Have you ever thought about visiting Vienna as a capital city for crafts rooted in centuries of tradition? We have recently experienced the Austrian capital through its factories, and met the families who for many generations have contributed to shaping the city’s renown for excellence in manufacturing productions, such as silver, shoes or glass. Before visiting them yourselves, I recommend arranging for a prior meeting date and time, just to be on the safe side. We started exploring centrally and comfortably from Hotel Das Tigra. The hotel is located right inside the first city district of Vienna; their claim is that even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart already chose to stay here.
Factory # 1: The Perzy Family and their famous “Vienna Snow Globe” production.
Just as the summer heat has us melt, it snows. That is, right next to us in the workshop. Right inside a tiny courtyard, located in Vienna’s 17th city district, we are welcomed by Erwin Perzy, who calls himself @SnowManTheThird on Instagram. Him and his family have been working on producing snow globes for about a century, and Erwin has now chosen to hand down the business to his daughter, continuing in the workshop with his son-in-law (you can’t retire from a passion, can you). We love listening to his many tales about his family, and how the Original Vienna Snow Globe production came about: His grandfather, a mechanic for surgery instruments, was actually looking for something completely different, a kind of enlarged light bulb, and the first “snow” inside this kind of globe happened to be semolina! Today, Erwin laughs, “it’s like with the world famous Sacher cake: Only I know the recipe for the very snow flake ingredients inside each globe. But you’re right, it’s time I tell my daughter, as she’s now the official company director ..!” We gladly follow him inside the workshop and museum.
Factory # 2: Jarosinski & Vaugoin Fine Art Silver.
In the noble silver shop, we are welcomed by the CEO himself: The Vaugoin family came to Vienna during the Napoleonic era, and even his name, Jean-Paul Vaugoin, still bears witness to this connection. Here, too, we get to look behind the scenes of the noble Biedermeier house in Vienna’s 7th district, not far from the well-known Mariahilferstraße, after detailed and very interesting discussions about sales psychology, trend reversals and curious experiences with long-standing customers. I was particularly impressed by Jean-Paul’s openness, who tells us a lot about his family, his values and his at times very personal experiences. As if we were part of his long-standing customer base, well-versed in the craft of fine art silver. A whole new world, which almost shames me into thinking that my actual cutlery is, well, as almost everyone’s, from IKEA …!
Factory # 3: Scheer Shoes and Shoemakers.
Even a few days after our visit to the “k.u.k. Hof-Schuhmacher Scheer“, who have been shoemakers since the times of the Austrian emperor, I am deeply touched by reading Markus Scheer’s book, “The foot knows everything”. The shoemaker, whose family has already produced shoes for the likes of the Emperor Franz Joseph, loves to share the virtues of his craft and his love of detail with us. As we stand inside his workshop, I grab a copy of his book: Why are baby feet so irresistible?, is a chapter that naturally speaks to me as a mother of our young son Liam. Markus himself is currently raising five children, and still manages to stand before us with collected calm, balance and energy. I am impressed. As soon as I have a few thousand Euros left, I can see myself investing in a pair of Scheer shoes. Because, we learn, a pair of handmade custom-made shoes requires many dozens of working hours at Scheer, drawing on the knowledge of countless generations of shoemakers, journeymen and apprentices. The view into the traditional shop near the Graben in the middle of Vienna is definitely worthwhile. Check this out.
Factory # 4: Glassworks Comploj.
From visiting factories rooted in tradition, we swap history for modernity at Comploj Glassworks. Of course, glass production too follows a very long history, however what we see at Comploj is a modern output of glass art tradition. There are literally all kinds of shapes and colours displayed in the sales room, and you may also take a peek behind the scenes of modern glass production. Comploj also hosts creative art courses where you can learn to create a unique piece of glass art yourself.
Factory # 5: Altmann & Kühne.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time left for visiting or tasting the sweet delicacies of this traditional pastry shop, where every single confectionery is made by hand, rolled and filled with the most diverse patterns. Looking at the display of mouth-watering confectionery in the middle of the Graben in Vienna’s city centre, not far from the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we are tempted into buying many sweet presents for ourselves and loved ones. Worth knowing: The queue of waiting customers can sometimes reach right up to the door of the shop!
More tips about where to eat and what to do on your next trip to Vienna.
In addition to visiting creative factories, I can also give you a few foodie and contemporary travel tips for your next visit to Vienna. For example, from Monday to Friday, you can enjoy excellent Viennese cuisine at Gastwirtschaft Stopfer on Rudolfsplatz (this is where our little son Liam, who joined our group with his grandmother, ate his very first Wiener Schnitzel at the age of 14 months!). In the evening, we dined at Restaurant Ellas on Vienna’s Judenplatz, which offered us a delightful “trip to the Mediterranean” with its furnishings and dishes. Also in the early evening, we enjoyed a private tour through the Austrian collection of the Belvedere Museum, completely without other visitors. Lovely.
During the day, I can highly recommend an excursion to the Bohemian Prater Amusement Park (Laaer Wald, 10th district of Vienna) as well as a guided tour called “Vienna’s hidden courtyards & Pawlatschen balconies“. There were actually passages or inner courtyards that I have probably passed dozens of times, but never really “seen” or actually managed to cross before.
More pictures from our Vienna trip:
Disclaimer: We have been invited by Hotel Das Tigra on this trip through Vienna and its creative factories and historical workshops. All opinions are my own.