Tales of Dragons and Saints: Vienna for Children

Tales of Dragons and Saints: Vienna for Children

Tales-of-Dragons-and-Saints-2This walk is designed for families visiting Vienna with children.  Moving through the Inner Stadt, we look backward to the city’s legends of brave knights and fearful dragons, while passing churches, monasteries, noble and humble residences.

For starters, we help kids to examine the central cathedral of Stephansdom, the landmark of Vienna.  We tell the history of the building’s construction and how it influenced the entire city landscape around it. Walking through the huge church, we consider the decorations favored in Gothic building as well as the craftsmanship needed to create such a building in the medieval period. To this day, a large coterie of people are working constantly to maintain the building. They have special jobs which we explain. We will also see several religious figures and consider the mythic powers that were believed to be connected with them. An example is Zahnwehherrgott – The Toothache Jesus – who clearly is in agony.  But he has strong powers, so it is best not to laugh at him.

Tales-of-Dragons-and-Saints-3Vienna in the Middle Ages was a typical Christian city and was not only dominated by the main church in the city centre but also by the many monasteries. We explore two. The Franciscan Monastery Kapuziner Kloster is an isolated order which is trusted to care for the graves of the Habsburg Family and pray for their souls. They have very little contact to society outside.  By contrast, the Deutschorden (Teutonic Knights) is a knightly order which was devoted to running a hospital for the crusaders returning from Jerusalem and guest houses were crusaders passed the night on their way to Jerusalem. What they are doing today in Vienna is a tale we tell while visiting their interesting little church housed a few meters from Stephansdom.

Tales-of-Dragons-and-Saints-4Daily life in Vienna was hard in the 15th century.  As we move along the narrow old streets with their mix of noble palaces and common houses, we help kids to grasp the average activities of common people and nobility and to understand how medieval society was organised.  How were guilds structured?  What were the city’s traditions?  How did children live? How could you find someone living in Vienna using the old style of house numbers?  All along the way, we encounter mythical figures of people and animals that have left their legends all along the cobbled streets of Old Vienna.

ProkschChristine Proksch holds a BA in Cultural Journalism and a MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Copenhagen. She finished with a Master about the Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler. In order to dig deeper into her favourite topic, Austrian Literature around 1900, she studied German and Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna and fell deeply in love with the city and the vast cultural landscape. Since 1998 she has lived permanently in the city.. Today she mainly works as a cultural journalist reporting to Danish Medias about the cultural life in Central Europe. She has also written the most sold Vienna guide and guide to Austria in Denmark.
SmithNicholas Smith is an American who moved his life to Vienna after marrying an Austrian. He is in the last year of completing his MA in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City while also freelancing writing articles on Vienna history, arts and culture for The Vienna Review (the largest and most distinguished English language newspaper in Austria).
OconnorStephen O’Connor earned his PhD in Military History at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is passionate about recounting the many ferocious battles waged over Vienna from Roman times through the Ottomon Threat, Napoleon, the Hapsburgs, and of course, the global wars of the 20th century. In fact, he is as passionate as most Irishmen are deemed to be at recounting a good tale of any kind, but particularly those that have to do with the fascinating history, arts and culture of the Vienna he moved to and fell in love with along with the Austrian who he married there. He presently works as a teacher of English for Viennese professionals.