While Vienna’s historic cemeteries are home to the likes of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Strauss, a small graveyard in the Simmering district arguably remains the Austrian capital’s most touching burial ground. The Friedhof Der Namenlosen, or Cemetery of the Nameless, with its simple black metal crosses, is the final resting place of 104 unknown people, most of whom drowned in the River Danube and washed ashore nearby.
Little known before it featured in the independent film Before Sunrise, the Cemetery of the Nameless provided a sad, lonely and romantic backdrop through which the characters wandered. Hidden out of sight behind a collection of grain warehouses that make it all the more mysterious, the tranquil graveyard has become an unofficial place of pilgrimage for film fans.
Amid long grass and subdued flowers, the graves are marked poignantly with “namelos” (nameless), while trees encircle the peaceful setting. Over the years, 42 of those buried here have been identified, while the rest remain unknown. Improvements have ensured that bodies no longer wash up along this stretch of river, and the last burial took place in 1940. Today, local fishermen traditionally set adrift a raft decorated with flowers and a commemorative inscription to the victims of the Danube, symbolising their final journey.