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Europe’s second-largest river, the Danube, cuts through 10 countries, beginning in Germany and running towards the Black Sea. In Vienna, it is a key part of the city’s character. The Donau Kanal, also referred to as the Little Danube, serves as an evening hangout spot for many of the city’s young and has become an unofficial gallery for local and international street artists. Read on to discover more.
It is easy to see why the parade lining the Danube Canal is an attractive canvas for artists. The vast, empty spaces beg to be filled and there are plenty of discreet corners in which to embark on some undisturbed painting. Without the bursts of colour that the street art provides, the areas surrounding the river would don mostly domineering grey walls and hollow spaces. From the carefully curated murals to the anonymous scribbles, the street art has transformed this area and granted it a unique, gritty character that sets it apart from much of Vienna’s pristine reputation.
As well as the many frivolous sketches and murals that appear, a proportion of the graffiti is more striking in its message. The ‘Refugees Welcome’ motto, which rang among much of Europe after the crisis that occurred in 2016, nods to the liberal views of the city’s residents and can be spotted frequently along the banks of the canal.
Not all of the pieces are politically charged and full of meaning, however. There are plenty of tags, scribbles and sketches that do little other than add some vibrancy and colour to the urban landscape. Nonetheless, they are interesting artistic additions, with some incredibly intricate work that deserves your attention.
The quirky work below was created by prolific Vienna-based street artist PEKS, who tends to make humorous and light-hearted pieces along the banks of the canal. More of their work can be found here.
British street artist David Shillinglaw designed the eye-popping mural below. Described as ‘a mind adventurer’, his work stands out among the rest for having a distinct and energetic style, which is full of wit.
An especially appealing part of street art is its ever-evolving nature. The paint from new works blends, seamlessly or dissonantly, with the old, creating a layered effect that results in a constantly unique piece of work.
Exploring Vienna’s street art doesn’t require a tour guide – simply wander along the banks at your own pace and stop when something grabs your attention. A good place to start is on Schwedenplatz, in the heart of the city, where you can make your way towards the Prater.