Dispatch from the Road

Running Circles Around Vienna's Ringstrasse

by Darrell Hartman
The The Burgtheater of Vienna. Photo courtesy of Jungles in Paris.

On a trip to Vienna, co-founder and editor Darrell Hartman produced a jazzy short film on the city's famous Ringstrasse, or Ring Road. Here he shares some thoughts on the Austrian capital and info on the scene.

VIENNA – The Ringstrasse is the organizing roadway of Vienna, and it's evident the moment you arrive. I don't think I've ever been to a place where a single traffic artery structured a city so authoritatively. Inside the Ring, you've got the museum-like Old City. This is the city of Mozart and Brahms. Much of it is quiet, with sober facades and giant old windows and cobblestone streets where horse-drawn carriages take tourists on tour. Outside the Ring is a more dynamic and modern city, the sort of place where people actually live and do their grocery shopping.

And then there's the Ring Road itself. It is very much its own center of energy. There's the constant circular motion of traffic, and along it a huge string of monumental buildings from the 19th century. The State Opera, the Parliament, and the Museum of Natural History are just a few examples.

We figured that the best way to see, film, and experience the Ringstrasse was from one of the trams that followed the road. But we ended up filming from far more than one tram. Our challenges were finding the right routes to take (trams would exit the Ring from different points) and finding windows clean enough to shoot through. By the end of it, cinematographer Orlando Gili and I spent nearly the whole day going back and forth. Or, if you like, around in circles.


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