Naschmarkt is not only the biggest market in Vienna, but also the most colourful and picturesque. Starting near Karlsplatz Square right behind the infamous Secession it stretches all the way down to the subway station Kettenbrückengasse.
At least on a normal weekday. In opposition to Saturdays. During the wee small hours on Saturday, when whole Vienna appears to be sound asleep, the weird little folk of flea marketers set up their stalls and trade their most exquisite goods - between all the rubbish and kitsch, that means. So be sure to go there in the early morning, when at least some of the jewels are still waiting to be discovered.
If you are interested in classical music, Theater an der Wien is located at the beginning of the Naschmarkt at Linke Wienzeile. It used to be a musical theatre for quite a long time and is now an opera again. Although this is the place where Mozart’s Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) was first performed in collaboration with Emmanuel Schikaneder, it still fights for its reputation as an opera. Decades ago, the German debut performance of the musical Cats established Theater an der Wien as leading musical stage in the German speaking countries. A lot of international musical hits like Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line, as well as in-house productions like Elisabeth - the story of Empress Elisabeth (Sisi), the wife of Emperor Franz Josef II. - continued this success story, until city officials decided that it would be time to bestow Vienna with a third opera house.
Short history recap: the market started prospering and growing in 1793 after a law was released that made it compulsory to sell all fruit and vegetables brought to Vienna by carriage at Naschmarkt. The river Wien was canalized around 1900 and the so created space was now formally called Naschmarkt. Some of the world’s most important Art Noveau architects - Otto Wagner - was in charge designing the Naschmarkt in 1905. Actually, they just thought of it as a temporarily solution as there were plans to build a pompous boulevard connecting Hofburg area with Schloss Schönbrunn. But as you might guess, the little detail of WWI and the end of the empire came in the way. Otto Wagner left - by the way - two other imprints: two of his most important buildings erected 1899 at Linke Wienzeile 38 and 40, the left building covered in majolika tiles, which leads to the German name “Majolikahaus”.
The well-known market has now around 170 market stalls and whereas you can get goods from all over the world, it tends to has kind of an emphasis towards South-Eastern Europe, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern Food. Especially noticeable with all the delis like Do-An, Naschmarkt Deli, Neni, Orient & Occident and Umar.
Around the Naschmarket grew two “new districts” - a small kind of china town at Rechte Wienzeile with its extremely well sorted supermarekts and little tea rooms and - maybe a bit more interesting for you - the gay village. Especially well worth seeing is Cafe Savoy - a classics. If you prefer a bit of hip music after having a nice warming coffee at Savoy, you will maybe find Mango bar after your liking - or Village - or Sling. So be there or be square!