Kultur- und Themenführungen - Wien Fremdenführer - Wien

Cultural walking tours - Vienna

Guided tours - Vienna


Red Vienna: social democratic policy and municipal housing projects in the interwar period

In the dismal years following the breakdown of the imperial state, living conditions in the overcrowded capital of the first republic were dreadful: mass unemployment, shortage of food and housing, tuberculosis, alcoholism, social misery. The first free elections in 1919 lead to a social democratic majority in the city council and in 1922 Vienna separated from Lower Austria and became an independent Federal State: Red Vienna was born. On the ideological basis of Marxism the Social Democrats set out for an ambitious plan of remarkable reforms in the fields of health, education, culture and housing. The outstanding achievements in the years between 1922 and 1934 were the numerous social housing blocks which are still to be seen in contemporary Vienna. But Red Vienna did not only struggle for a better life situation of the working class, its utopian aim was to create a new society.





The tour starts at the ancient employment office of the metalworkers in the 5th district, a modern building of reinforced concrete from 1929. Passing the former garage of the municipal buses we get to the first city-owned apartment block: the Julius-Popp-Hof located on the Margaretengürtel. This building marks the beginning of the so-called “Ring Boulevard” of the working class. Crossing the intimate Chiavacci-Park we come to the Herwegh-Hof with its beautiful green courtyards and a great number of appealing ornamental details such as nicely decorated bow windows and balconies. After a short visit to Metzleinstaler-Hof, the first municipal apartment block built in 1920, with its windows framed with coloured ceramic plates, and the imposing double-winged Matteotti-Hof we get to the grand Reumann-Hof. Its monumental façade and elegant courtyard surrounded by arcades as well as the numerous exquisite decorative elements evoke the architecture of historical palaces. 

From there we use public transport to get to the most famous building complex of Red Vienna, the Karl-Marx-Hof in the 19th district. The monumental block more than a kilometre long was designed to contain about 1.380 apartments. It also offers infrastructure facilities such as workshops, laundries, a dental clinic, nurseries, drugstores, libraries, shops, restaurants and public baths. At the end of our tour we will visit the permanent exhibition of “Red Vienna” located in one of the former bath houses



Practical information


MEETING POINT: we meet at the ancient employment office of the metalworkers: at the corner of Siebenbrunnenfeld-Gasse and Obere Amtshaus-Gasse (5th district). Go by tram to Matzleinsdorfer-Platz (line 1, 62 or the local train to Baden, leaving from the Opera - exit: Wiedner-Haupt-Strasse) and walk down the Reinprechtsdorfer-Strasse. The second street left is the Siebenbrunnenfeld-Gasse. The white office building where the tour starts is 150m further on your right hand side.

DURATION: 3 hours.

ADMISSION FEES: Museum "Das rote Wien" within Karl-Marx-Hof.

TICKETS FOR THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT: It is recommended to have tickets for the public transport ready before the tour starts.

SOME DIFFICULT WORDS: “Hof” means an apartment block with an inner courtyard. The “Ring” is the 19th century representative boulevard of the high bourgeoisie which was built on the site of the ancient city walls.

FURTHER READING: Eva Blau, The Architecture of Red Vienna 1919-1934, New York 1999.

Helmut Gruber, Red Vienna: Experiment in Working-Class Culture 1919-1934, New York, Oxford 1991.