is a city of stylish melancholy. The
locals are comfortable with death, enjoy funerals, and visit
graveyards often. A Wiener
Linien tram used to deliver bodies to Zentralfriedhof in the night,
and a bus still runs through the cemetery (local slang says somebody just took the 71er tram when they die).
'A schene Lei' is a non-ironic reference to dying well.
On this tour, on Dia de los Muertos, we visit the second largest cemetery in Europe, to explore the ever-changing fashion in graves. We will compare how different religions remember their dead, for instance with art, photographs, mini-biographies or plastic flowers. (In UK, the newspapers publish a chart at the end of each year, with the top 10 songs played at funerals - and Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life has often featured).
It is very unusual for all of the great religions to be buried in the same place, but we celebrate this connection in Vienna.
The Zentralfriedhof is far from the centre of our city, but is central to its identity, and there are more dead people there, than us who remain alive (3m vs 1.9m).
But this tour has a bigger purpose, and that is to encourage more people to give some of their wealth to make social change. This is an important tradition in the USA, where educational, art and healthcare institutions receive significant support from people at the end of life. Much less so in Austria. Should we be spending less on gravestones, and more on the living?
This walk is about exploring death, generosity, and how we want to be remembered.
tour was originally conceived with Caritas Österreich, as part of the European Foundation Centre Conference on Giving & Inheritance, in October 2021.
This cemetery covers 2.4 square
kilometres and over 300,000 graves. It is a biography of the city, and as
much a place for the living as for the dead. This huge
park is open to joggers, bikers, &
plays refuge to wild animals like foxes, deer &
field hamsters. We will take you for a walk around the old Jewish
highlight in the main cemetery the tombs of honour, but also a Mercedes Benz logo - for in Vienna the grave is a status
Rather than being a melancholy space, the locals have an
unusually intimate relationship with death, &
many have their gravestones in place long before they die! With
humour, we hope to make some serious points about trends in dying
across 200 years, and even how to die better.
Here is a link to our original project, which inspired this tour:, from Caritas and the European Foundation Centre: https://www.efc.be/annual-conf...