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Vienna is an on-foot museum of early modern architecture.

The city that talked to Freud, listened to Schoenberg's experimental music, and Philosophized with Wittgenstein also produced a remarkable collection of early modern architectural monuments. Between 1894 and 1914, Vienna experienced a golden era of architectural invention. From a huge erector-set ferris wheel to the flowery tiled facade of an apartment house, Vienna's art nouveau (Jugendstil) buildings vividly expressed the cultural vitality of the age.

Such works contrasted sharply with the previous generation of more traditionally styled structures. They also helped inspire two of Southern California's most famous modern architects, Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra, who received their architectural educations in Vienna before emigrating to Los Angeles.

Today, you can still see much of what they saw. Our map locates seven early modern landmarks. Most are on or near the Ringstrasse, on the edge of the city center. Streetcars run along the multi-named Ringstrasse; a 24-hour pass, good also on the subway, costs about $3. Taxis, which cost about 76 cents per kilometer with a base charge of $1.70, would be the easiest way to make the tour, with brief walks between some buildings.

1. Riesenrad (ferris wheel). At the edge of the Prater- -Vienna's Central Park the Riesenrad is a good place to start your tour. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it expresses its structure in a straightforward manner: every strut, rivet, and cable is visible. This landmark figured prominently in Carol Reed's brooding 1949 thriller, The Third Man. Hours: 9 A.M. to 11 Pm. April through September, 10 to 10 daily in March and October.

2. Postsparkasse (postal savings bank). A half-hour walk southwest, across the Danube Canal and along the Stubenring, will bring you to this office by Otto Wagner. Exposed anchor bolts create an orderly pattern across the modular, rectilinear facade. The surprise is inside: a continuous glass vault floods the banking hall with light. It's a good place to change travelers' checks. Hours: 8 to 3 Mondays through Wednesdays, 8 to 5:30 Thursdays, 8 to 5 Fridays.

3. Osterreichisches Museum fur Angewandete Kunst (Austrian Museum of Applied Art). Several blocks farther, at Stubenring 5, this venerable institution was founded as a showcase for national design. Several of its cavernous galleries contain decorative objects from the turn of the century, including furniture by Josef Hoffmann and paintings by Gustav Klimt. Hours: 11 to 6 Thursdays through Mondays; closed holidays.

4. Karlsplatz Stadtbahn (municipal railway station). About 12 long blocks southwest (2 blocks south of the Ringstrasse) is the municipal railway station at Karlsplatz. Part of a network of stations designed by Otto Wagner in 1898, this restored structure is one of the most elegant. Floral designs in gold leaf and vaulted roofs make its two pavilions resemble stylish cabooses; one has a cafe.

5. Sezessionhaus (Secession building). Three blocks north, at Friedrichstrasse 12, Joseph Olbrich's famous structure with its spherical, laurel leaf patterned dome was built in 1 898 as the new exhibition hall for an association of artists who seceded from the more conservative art establishment. The one permanent installation is a striking mural by Gustav Klimt illustrating Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Hours: 10 to 6 Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 to 4 Saturdays and Sundays.

6. Majolikahaus. An apartment house at Linke Wienzeile 40 (about six blocks west of the Secession building) is worth driving by for its facade covered in flower-decorated ceramic tiles. Wagner built it in 1899 as an investment. Adjoining apartment buildings are from the same period, but are more subdued.

7. Looshaus. In the heart of the old city center, at Michaelerplatz 3, this building combines offices and flats. Designed in 1909 by the theoretician-architect Adolf Loos, it sparked controversy for its apparent radical simplicity. Loos relied on strict proportions and rich materials such as vividly veined green marble to give his building a rich sobriety. The interior is remodeled.
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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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