Start with sex in Vienna
All of the above has been thrown into sharp relief by the hugely popular exhibition Sex in Vienna, on show at the city’s Wien Museum until January 22, 2017.
Serious, scholarly but totally engrossing, pretty much everything you would ever want to now about sex is in here somewhere: prostitution, pornography, pick-up manuals, a potted history of contraception, the pecadilloes of Habsburg archdukes and – probably for the first time – an account of gay and lesbian life in the city.
One revealing detail: until 1920 each Viennese apartment block had an attendant responsible for checking-in residents coming home after 10pm, which basically meant that people couldn’t go out at night without being gossiped about. No wonder Viennese society was so repressed.
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See Schiele’s nudes at the Leopold Museum, Vienna
Nobody explored the emotional landscapes of lust, tenderness and self-disgust with more intensity than Egon Schiele (1890–1918), and the biggest collection of his works is at Vienna’s Leopold Museum.
Many contemporaries found Schiele’s gritty, overtly sexual nudes either grotesque or obscene; indeed he wasn’t fully recognized as a great painter until Rudolf Leopold started collecting his work in the 1950s.
There are more paintings by Schiele, as well as the famous Kiss by his mentor Gustav Klimt, in the Belvedere Palace.
Get academic with Freud, Vienna and Příbor
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), Totem and Taboo (1913); many of Sigmund Freud’s capital works were written at his first-floor apartment-cum-consulting room on Vienna’s Berggasse, now home to the Sigmund Freud Museum.
It’s a rather dry display, however; the Sigmund Freud Museum in his native town of Příbor in the Czech Republic contains a lot more human warmth. “Let me tell you about my childhood”, the voiceover to the biographical film archly begins.
Get flirty on a Ferris wheel, Vienna
Opened to the public in 1766, the Prater park has long served as Vienna’s prime location for promenading, flirting, or arranging the kind of assignations that often finished up with a bit of a fumble in the bushes.
The Prater’s famous giant Ferris wheel or Riesenrad went into operation in 1897, immediately becoming a favoured place for romantic encounters – a status it still very much enjoys.