The Cemetery Of The Nameless

Of the near 50 cemeteries scattered throughout the city of Vienna, this oft-overlooked haunt is by far the creepiest.

The nameless folk buried on these grounds were victim of the dangerous Danube waters, washed ashore here between 1840 and 1940. And with no indiction as to where they called home, this spot became their final resting place.

The Cemetery Of The Nameless actually consists of two separate grounds with over 500 people buried within. However, the original cemetery also had the Danube to tend to, and was subject to such frequent flooding that it was abandoned in 1900 and lost amongst the overgrown trees.

The image above is all that remains of the cemetery. Iron crosses mark each of the 140 graves, most with a simple  “namenlos” (“nameless” or “unknown”) attached.

Of those buried here, most are thought to have taken their own lives and so, were unable to be buried in the official Catholic cemeteries. They remain faceless to this day.

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But, those few who were able to be identified have some morbidly fascinating stories to tell.

One of the most saddening is that of Wilhelm Töhn. The 11-year-old boy murdered in the Danube, apparently at the hands of a stranger. Even now, you will always find a small toy or two by his grave which, while touching, only adds to the haunting aura of the place.

If this Cemetery Of The Nameless seems to ring a bell, it’s probably because of its starring role in Richard Linklater’s 1995 film Before Sunrise.

The lead characters, strangers to start, spend their evening roaming Vienna and manage (quite impossibly, mind you) to make it to the cemetery. For those who have seen the movie, it gives the isolated spot a strangely romantic atmosphere.

Where to find it: This one is a bit of a trek and just barely makes it into the boundaries of Vienna. You’ll first have to take the U3 line to Enkplatz then switch to bus 76A and alight at Alberner Hafen (NOT just Alberner – that’s a 2km away mistake you don’t want to make). Be mindful of the timetables, too. Buses are few and far in between and I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be keen to be stranded there overnight.

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3 comments

  1. That was such an interesting read and although this place would probably give me the creeps in real life, I think it’s so fascinating to hear and read about. I would love if one day they could somehow identify everyone there so that they were no longer nameless…

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    • Thanks Julia. It’s a fascinating place though I think those poor people have sadly been lost to time. Something I didn’t mention is that there is a nearby hut which houses the cemetery overseer so at least these graves are being tended to, and are by no means forgotten. It’s not much but it’s important, I think.

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