Graben information

Vienna , Austria
Getting there
Metro: Stephansplatz
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Branching off from Stock-im-Eisen-Platz, Graben boasts two very remarkable sights. One of these is the writhing, towering Pestsäule , erected in 1693 to commemorate the end of the plague. It was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Not to be missed here are also Adolf Loos’ public toilets , which are in the Jugendstil design.

Graben literally began life as a ditch dug by the Romans to protect Vinodoba. In 1192 Leopold V filled in the ditch and built a defensive city wall that ended in Freyung, using as finance the ransom paid by arch-rival Richard the Lionheart, who at that time was being kept under lock and key in a castle near Dürnstein, on the Danube.

Other architectural highlights to look out for on Graben include the neo-Renaissance Equitable Palais at No 3; the ornate inner courtyard is tiled with Hungarian Zsolnay ceramics. The blackened and aged stump encased in glass on the building’s eastern corner was where apprentice journeyfolk during the Middle Ages would hammer nails into the stump to ensure a safe homeward journey. Also interesting are the neoclassical revivalist Erste Österreichische Sparkasse , 1836, on the corner of Tuchlauben, complete with a gilded bee symbolising thrift and industriousness, and the Jugendstil Grabenhof , 1876, at No 14, built by Otto Wagner using the plans of Otto Thienemann.