A meeting place of cultures

This is where business people meet backpackers, near meets far and east meets west. A neighbourhood full of contrasts and colourful images.

American business people are often portrayed as a model for Europeans. They never say that they have problems, no, they talk of challenges and always radiate optimism. It is true, we’re a little more restrained in our culture and prefer to celebrate success at the end than before the beginning. An old joke puts it in a nutshell: A Viennese businessman asks another: “How’s business going?” and the other responds: “Who’s talking about going? You have to carry it!”
René Ringsmuth is a successful Viennese pub landlord. Situated in Johannitergasse, a few steps away from the central railway station, his inn has always been a trendy meeting place for Favoritners, the residents of the Tenth District. The railway station has mutated into a European hub, bringing him many new customers. Nevertheless, he is reticent. Rather than boast about his success, he remains modest: “Things used to be very hard, and they’re still hard today. But of course some things have also become easier. Many hotels have been built in the area and guests come from near and far.” In fact, the combination of wonderful, traditional Viennese cuisine and the lively square is a guarantee of success. Anyone wishing to go for lunch or spend the evening at the “Ringsmuth” is well advised to reserve a table. The guests are as colourful as the timetable of the railway station just opposite. Local business people meet backpackers. Travellers waiting for their train meet local guests.

The fact that railways bring us together is an old idea. Incidentally, we share this view with the Americans. President Lincoln had already approved the construction of a railway line to California while the civil war was raging, with the clever strategy of actually linking up the huge country. Railways connect people, and they also mainly bring prosperity. The impressive hub of the Central Station makes travel across any border that much easier, and allows North and South, East and West to come together.

15 sweet minutes

The Vienna Central Station not only offers benefits to passengers from further away since they can now pass through Vienna without laborious changes of trains. That’s because the local area is also rapidly changing. Daniel Colakovic has opened a Café Bistro called “15 süße Minuten” (“15 sweet minutes”) on the inner Favoritenstraße at number 45. Yes, the proximity to the new railway station was the main reason why he opened this young, fresh café which is located close to his bakery. Whereas René hits the spot with his traditional cuisine, here it’s the range of offers for young guests who fill the seats. There’s the “Vegan Monday”, the “Fresh Friday” and the “Schnitzel Wednesday”. Wisanu Tuntawiroon from Bangkok posts his plate of poppy seed noodles on the café’s Facebook page and offers perfect proof of how the area is developing into a place where near meets far. It’s a variation on an old saying, you might say: “Travel and food bring people together”.

The location for a café at the northern end of the inner Favoritenstraße is also so well chosen, because a memorial of Georg Franz Kolschitzky is close by, at the corner of Kolschitzkygasse. Kolschitzky is said to have introduced coffee drinking to Vienna. Tradition has it that he scouted out the Turkish troops during the siege of 1683 in a daring manner and received some sacks of coffee as a reward after the enemy withdrew. Another version says that the Turks simply forgot part of their stocks of coffee; Kolschitzky acquired them and immediately opened up a coffee house.

The Südtiroler Platz is located at the end of the inner Favoritenstraße, within sight of the station. Its name indicates that an important traffic route once ran to the south at this spot. Today, traffic is routed a little further west via the Triesterstraße, which also indicates its destination in its name, to the A2, the “Südautobahn”.

Today’s Südtirolerplatz is as sprawling as it is unattractive. That should change soon in accordance with plans drawn up by the City Government. The idea is to create a green encounter and meeting zone that will form a new entrance gate towards the centre. This will make the residential area on the border between the Fourth and the Fifth Districts more attractive and also draw in new, higher-quality businesses.
More Information at graetzlbericht.at

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