End of 2022, I was interviewed by Eurocities to present my very personal vision of an urban Europe, that was great fun!
What landmark in Vienna do you think everyone should visit?
Everyone has her own little hood, and mine is the second district of Vienna called “Leopoldstadt”. This is where I went to school and where I still live when I am in Vienna. What I love about it is that it is a very mixed neighbourhood with a rich history, and not always an easy one. It was home to a huge community of Jews before the Holocaust therefore called “Mazzes Insel” in Yiddish or „Matzo Island“ in English (from matzo, the Jewish tradition’s unleavened bread). Today, walking in the streets will show you a lot of that loss as you will see memorial signs everywhere. In fact, „Mazzes Insel” is an island between the canal and the river Danube. It has lot of green areas and parks, the biggest being the “Green Prater”, lovely squares and markets, schools, a big university campus, theatres, concert halls, nice pubs along the canal and restaurants with a great variety of flavours. It is home to many of my family and friends. To see Vienna from above, I always recommend people to take a ride on our “Giant Ferris Wheel”, which will give you a great view of the city. In the summer, I invite people to bring their swimsuits, as they can take the metro directly to one of our free-swimming spots along the 20km-long Danube island or the “Old Danube”.
If you did not live in Vienna/Brussels, in which other Eurocities member city would you in and why?
It’s impossible to choose! No way! What I would do is travel places to explore the female side of city life. This is something I love to do as I am convinced that making women visible will allow us to have a more holistic picture of urban policy. Smart, fair and social cities must by definition be feminist cities; and spreading that word is one of the most rewarding things – just imagine “if women mayors ruled the world”!
What do you think that being a Eurocities member brought to Vienna?
Eurocities is more than connecting projects and organising exchanges, it is a family of urban friends, and by joining this family, we saw the collective power of cities shaping EU policies. Just think of the urban agenda for the EU and all the partnerships with their rich policy recommendations, to which so many of our cities contributed! Our policy statements and positions are not only valid on EU level; we have seen that they also enrich our debates and work at home.