A hidden gem: Vienna’s St Marx cemetery

There are many beautiful places in Vienna, some famous and some with an almost mythical status, as well as those that are less well known. Yvain Guerrero explores one hidden gem that’s very accessible and worth discovering - the cemetery of St Marx, in a remote corner of the 3rd district.

A hidden gem: Vienna's St Marx cemetery
St Marx cemetery in Spring. Photo:

A cemetery might not be high on your list of places to see when you’re enjoying a holiday or time off work.

But in the case of St Marx, you should think again. Laid out in the 18th century, it has not been in use since 1874. So there is no atmosphere of recent death or mourning – in fact it’s rather a lovely and romantic place to take a stroll and think about life among the hundreds of crumbling monuments, crosses, urns and angels, scattered between trees and surrounded by grass and ivy – a visual symphony of grey and green.

It was laid out in the Biedermeier style of the day, a transitional period between Neoclassicism and Romanticism. It closed in 1873, and the dead were then buried in the huge new Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof). St Marx was abandoned to nature and later restored in the 20th century.

One grave which now does receive many visitors, flowers and offerings is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He was buried here in 1791, in an unmarked grave. The current tombstone dates from a later period.

A board at the entrance of the cemetery tells you that many other noteworthy personalities are buried here – including 'famous' hunters and some undertakers, but most visitors will struggle to recognise anyone other than Mozart's name.

Fellow composer Josef Strauss (son of Johann) had his final resting place here, along with Anna Gottlieb – a soprano who was the first Pamina in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute – and one of the inventors of the sewing machine, tailor Josef Madersperger.

Of note too are the many foreigners buried here, including Greeks, Romanians and a few Serbians and Russians – with the memorial inscriptions generally in their languages and sometimes also in German or French, the international language of the time. Note that the Romanian epitaphs are in Cyrillic letters, as was the norm until 1860.

And an unusual sarcophagus-style tomb at the back of the cemetery is inscribed in English to the memory of a British Brigadier General who was military commissioner to the Austrian army and died in Vienna in 1854.

For me, the best time to visit is on a drizzly or overcast day, when the green vegetation really stands out. For some reason, it’s even more beautiful then than it is on a sunny day, and you can really enjoy the solitude and sense of peace.  

To get there, you can walk from Belvedere, or take the 71 tram from Schwarzenbergplatz or the 18 tram from Hauptbahnhof.

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Migration Economy: Who are the migrants starting businesses in Austria?

Self-employed migrants - or those building businesses in Austria - contribute hugely to the local economy, a new study has found.

Migration Economy: Who are the migrants starting businesses in Austria?

People born outside of Austria rely, in large part, on self-employment or opening up businesses (and then employing other migrants) as a path to working in the country, a study conducted by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IHS) on behalf of the Integration Fund (OeIF) found.

The study, Migration Economy in Vienna (Migrantische Ökonomien in Wien), also found that some nationalities tend to stick to specific industries – which could be partially explained by how migrants rely on informal networks of people of the same origin to start a business.

READ ALSO: Being self-employed in Austria: What you need to know

For example, people from the former Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe and Turkey often work independently in the construction sector. People from China are strongly concentrated in gastronomy, along with people of Turkish, Syrian, Thai and Maghreb origin.

Migrants originally from Asia and Africa, and especially India, Egypt and Afghanistan, are concentrated mainly in postal and courier services, including bicycle messenger services. Finally, the study found that people from Turkey and former Yugoslavia also appear more often than average registered as taxi drivers.

How much money do they bring in?

Figures from Austria’s Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer) showed that business owners in Vienna with a migration background generate € 8.3 billion in revenue and create around 45,500 jobs. 

Plus, these companies pay around € 3.7 billion every year in taxes and duties.

Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said: “Companies with a migrant background not only enrich the diversity of the corporate landscape in Vienna, but they are also an economic factor.”

READ MORE: Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

Who are these migrants?

Part of the survey involved a qualitative research with migrant entrepreneurs in Vienna, but also a comprehensive quantitative data analysis of registered businesses.

Many of the entrepreneurs interviewed were first generation (meaning they were not born in Austria), and most were between 26 and 35 years old and male. In total, the small businesses surveyed employed two to a maximum of four employees, most of whom were related to the owner.

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The entrepreneurs with a migrant background who were interviewed generally either did not have higher school-leaving qualifications (known in Austria as the Matura) or have not yet had their foreign certificates recognised in Austria and therefore do not work in their sector of study. 

First-generation migrants, in particular, tend to have lower educational qualifications, which has a negative impact on their chances in the labour market, the study said. Because of that, the respondents named a lack of occupational alternatives as one of the decisive factors for starting a business.

Additionally, many of the respondents said they relied on a network of people from their own nationality for help setting up a business. Many of them weren’t aware of the support offered by official bodies, including the Chamber of Commerce. 

READ ALSO: What is the new cost of living ‘credit’ for self-employed people in Austria?

The study concluded that language barriers and some cultural aspects played a role, but since most entrepreneurs were interested in getting more detailed information on starting and running businesses, there was potential for better communication and targeting by the public offices.