

Cycling, mountain biking, the Alps – more on that

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Downhill cycling to the Riffelsee

We follow the sunlight into the valley. The downhill offers a mixture of rapid gravel road and technical passages. But neither loose scree nor treacherous old snow fields are the real challenges. The biggest problem is actually concentrating on the trail and not constantly staring at the mountain of mountains.

At the Riffelsee, dawn initially reveals a pungent blue-green and soon conjures up a flawless reflection of Zermatt’s flagship tines on the surface of the water. The sun shines fully into the snow-covered east face of the "Hörnlis" as the people of Zermatt affectionately call their wonder of the world, and warms our backs. Break! Become one with nature and quietly latch onto a kitschy but overwhelming postcard motif.

Zermatt – paradise for bikers, mountaineers and skiers

This downhill is just one of the many trails that the Zermatt Kurverein approved for bikers in the early 1990s. For the tourist offices in the entire Alpine region, biking was still the hot topic at the time. After all, they didn’t want to alienate the mass of wealthy hikers. On the other hand, the young people from Zermatt, who – how could it be otherwise in view of this environment – are almost without exception enthusiastic mountaineers, skiers and bikers, demanded their rights. Since then, the two-meter rule has generally applied, which means that bikers are allowed to ride on paths that are at least two meters wide. In addition, some fillet pieces were specially signposted for bikers and a service package was put together in cooperation with the mountain railways. In the case of Zermatt, this is an all-round successful balancing act that impresses both downhillers and cross-country fans.

Trailarena in height

Gondolas float directly from the village to the 3103 meter high Rothorn and to the 2582 meter high Schwarzsee. Or you can take the cozy cogwheel train to Gornergrat. The day tickets may tear a gaping wound in your wallet, but every Franconian is well invested in a bike park of this size. All routes can be combined and, of course, can be trodden with your own muscle power. Cross country fans only need the Kurverein’s card specially created for bikers. For 1.60 francs, it gives you a full overview of the Zermatt trail arena. But be careful, you don’t know such comfortable driveways in Zermatt, 1620 meters above sea level. All routes end around the 3000 meter mark, because the air is thin.