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The Central Cemetery
The Central Cemetery
|Location 48° 8′ 58″ N, 16° 26′ 28″ E|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility yes|
|Geographical Coordinates 48.14947,16.44217|
The Zentralfriedhof (German for "Central Cemetery") is one of the largest cemeteries in the world.
In addition to the Catholic section, there is a Protestant cemetery and two Jewish cemeteries. Although the older of the two, established in 1863, was destroyed by the Nazis during Kristallnacht, around 60,000 graves still remain intact. Prominent burials here include those of the Rothschild family and that of the author Arthur Schnitzler. The second Jewish cemetery was built in 1917 and is still in use today.
History and time period
The decision to establish a new, big cemetery for Vienna came in 1863. Around that time, it became clear that – due to industrialization – the population would eventually increase to such an extent that the existing communal cemeteries would prove insufficient. It was expected that Vienna, then capital of the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, would grow to have four million inhabitants by the end of the 20th century (no-one could know that the Empire would collapse in 1918). The city council therefore decided to assign an area significantly outside of the city's borders and of such a gigantic dimension, that it would suffice for a long time to come. It was decided in 1869 that a flat area in Simmering should be the site of the future Zentralfriedhof. The cemetery opened in 1874.
The city announced that it did not want an official Catholic opening of the new cemetery - but gave a substantial amount of money towards the construction of a segregated Jewish section. In the end, an agreement was found and the Catholic representatives opened the Zentralfriedhof with a small blessing ceremony, but refrained from too much ceremonial pomposity. So the new cemetery was inaugurated almost unnoticed to avoid an escalation of the public controversy.