Coffin © B&F Wien - Bestattung und Friedhöfe GmbH

Burial Museum

It‛s no secret that the Viennese have a strange attitude towards death. Why so? They are just not taking it too serious.

Simmeringer Hauptstraße 230–244

1110 Wien


Vienna has a long and complex relationship with death that is deeply ingrained in its history and culture.

One of the most notable manifestations of this relationship is the city's elaborate funeral and burial traditions. Vienna is home to several famous cemeteries, including the Central Cemetery, which is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe and is the final resting place of many famous figures, including composers such as Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss.

Vienna is also known for its unique funeral customs, including the use of black horses and ornate carriages for funeral processions, as well as the tradition of playing the music of famous composers during funeral ceremonies.

The city also has a long history of mourning rituals and memorials, dating back to the Habsburg dynasty, which ruled over Austria for several centuries. The Habsburgs were known for their elaborate mourning ceremonies and their use of mourning jewelry, which often featured intricate designs and depictions of death and grief.

Beyond its funeral and burial traditions, Vienna's relationship with death is also reflected in its art and architecture. The city is home to several famous landmarks and monuments that celebrate death and legends about people who cheated death, like "der liebe Augustin" a popular Harmonica player and  drunk who fell into a pest pit while intoxicated and got away unscathed – except a hangover – after sleeping it off in the pit over night. 

They seem to like the cliche of the morbid Vienna, therefore they boost it with joy. And the Burial Museum tops that all just with its existence. The Museum was founded in 1967. Back then it was the first Museum in the world which was exclusively devoted to death cult and burial rituals. To be „a beautiful dead body‟ („a schene Leich‟) in the end was very important in Vienna in the past. Today an individual funeral is en vogue – Falco knew how to do it and let some rocker carry his coffin.


Buy Me A Coffee

The probably funniest exhibit in the Museum is the so called flap-coffin. The bottom side of this coffin has a flap that would be opened to drop the dead body into the grave – the coffin could be reused afterwards. Emperor Franz Joseph II. had the idea for this object which was used for a very short period. Another strange object is the „Leichentram‟ (corpse tramway) which was in use during both World Wars and could transport up to twelve coffins at a time. „Next stop Zentralfriedhof?‟ Well … As bizarre is the alarm clock for seemingly dead people. It was fixed on the wrist and rang if the person moved. To visit the Museum you have to book one of the very good guided tours (daily offered). Don‛t forget to bring your black humor!