A popular shopping street in the centre of Vienna, Graben is known for being one of the hottest fashion destinations in Europe. The origin of this street dates back to the old Romans, and it is surrounded by popular alleys, streets and places which stand for the typical flair, elegant tradition and gourmet pleasures: Stephansplatz, Kohlmarkt, Naglergasse, Tuchlauben and Petersplatz.
Most of the buildings in this pedestrian area origin from the 17th and 18th century and you can find here the finest traditional shops. Some of these shops have a long tradition and were already popular in the times when Austria was ruled by emperors. These are, for example, the porcelain factory Augarten, the court jeweller Heldwein and also the court perfumery Nägele & Strubell.
There are also plenty of coffee houses and restaurants between all those shops. Especially in the surrounding alleys, you can discover a lot of them. In the alley, Dorotheergasse is the coffee house Hawelka which is open since 1939 and a well-known place where you can sometimes meet popular artists in a really old fashioned atmosphere. If you are a gourmet, you should visit the shop of Julius Meinl at the end of the Graben (corner Naglergasse).
The Plague Column or Dreifaltigkeitssaule (Trinity Column) stands in the centre of Graben. Construction of the column was commissioned by Emperor Leopold I. During the terrible plague epidemic of 1679, which cost an estimated 100,000 lives, the desperate emperor prayed for help and vowed he would erect a memorial at the end of the epidemic. That same year a large cross was erected, later replaced with the current bombastic monument.
There are two fountains at Graben, one on either side of the Pestsäule. The fountains, named Josefsbrunnen and Leopoldsbrunnen are dedicated to two saints, St. Joseph and St. Leopold, respectively. The statues on the fountains were sculpted in the eighteenth century by Johann Martin Fischer, but the fountains are much older, possibly from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Graben is at the heart of Vienna's most famous shopping streets. The adjoining Kohlmarkt, which leads to the Hofburg at Michaelerplatz, is even more exclusive. The most popular shopping street in the centre of Vienna, Kärntner Straße - also pedestrianized - starts at the other end of Graben. From the popular chain brands to traditional boutiques, the street of Graben has it all.
The Peterskirche occupies a small square, almost obscured by the surrounding buildings. A church was already built here in the eighth century, possibly on the foundations of an even older, fourth-century Roman church. The current oval-shaped structure was built between 1702 and 1733 after a design by Gabriele Montani.
The first church built at this site possibly dates back to the fourth century, but the oldest parts of today's St. Stephen's Cathedral - the towers of the front facade - go back to the thirteenth century when the existing Romanesque church from the twelfth century was expanded. Much of what stands today stems from an expansion that was started in 1304 by King Albert I.
Due to its size and location, the street of Graben acts as a site of many important festivals and processions. The first ever documented procession through Graben was Fronleichnamsprozessionen (parades on the occasion of the Feast of Corpus Christi) in 1438. It has also been known as a site for triumphal processions, in particular for the arrival of Archdukes and Emperors.
A traditional Viennese cafe located at Dorotheergasse 6, in Vienna’s first district, Hawelka is most known for its Melange of coffee and food. The cafe is of particular cultural significance and is known to have been frequented by famous artists. The quaint atmosphere of the place is reminiscent of the Prohibition era when Hawelka became a meeting point for writers and critics like Heimito von Doderer, Albert Paris Gütersloh, Hilde Spiel, Friedrich Torberg and Hans Weigel.
Named after its founder, Julius Meinl is a gourmet supermarket offers exquisite Austrian and international groceries. It also has a coffee shop and deli within it, famous for its Central European cuisine. It has a wine tasting cellar and several interesting oddities open for exploring.
Demel, one of Vienna's most famous cafes, is located in this pedestrianized street of Kohlmarkt, off of Graben. This pastry shop and chocolaterie was established in 1786 and bears the title of a Purveyor to the Imperial and Royal Court. This busy café is known for its incredibly sumptuous looking array of cakes, pastries, and desserts and particularly the famous 'Sachertorte'.
Akakiko is a Japanese restaurant present in many places around Vienna, including Graben. It serves high-quality food and changes up its menu every now and then to keep the fare interesting. Its variety of Korean and Japanese cuisines have made the restaurant a fan favourite. Known for their large portion sizes and reasonable prices, the Katsu is a must-try!
The rooftop restaurant not only offers an incredible view over the city of Vienna but excellent service and a great menu of well-prepared dishes. The location is in the very heart of Vienna, just around the corner of the St. Stephens cathedral. You have a choice of dining in the open-air terrace or inside the air-conditioned restaurant.
A quiet, friendly place, the Ristorante Firenze Enoteca is a perfect respite from the bustling streets of Graben. With authentic Italian and Viennese cuisines, this restaurant is popular for its many varieties of pasta and wine. The delicate flavours, coupled with the warm ambience makes Firenze a great family place.
A restaurant specialising in burgers, located 0.3 km from Vienna’s centre, Rinderwahn has become a local favourite. Prepared with a Viennese twist, even American classics feels like a whole new delicacy. With fantastic service, Rinderwahn has a quiet setting and a simple outdoor terrace on the pedestrian street.
The street was created at around 1220, when Duke Leopold VI expanded the town and had the moat, which dated back to the Roman era, filled in. Hence the street's name, which can be translated to ditch or trench. Most of the buildings on Graben date back to the early nineteenth century, when the street was widened. It is lined with some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, designed in a variety of architectural styles.
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