I first heard about this cemetery, probably like many others, when I saw Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy go here during their one day stay in Vienna in Before Sunrise. That was over 20 years ago now, but I’ve always remembered that scene and being moved by the story of how this was a place for people who had drowned in the Danube (or had committed suicide and were denied a Christian burial). There was an older cemetery, but there’s nothing there now, what’s left is the newer cemetery, which has 104 burials – 61 of whom are nameless. The cemetery is pretty tiny – depending on where you are from in the world, probably no larger than your backyard. It’s located in a pretty desolate area – you would never imagine that a cemetery like this lies near such a large industrial area.
Unlike most other cemeteries (other than war cemeteries), almost all of the graves are marked by the same iron crucifix. Even then, there are some differences — some of the headstones are raised on a pedestal, some have hands behind the cross (or maybe “light” beams?), some are labelled (with the names of the deceased, or in case of the nameless, with “namenlos”), some have little mementos attached to them. Most of the graves are overgrown, but nearly all have plastic flowers on them. One of the graves had a pair of stone hands – it was a little creepy. Despite the near sameness of most of the graves, it was still interesting to walk around the graves to see the differences, and to ponder what it must be like to have one’s final resting place in such an area.
Quality of Monuments: Well, they’re virtually all the same, with very minor variations of remembrance about them. But its still interesting to wander among them nonetheless.
Cemetery Grounds: The grounds are small, and fenced in. There are trees along the fence line which cuts out the big industrial buildings from view. The grounds are mildly overgrown, but it adds to the atmosphere. There are benches to sit on. It is a really peaceful place.
Visitors: I was the only person here when I first arrived, but by the end of my visit a group of 4 older adults had come. That being said, I don’t imagine too many people come out here on a daily basis.
Photographer notes: Its pretty green, desolate and overgrown, so it has its own atmosphere. Infrared would work really nicely here and I don’t see why tripods would be a problem if you wanted to use one. I was worried about bugs, but there were none to worry about (just the spider webs). I was there in the afternoon when it was a bit overcast, but even when the sun came out it didn’t really light up the cemetery. Probably the best time for that to happen would be in the morning as the cemetery faces east.
Cemetery: Cemetery of the Nameless/Cemetery of the Unnamed (Friedhof Der Namenlosen)
Location: Simmering (Alberner Hafen). Most places that mention this cemetery will mention that you can take the U3 to Enkplatz (the stop before Simmering) and then take bus 76A to Alberner Hafen, which is exactly what I did. Make sure you take the right 76A – there are two different schedules – some go out to this port/industrial area, some don’t. You can go there in the morning until about 9 a.m., then you have to wait for the afternoon buses, which start at 13:30. On Sundays you can only go in the afternoon. What nobody says, is that even though you can take an early bus TO the cemetery, the next bus (which is at the same stop you get off at) going back isn’t until 16:06. I didn’t want to sit at the stop for an hour an half, so I just took the next bus going to the end of the line, which is to Kaiserebersdorf/Zinnergasse. The reason I took it there is because it listed a number of connections, including 6 and 71A, which I took a chance would mean the tram lines I had used that morning to the Central Cemetery. I was right. I got off at the end of the line, crossed the street, and grabbed the #6 tram back to Simmering, going past the Central Cemetery. If I had known the two were so close to each other/easily connected, it would have made planning to visit these two places a bit easier. The Vienna transit authority has all the bus and tram schedules online, so they’re worth consulting if you want to head out here.
Anyway, when you first get out here, you might feel like you are in the wrong place, but you’re not. I took some photographs of the route to give you an idea of what it looks like to get there.
- The view from the bus stop: Cross the road and go down to your right. Cross the tracks.
- Keep going (right), you’ll pass a WC and see some big yellow silos in the distance.
3. Once you past the silos, you’ll notice the cemetery to your right. A short climb up the stairs and down again will get you to the cemetery.
Inaugurated: The original part of the cemetery opened in 1840, but the newer part seems to be from 1900. The last burial here was in 1940.
Opening hours: 8:00-18:00