People to the left, people to the right. The smell of fresh horse sh** to the front, and to the back comes the sound of a kid that wants ice cream and has decided screaming ‘EIS!!!!’ and demanding it like a high-pitched voiced little dictator is the way to go about it. We’re in Vienna’s city center.
We dart into one of the arch doorways made at a height for horses and all the sound is sucked out of the city.
None of this noise makes it into the haven of the Hofs (courtyards) of Vienna’s city center…
The street’s scenes can still be seen from within the Hofs through their entrances, and the same sky as out there can still be seen if you look up. The blue sky is framed perfectly by the apartment buildings.
Framed, the blue sky is a lot for the eye to swallow. The windows reflect it back as if they’re a bunch of little skies standing vertically themselves.
The open windows let off plumes of sounds of life being lived within the buildings. It all echoes and makes us wonder why not more concerts are held in Hofs.
Most of Vienna’s Hofs’s walls are hairy with green plant life.
Most of the Hofs are empty and hollow and calm and tranquil and (insert more adjectives that describe the sigh-inspiring state of your mind after a class-act orgasm).
Some of the Hofs contain people already. These ones we don’t intrude. This Hof is theirs. We poke our camera in, snap, and we’re gone.
We’ve been told that Hofs with balconies that wrap around its inner walls is a common feature amongst many of the old Viennese buildings in the city center.
We want to step out on all the balconies with plants thrown over them every morning.
We find ourselves ping-ponging between jealous thoughts hating on those living there, and thoughts plotting schemes on how we can start an affair with one of the old Viennese people living there, make them fall in love with us and include us in their will –
‘I want you to have my apartment with the blissfully green balcony and the close proximity to our favourite charming old coffeehouse, so you can relive all of the hot and passionate days we spent there together,’ the words of our dying elderly lover would say.
‘OK,’ we’d say.
You can’t see them from the street unless you’re looking for them, or your eyes stumble on a glance of them through a doorway.
Wandering the streets of the first district and discovering them gives us a kick. We’re not sure why.
Maybe because it feels like we’re being embraced by them in the looming shadows of their high walls.
Maybe it’s the exhale-all-the-worries-of-the-world calm that can be found within them.
Maybe it’s because we feel like we get to have the whole Hof to ourselves.
That is, until somebody living within them pokes their head out the window and sees some creep with a big Zen-like smile on their face, hugging their apartment building’s walls and taking photos of the inner courtyard of where they live.
Then it just gets awkward.
The Hofs featured in this photo story were all discovered off of the following streets in Vienna’s first district: