Vienna Sights


Griechenbeisl (Greeks Tavern) Review

If you want to find a nook where time seems to be holding its breath, head to where the Fleischmarkt (Meat Market) meets the hilly, cobblestoned Griechengasse. Part of the city's oldest core, this street has a genuine medieval feel, thanks to Vienna's only surviving 14th-century watchtower and an ivy-covered tavern, the Griechenbeisl, which has been in business for some 500 years. Half a millennium ago, this quarter was settled by Greek and Levantine traders (there are still many rug dealers here) and many of them made this tavern their "local." The wooden carving on the facade of the current restaurant commemorates Marx Augustin—best known today from the song "Ach du lieber Augustin"—an itinerant musician who sang here during the plague of 1679. A favored Viennese figure, he fell into a pit filled with plague victims but survived, presumably because he was so pickled in alcohol. In fact, this tavern introduced one of the great pilsner brews of the 19th century and everyone—from Schubert to Mark Twain, Wagner to Johann Strauss—came here to partake. Be sure to dine here to savor its low-vaulted rooms adorned with engravings, mounted antlers, and bric-a-brac; the Mark Twain Zimmer has a ceiling covered with autographs of the rich and famous dating back two centuries. Adjacent to the tavern is a Greek Orthodox Church partly designed by the most fashionable neoclassical designer in Vienna, Theophil Hansen.

Updated: 06-14-2012

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