New Use For An Old Tower

Haus des Meeres (House of the Sea) is an World War Two era flak fire control tower that has been converted to use as an aquarium and zoo. This angle shows the tropical house. The rooftop billboard is from an anti-war/fascism art installation and reads “Smashed to Pieces … In the Still of the Night.”

I have written about Germany’s Flak Towers previously and yesterday I wrote about the new role the city of Hamburg is planning for one of their flak towers. In a similar vein, Tad reminded me that the city of Vienna has put one of their flak towers to an unconventional use for over 50 years as an aquarium and zoo.

After the war, the fire control flak tower was initially used as hotel and then was converted to a fire station. Starting in 1957 with just a single floor, volunteers slowly took over the tower, expanding floor by floor removing debris and creating aquariums. Originally, the aquarium shared the tower with the firefighters but they vacated the same year the aquarium finished their sixth floor of exhibits. Now, the Haus des Meeres (House of the Sea) includes ten habitable above-ground floors full of exhibits and an open-air sightseeing roof deck with the space devoted to both terrariums and aquariums. The tenth floor is a special exhibit devoted to World War Two topics and a re-creation of the original flak tower control vault.

The Haus des Meeres website sports a variety of webcams including one from the roof showing the view overlooking Vienna. I encourage you to check them out.

[Image courtesy of Haus des Meeres.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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