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Tuesday September 25th 2018

Before Sunrise | 1995

Before Sunrise filming location: Riesenrad, Prater, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the first kiss: Riesenrad, Prater, Vienna, Austria

Despite its freewheeling, improvised feel, Richard Linklater’s romance is clearly staged with great precision.

Unfeasibly beautiful loose ends Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet cute on a trans-European rail journey from Budapest to Paris, and decide spontaneously to disembark at Vienna.

If the quasi-documentary style has led you to believe you can follow in the footsteps of Celine and Jesse easily around the city, you’ll be in for a surprise. You can visit the spots seen in the film but you'll need plenty of stamina and certainly more than one night.

The starting point for their Viennese night is the Wien Westbahnhof (Vienna West Station) on Europaplatz, at Mariahilfer Straße and the Gürtel ring road.

Until the opening of Wien Hauptbahnhof in 2015, Westbahnhof was the city’s main railway terminus, and the starting point of Austria’s Westbahn (West Railway), linking Vienna to Salzburg.

Before Sunrise location: Zollamssteg, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse and Celine meet the guys promoting their play: Zollamssteg, Vienna, Austria

You might have assumed that their first stop – the green-girdered, wooden-planked footbridge on which the pair bumps into two guys promoting Bring Me The Horns Of Wilmington's Cow, their play about a delusional, dope-smoking bovine, is alongside the railway station (given the shot of the rail lines which pass diagonally beneath the bridge).

Before Sunrise location: Zollamssteg, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse and Celine meet the guys promoting their play: Zollamssteg, Vienna, Austria

In fact, the Zollamssteg Bridge (U: Stubentor, Line U3) could hardly be further away. It's way across on the eastern side of the city, crossing the River Wien (Vienna River) just south of its junction with the Donaukanal (Danube Canal), above the U4 Line rail bridge.


The footbridge links Schallautzerstraße with Vorderer Zollamsstraße, and is just to the north of Wien Mitte – the main central rail station. Since filming, the picturesque wooden planking has been replaced with sensible asphalt.

The bridge can be briefly glimpsed again in Nicolas Roeg's disturbing psychodrama Bad Timing, with Theresa Russell and Art Garfunkel.

Before Sunrise location: Votivkirche, Rooseveltplatz, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the tram passes the twin spires: Votivkirche, Rooseveltplatz, Vienna, Austria

To find the fantastically well-stocked record store, in which Jesse and Celine listen to Kath Bloom in the record booth, you need to head halfway back toward the station.

This time they choose to ride the city's tram system – taking a picturesque route, turning from Schottengasse into Universitatsstrasse, in front of the twin spires of the Votivkirche (Votive Church), Rooseveltplatz 8 (which is some way to the north).

Before Sunrise location: Teuchtler Schallplattenhandlung, Windmuhlgasse 10, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse and Celine listen to Kath Bloom in the vinyl shop: Teuchtler Schallplattenhandlung, Windmühlgasse, Vienna, Austria

The record shop itself is Teuchtler Schallplattenhandlung, Windmühlgasse 10 (U: Kettenbrückengasse, Line U4), southwest of the city centre. In business since 1948 and still thriving in 2017, the shop is a vinyl collector’s heaven with – as you can see in the movie – a bewildering array of discs ranging from classic jazz albums to brand new promos.

Before Sunrise filming location: Maria Theresien Platz, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Maria Theresien Platz, Vienna, Austria

The scene segues into the couple's stroll through the elegant square of Maria Theresien Platz (U: Museumsquartier, Line U2), back northeast in the Museum District, between the symmetrically matched Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) – which is what you can see in the background. The imposing throned figure surrounded by equestrian statues is the Empress Maria-Theresa herself.

Before Sunrise filming location: Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse and Celine visit the old cemetery: entrance to the Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria

There’s a train ride next, which is fair enough as the cemetery, which Celine remembers visiting as a teenager, is a good distance out of the city centre at the Alberner Hafen docks on the River Danube in the 11th district. It's a sight more difficult to get to than the film suggests.

Before Sunrise filming location: Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the chapel of the old cemetery: entrance to the Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria

The poignant Friedhof der Namenlosen (Cemetery of the Nameless), Alberner Straße 54, is a tiny graveyard in which, generally unidentified, bodies retrieved from the Danube were buried, between the years 1900 and 1935. It's a sad, deserted little spot. The odd circular concrete 'pillbox' building you can see is the cemetery's chapel, which is generally closed.

Before Sunrise filming location: Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the entrance to the cemetery: Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria

There are three or four rows of near-identical black metal crosses, each with a silver Christ, most of which are identified only by a number.

Before Sunrise filming location: Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the tiny cemetery: Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria

Grave No. 36, which in the film Celine remembers from her childhood, doesn't bear a name plaque for 'Elizabeth" – it's just one more of the anonymously numbered plots.

Before Sunrise filming location: Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Number 36, the grave of 'Elizabeth': Friedhof Der Namenlosen, Vienna, Austria

To reach the cemetery, take Line U3 to Enkplatz. From the U-Bahn station, turn right along Simmeringe Hauptstrasse to Krausegasse, from where you can catch the 76A bus to Alberner Hafen (which is the end of the route). It's about a 20 minute journey and buses are every hour.

From here, follow the small signpost – you'll still have a ten minute walk through an unlovely industrial estate before you reach the small flight of steps leading into a spot of green shade.

Before Sunrise location: Riesenrad, Prater, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the first kiss: Riesenrad, Prater, Vienna, Austria

The mournful mood lightens back in the city as sunset finds the couple enjoying one of the city's most famous attractions. They ride the Wiener Riesenrad, the giant ferris wheel at the western end of Prater park (U: Praterstern, Lines U1 or U2), and enjoying their first kiss. You'll see the wheel from the train as you approach, it's near to the main entrance.


It's a slow and stately ride, and no longer the novelty it once was now that every major city has its own huge ferris wheel, but the Riesenrad comes with its own unique history. The entrance hall contains a quirky little display on the wheel's history and some of the park's other long-gone attractions. If it's a special occasion and you don't mind splashing out, why not book a candle-lit dinner in the Wheel's Crystal Cabin?

Before Sunrise location: Riesenrad, Prater, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the first kiss: Riesenrad, Prater, Vienna, Austria

This is the film's first nod to Orson Welles, the location for Harry Lime's meeting with Holly Martins in Carol Reed's 1948 classic The Third Man (Linklater has, of course, since gone on to direct Me And Orson Welles). The wheel is also featured in 1987 Bond movie, The Living Daylights, with Timothy Dalton as 007.

Before Sunrise location: Kleines Cafe, Franziskanerplatz, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the encounter with the palm reader: Kleines Cafe, Franziskanerplatz, Vienna, Austria

After a stroll through the funfair, it’s west again to the little square of Franziskanerplatz in the old city (U: Stephansplatz, Lines U1 or U3).

At a table outside the Kleines Café, Franziskanerplatz 3, in the shadow of Franziskanerkirche, Celine consults a palm reader (Erni Mangold), as Jesse reveals his innate scepticism. 'The Little Cafe', more a bar than a cafe (though you can get a bite to eat), is owned by actor Hanno Pöschlo, who’s given a cameo at the beginning of the film as the disgruntled husband on the train.

Before Sunrise location: Maria am Gestade, Salvatorgasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Celine and Jesse visit the church: Maria am Gestade, Salvatorgasse, Vienna, Austria

A few blocks north, there's a peaceful moment – apparently – in the quiet of the 15th century Gothic church of Maria am Gestade, Salvatorgasse 12. This is another location prominently seen in The Third Man – you may recognise the imposing flight of steps which lead up to it.

Before Sunrise location: Maria am Gestade, Salvatorgasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse describes the simple Quaker wedding ceremony: Mariahilferkirche, Mariahilfer Strasse, Vienna, Austria | Photograph: Wikimedia / Bwag

But the interior, where Jesse describes the minimalist Quaker wedding ceremony, is a different church altogether. This is the Baroque Mariahilferkirche (Church of Mariahilf), Mariahilfer Strasse at Barnabitengasse (U: Neubaugasse, Line U3). It's just west of the vinyl record store.


Bouncing back northeast to the Donaukanal (Danube Canal), the street poet (Dominik Castell) rises to the challenge of conjuring up an ode to include the word “milkshake”.

This steps down to the canal can be found on the east side of the canal, just east of Augartenbrucke (Augarten Bridge) (U: Schottenring, Lines U2 and U4).

Before Sunrise location: Donaukanal, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the steps where Celine and Jesse meet the street poet: Donaukanal, Vienna, Austria

It's alongside the rear of the upscale Otto Wagner Schützenhaus restaurant, Obere Donaustraße 26, with its unmistakable studded walls, that the itinerant scribbler reads his lines to Celine and the inevitably unimpressed Jesse.

Before Sunrise location: Otto Wagner Schützenhaus, Donaukanal, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the street poet reads his work: Otto Wagner Schützenhaus, Donaukanal, Vienna, Austria

Barely breaking a sweat, Jesse and Celine stumble casually across the graffiti-emblazoned bluesy club, in which they finally get to ask about significant others, over a game of pinball.

Before Sunrise location: Arena, Baumgasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: pinball at the alternative nightclub: Arena, Baumgasse, Vienna, Austria

Lucky choice – this is Vienna’s major alternative arts complex – but it’s a couple of miles to the southeast (U: Erdberg, Line U3).

Before Sunrise location: Arena, Baumgasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the arts complex: Arena, Baumgasse, Vienna, Austria

Established over 30 years ago, and housed in a former slaughterhouse, Arena, Baumgasse 80, is comprised of four event halls and, in summer, an outdoor cinema and performance stage.

Before Sunrise location: Arena, Baumgasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the Arena's bar: Arena, Baumgasse, Vienna, Austria

Returning to the Innere Stadt, the meandering conversation turns to the sex lives of monkeys as Jesse and Celine climb the steps from Schottengasse up to Mölker Bastei (Moelker Bastion), a remnant of the Renaissance city walls (U: Schottentor, Line U2).

Before Sunrise location: Mölker Bastei, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the conversation turns to the differences between men and women: the steps up to Mölker Bastei, Vienna, Austria

Pondering the differences between men and women, they stroll along the narrow passage of Mölker Steig, toward Schreyvogelgasse, and another tip of the hat to Orson Welles slips by unnoticed.

Before Sunrise location: Mölker Bastei, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: deep in conversation: Mölker Steig, Vienna, Austria

As the couple turn the zigzags of Mölker Steig and head down toward Schreyvogelgasse they pass in front of the famous doorway at 8 Schreyvogelgasse, where Harry Lime makes his dramatic first appearance, the cat playing with his shoelaces, in The Third Man.

Before Sunrise location: Mölker Bastei, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the conversation turns to the differences between men and women: Mölker Bastei, Vienna, Austria

Passing the doorway and walk down to Schreyvogelgasse proper. This picturesque spot is also the site of the carriage ride to Freud's house in David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method.

Before Sunrise location: Spittelberggasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Celine and Jesse find themselves on Spittelberggasse, Vienna, Austria

They find themselves way to the south, on Spittelberggasse between Burggasse and Siebensterngasse, back in the Museum District (U: Volkstheater, Lines U2 and U3).

Before Sunrise location: Spittelberggasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Celine and Jesse watch the birth dance: Spittelberggasse, Vienna, Austria

It's at the steps leading into Spittelberg Passage that they come across the performance which Celine recognises, from a documentary, as a birth dance.

Before Sunrise location: Spittelberggasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Celine and Jesse discuss the birth dance: Spittelberg Passage, Vienna, Austria

Celine explains the significance of the ritual as they turn on to Spittelberg Passage itself and into Gutenberggasse.

Before Sunrise location: Spittelberggasse, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Celine and Jesse discuss life's choices: alley of Gutenberggasse, Vienna, Austria

It's in the little alleyway between Gutenberggasse and Kirchberggasse that they sit down on a pile of pallets beside the large wooden spindle and delve into the profundities of relationships and life choices.

Before Sunrise location: Cafe Sperl, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the 'phone game': Café Sperl, Vienna, Austria

For the fourth – or is it fifth? – coffee of the night, head back, south of Maria Theresien Platz, to Café Sperl, Gumpendorfer Straße 11 at Königsklostergasse (U: Museumsquartier, Line U2).

Before Sunrise location: Cafe Sperl, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the 'phone game': Café Sperl, Vienna, Austria

The confessional telephone game has the feel of an actors’ impro exercise, but this is the chance to relax and enjoy one of the the city’s famous fin-de-siècle koffeehauses, opened in 1880, with its polished wood and gleaming mirrors. Café Sperl is another location which turns up in period drama A Dangerous Method.

Another slightly icky scene, as the pair agree never to meet again and get their goodbyes over with, is set in Club Schiff on board the ship Johann Strauss, which was then berthed at the Donaukanal near Schwedenplatz). They contemplate everything in life being transitory and, sure enough, the boat has since moved on.

Before Sunrise filming location: Roxy Club, Operngaße, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse blags a bottle of wine from a romantic bartender: Roxy Club, Operngaße, Vienna, Austria

They seem to be doing quite well for a couple who can’t afford a hotel, but the money is finally running out. While Celine lifts a couple of glasses, Jesse blags a bottle of wine from a romantic bartender at the Roxy, Operngasse 24, (U: Karlsplatz, Line U2). I suspect you may not be so lucky, and resign yourself to paying for your drinks.

Before Sunrise filming location: Preßgaße, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse and Celine hear a harpsichord being played: Preßgaße, Vienna, Austria

After spending the rest of the night in the park, morning finds the pair only a few blocks south of the Roxy, at the southern end of Preßgasse, where they hear a harpsichord being played in the basement. You can see the two decorative cellar windows with their elaborate gratings.

Before Sunrise filming location: Preßgaße, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: the basement where Jesse and Celine hear a harpsichord being played: Preßgaße, Vienna, Austria

With the night drawing to a close, Jesse recites part of WH Auden's As I Walked Out One Evening – "O let not Time deceive you, You cannot conquer Time" – on the balcony of the Albertina Palais Museum, Augustinerstraße 1, at the foot of the equestrian statue of Emperor Franz Joseph I.

Before Sunrise filming location: Albertina Palais Museum, Augustinerstraße, Vienna, Austria
Before Sunrise location: Jesse recites WH Auden on the balcony: Albertina Palais Museum, Augustinerstraße, Vienna, Austria

And with the sun having risen, it’s back to Westbahnhof with a promise to meet up again in six months – although as it turned out there was a nine year wait for the follow-up film, Before Sunset.