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Flak Towers (Flaktürme) in Vienna

Large Nazi war-time towers are now homes to thousands of birds

Best time: all year round

Flak Towers (Flaktürme)
Flak Towers (Flaktürme)
Flak Towers (Flaktürme)
Flak Towers (Flaktürme)

The Flak Towers (Flaktürme) remind people of WWII and look kind of out of place in modern European cities. These large concrete fortresses used to contain anti-aircraft guns to shoot down planes. Eight complexes of blockhouse towers were constructed by Hitler's government in Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna. They were used by the Luftwaffe to block allied air raids and also served as air-raid shelters for locals.

Each tower consisted of two towers that were able to fire 8,000 rounds per minute with a range of about 14 km and could shelter up to 10,000 people.

While most of them were destroyed during and after the war, Vienna still has six flak towers in Arenbergpark, Augarten Park, and Stiftskaserne and Esterhazypark.

One of them now belongs to a military base of the Austrian Army and another one became an aquarium in 1956, called Haus des Meeres. In Arenbergpark, two gigantic flakturms tower over the trees: the Flakturm VIII G-Tower hosts the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art and the L-Tower (Leitturm or Lead Tower) is planned to be used as a data centre for an IT firm. Some of the abandoned towers serve as homes to colonies of pigeons, while locals discuss possible projects for them.

Practical info

When were the Flak Towers built in Vienna?

Construction of the Flak Towers in Vienna occurred between 1942 and 1945, at the height of World War II. Their purpose was to safeguard German cities from Allied air attacks in addition to providing a sanctuary for residents during air strikes. After the war, the towers endured, despite the fact that the vast majority were destroyed. Vienna is now home to six remaining towers. Show more

Where are the six remaining Flak Towers located in Vienna?

Remnants of the Flak Towers in Vienna can be located in Stiftskaserne and Esterhazypark, Arenbergpark, and Augarten Park. Two Flak towers, the G-Tower and L-Tower, are situated in Arenbergpark. The Flakturm II can be found in Augarten Park while Flakturm VI and Flakturm VII are located in Stiftskaserne and Esterhazypark. In Vienna, these six Flak Towers are the only remaining ones that haven't been destroyed. Show more

How many people could the Flak Towers shelter during WWII?

During WWII, the Flak Towers in Vienna were designed to accommodate 10,000 people. Although their primary function was to store and operate anti-aircraft weapons to prevent air attacks on cities, they could also act as shelters for the local population. They had a range of about 14 km and could shoot down enemy planes with relative ease. Two Types of towers, G and L type towers, were constructed. Show more

What is the current use of the Flakturm VIII G-Tower in Arenbergpark?

At present, the Flakturm VIII G-Tower in Arenbergpark is a venue for the MAK Collection of Contemporary Art. The collection includes works of art from throughout Europe and the world, and it is one of Austria's largest collections of contemporary art, boasting thousands of pieces. After existing without a use following WWII, its status as an exhibition space did not take place until the 1990s, though it has been a popular attraction since then. Show more

Which animals live in an abandoned Flak Tower in Vienna?

Many abandoned Flak Towers in Vienna serve as habitats for large populations of pigeons. Some towers have been transformed, while others continue to be in their original post-war condition. Pigeon breeders and enthusiasts find the birds' nooks and crannies to be perfect places to keep and breed the animals. The towers' structural complexity is such that these birds are shielded from wind and rain. Around the towers, one can typically observe flocks of pigeons flying around or congregating. Show more

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