Friday, 5 September 2014

In search of Hügel Park (almost a pilgrimmage)...

When I visited the Herbarium at the NHM, I mentioned in passing to Andrea that somewhere in Vienna there was a statue of Baron Karl von Hügel. I also confessed to her that I wandered round Hietzing for the best part of an afternoon hoping to stumble upon it (my internet searches had yielded nothing about its exact location).

Glass houses at Schönbrunn Palace.
I enjoyed my ramble, which started at Schönbrunn Palace and then expanded in the neighbouring ‘suburb’ of Hietzing. This is where Hügel lived after his world botanizing trip, and where his famous gardens were. (His home was bulldozed around the turn of last century).

The Cunningham brothers, always nearby.

House decorations, a wandering line. 
Plastic bags for dog owners, the world over...
As I was finishing up at the Herbarium an employee named Michael came and found me in the depths of the herbarium with a map printed from the computer. He had found Hügel Park, within which one could assume the statue sat. Dr Vitek offered some advice regarding exact location of tram stops (having grown up in the neighbourhood). He also marked on the map where another well-known Austrian botanist had lived (I’m afraid her name escapes me). It is probably a coincidence but it was rather nice to think one could name a handful of botanists who had lived in Hietzing.

Embassy in Hietzing

Pink House on Hügelgasse
My track, the straight green line is the satelite's interpretation of my train ride from Wien.
First sighting of VH
 When I look on the map now, I can see how close I was to where I wanted to go. I was not lost, or indeed bushed, but my inability to interpret this unfamiliar landscape and find the most likely place for the statue’s whereabouts did need some inside information.

Local signage
Framed by trees
Also framed by leaves, back at Schönbrunn Palace.

Thank you 'Gut photographer'! (Playground in the background.)

Hügel himself (even in marble) is very imposing. Having since visited an exhibition, The Brancusi Effect, I can reflect on the role of the plinth in Hügel in the Park. The extra couple of metres in height provided the statue with an outlook over the kindergarten and an air about ‘him’ that matches the descriptions of the living man.  He seemed totally unperturbed by the mass of small children playing and shouting gleefully in the playground directly behind him. And I was ever so grateful to the woman, with whom I shared no common language, beyond arm waving, who took the photo of me with Hügel—proof that I made it.

Me and VH

Back to the train, job done.

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