Before Sunrise, 1995


Richard Linklater


visit the film locations

Vienna: Flights: Vienna International Airport

Café Sperl, Gumpendorfer Straße 11 , A-1060 Vienna (tel: 0043.1.5864158) (Museumsquartier, U2)

Arena, Baumgasse 80, A-1030 Vienna (tel: 0043.1.7988595) (Erdberg, U3)

Roxy, Operngasse 24, Vienna 1040 (Karlsplatz, U2)


If you’ve not already seen it, check out the following film, Before Sunset

For more of Vienna onscreen, see The Third Man and 1987 Bond movie, The Living Daylights.

Before Sunrise location: Cafe Sperl, Vienna, Austria

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

Photograph: Café Sperl

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.

The starting point for their Viennese night is the city’s Wien Westbahnhof rail station on Europaplatz, at Mariahilfer Straße and the Gürtel ring road, but if the quasi-documentary style suggests you can follow in their footsteps easily around the city, you’ll very quickly get lost.

For instance, you might assume the first stop – the green-girdered, wooden footbridge, on which the pair bumps into the two guys staging a play about a delusional cow, is alongside the railway station (given the shot of rail lines). In fact, the Zollamtssteg Bridge crosses the tributary River Wien, just south of its junction with the Danube, above the diagonal rail bridge linking Schallautzerstraße with Vorderer Zollamsstraße, near Julius Raab Platz, a couple of miles northeast of Westbahnhof.

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. It’s a bit odd that this is when they choose to take the tram – though they do take a picturesque route past the twin spires of the Votivkirche (Votive Church), Rooseveltplatz 8 (which is some way to the north).

The record shop itself is Teuchtler Schallplattenhandlung, Windmühlgasse 10, 1060 Vienna. In business since 1948, 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 location: Maria Theresien platz, Vienna, Austria

Before Sunrise location: Maria Theresien platz, Vienna, Austria

Photograph: iStockphoto / Paul Gert

The scene segues into their stroll through the elegant square of Maria Theresien platz, back northeast, between the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts). The imposing throned figure surrounded by equestrian statues is the Empress Maria-Theresa herself.

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. You can take the U-bahn U3 line to Simmering to visit the poignant ‘Cemetery of the Nameless’, Friedhof der Namenlosen, Alberner Straße 54, in which bodies retrieved from the Danube were buried. It’s in the southeastern suburbs, at the Alberner Hafendocks in the 11th district (Simmering, U3).

Before Sunrise location: Riesenrad, Prater, Vienna, Austria

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

It’s back in the city, as sunset finds the couple riding the Riesenrad, the giant ferris wheel at the western end of Prater park (Praterstern, U1 or U2), and enjoying their first kiss. This is the first nod to Orson Welles, the location for his ‘cuckoo clock’ speech in The Third Man (Linklater has, of course, since gone on to direct Me And Orson Welles).

After a stroll through the funfair, it’s west again to the little square of Franziskanerplatz in the old city (Stephansplatz, U1 or U3). At a table outside the Kleines Café, Franziskanerplatz 3, Celine gets her palm read, 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 a disgruntled husband on the train.

A few blocks north, in the 15th century Gothic church of Maria am Gestade, Salvatorgasse 12, Jesse describes the minimalist Quaker wedding ceremony.

And further north still, alongside the Donaukanal (Danube Canal) near Schwedenplatz, the street poet rises to the challenge of conjuring up an ode to include the word “milkshake”.

Jesse and Celine seem to stumble casually across the graffiti-emblazoned bluesy club, in which they finally get to ask about significant others, over a game of pinball. Good choice – this is Vienna’s major alternative arts complex – but it’s way back to the southeast (Erdberg, U3). 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.

Returning to the Innere Stadt, the meandering conversation turns to the differences between men and women as Jesse and Celine stroll on Mölker Bastei (Moelker Bastion), a remnant of the Renaissance city walls. There’s a second nod to The Third Man and Orson Welles, as the couple turn into Schreyvogelgasse and – if you look carefully – pass in front of the famous doorway at 8 Schreyvogelgasse, where Harry Lime made his dramatic first appearance.

Before Sunrise location: Cafe Sperl, Vienna, Austria

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

Photograph: Café Sperl

For the fourth – or is it fifth? – coffee of the night, head back, south of Maria Theresien platz, to Café Sperl, Gumpendorfer Straße 11. 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, with its polished wood and gleaming mirrors (Museumsquartier, U2).

Another slightly icky scene, as the pair agree never to meet again and get their goodbyes over with, is set on board the ship Johann Strauss, permanently berthed at the Donaukanal near Schwedenplatz).

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, Vienna 1040 (Karlsplatz, U2). I suspect you may not be so lucky, and resign yourself to paying for your drinks.

Before Sunrise location: Albertina, Vienna, Austria

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

Photograph: iStockphoto / tupungato

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.

With time running out on the romance, Jesse recites WH Auden on the balcony of the Albertina Palais Museum, Augustinerstraße 1, at the foot of the equestrian statue.

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.

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