Only in Vienna by Duncan J.D. Smith

79 1 st District Beetz reserved something special for the public conveniences on Graben. Out of discretion he placed the facility underground, adver- tising its presence by a pair of Jugendstil lanterns, which doubled as ventilation chimneys. Unveiled in 1905 it boasts oak doors and brass washstands but despite such luxury it was always free to use (not so these days). The ladies’ side once contained an aquarium as proof of the purity of the water, and over the inevitable waterless urinal in the men’s area there hangs a copy of Beetz’s patent. Novelty is still a feature of toilets in Vienna. Take the Toilet of Modern Art, for instance, in the Hundertwasserhaus at Kegelgasse 36–38 (3 rd District), which is decorated with the flamboyant artist’s trademark crazed tiles and bold colours. There are also the futuristic conveniences designed by architect Manfred Wolff-Plotegg for the Café Korb (1 st District), the doors graphically identified with sans-serif punctuation marks. Slightly less cryptic is Café Ansari at Praterstrasse 15 (2 nd District), where the toilets are marked ‘K’ for Kings and ‘Q’ for Queens. And let’s not forget Café Diglas at Wollzeile 10 (1 st District), where the call of nature relies entirely on trust: the clear glass cubicle doors only turn opaque when locked from the inside! For those who love their toilet history, visit the Sanitation Museum (Sanitärhistorisches Museum) at Mollardgasse 87 (6 th District), which details Vienna’s treatment of wastewater since the 1880s. Centre stage is the last Otto Wagner toilet from his late-19 th century Stadtbahn station at Nussdorfer Strasse. Patent details over the Graben urinal Other places of interest nearby: 22, 29, 30, 32, 33 The Viennese penchant for including French words such as urinoir in their vocabulary is longstanding. The early Habsburgs strove to maintain their Spanish court manners and to avoid the rationalist influence of France but from the time of Empress Maria Theresa the influence of Paris grew. The language spoken at court was Schönbrunner Deutsch , a nasal upper class mode of speech sprinkled with French expressions. Even today the pavement is referred to as the Trottoir , a closet is a Garderobe , a milky coffee is a Mélange – and of course a gentlemen’s urinal is also known as a Pissoir !