petting fish at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria

Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna

The shape of the building that houses Haus des Meeres (House of the Sea) in Vienna, Austria, looks like an odd choice for an aquarium and a zoo – a rectangular box of concrete with a tent-like green house on one side, no windows on the other three sides, and circular platforms sticking out on all sides from the roof deck.

Haus des Meeres from the outside
Haus des Meeres from the outside

That’s because the building was repurposed – it was originally an anti-aircraft and gun tower during WWII, with a radar that could be lowered into the concrete tower and protected. The round platforms on all four sides on the roof deck was where the aircraft guns stood.

The idea of turning the building into an aquarium came about in the 1960s, and now the top deck offers great views of Vienna and the surrounding hills, and the 4,000 square meters, or 43,000 square feet of floor space inside house aquaria, terraria, and an aviary.

floor plan of Haus des Meeres
floor plan of Haus des Meeres

If you do visit this place, I would suggest you do what we did – take the elevator all the way to the top, take some photos on the terrace, then work your way down.

view from one side of the Haus des Meeres
view from one side of the Haus des Meeres
What can you see at Haus des Meeres in Vienna?

In Hammerhead Shark Tank you’ll see not only hammerhead sharks (which are rather difficult to photograph, because they swim so fast), but also other fish.

Hammerhead Shark Tank at Haus des Meeres
Hammerhead Shark Tank at Haus des Meeres
Puffer Fish at the Hammerhead Shark Tank
Puffer Fish at the Hammerhead Shark Tank
the best photo of one of the hammerhead sharks that I managed to take, they are very fast
the best photo of one of the hammerhead sharks that I managed to take, they are very fast

 

A two-story shark aquarium and other salt water tanks, big and large, house fish, crustaceans, and other interesting sea creatures:

Blacktip reef shark
Blacktip reef shark
Japanese spider crab at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria
Japanese spider crab
brittle stars at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria
brittle stars

 

At the tropical aviary you can see tamarins, free flying birds, and bats:

my son taking photos of birds in the aviary
my son taking photos of birds in the aviary
birds in the aviary at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria
birds in the aviary
the only photo of a bird at the aviary in Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria we managed to get reasonably close
the only photo of a bird we managed to get reasonably close
tamarins in the aviary at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria are not afraid of people
tamarins in the aviary are not afraid of people

 

Haus des Meeres also has several reptiles and amphibians:

my son taking a photo of a snake coiled up on a tree at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria
my son taking a photo of a snake coiled up on a tree
albino python at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria
albino python

 

Do pay attention to tubes running down the walls – those are part of the leaf cutter ant habitat and the tubes stretch across a couple of floors:

leafcutter ands traveling through a tube at Haus des Meeres in Vienna, Austria
leafcutter ands traveling through a tube

 

The photos above are just a shapshot of what you can see at Haus des Meeres. There are also tarantulas, sea horses, and many other interesting animals. It’s hard to photograph them all!

I know some people believe the animals should not be kept in captivity, but the aquarium had many displays throughout teaching about the ecosystems of the animals on exhibit.

As one of displays at the entrance said:

“Key functions of a modern zoo are to inform the public about the threats facing individual species or entire ecosystems as well as to breed endangered animals. These efforts are promoted with the help of international captive breeding projects, which involve cooperative efforts by zoos from across Europe. The Haus des Meeres, for example, keeps two studbooks – o blue-spotted stingrays and goodeids – and participates in projects involving seahorses, cotton-top tamarins, giant girdled lizards, Malaysian giant turtles, and Asian giant tortoises.”

How did the kids like Haus des Meeres?

Since both kids like animals, I wasn’t surprised both of them gave Haus des Meeres thumbs up. What did surprise me was the fact that my thirteen-year-old enjoyed petting the fish so much (and for so long). He said they were scaly, but not slimy. (You can see the photo of the kids petting the fish in the featured photo at the beginning of the post.)

Information for Visitors
Hours

The zoo part of Haus des Meeres is open 9am to 6pm, but last entrance is 30 minutes before closure time, so be there by 5:30pm at the latest. Mind you, half an hour will not be enough to see this place properly. Best put aside at least two to three hours.

Tickets

Adult tickets are €15.80, and that’s comparable with other aquariums this size we’ve seen. Haus des Meeres – Aqua Terra Zoo is a non-profit organization and their activities come entirely from entry fees and profits from the cafe and shop.

Location

Haus des Meeres is located at Fritz-Grünbaum-Platz 1, close to the orange U3 U-bahn (subway) station “Neubaugasse.” The green U-4 Kettenbrückengasse stop is not too far either.

We want to thank the Vienna Tourist Board and Haus des Meeres for hosting our family at this fascinating place. While we received free tickets, we did not receive additional compensation and the text, format, and opinions are our own, as always. 

Where to Stay in Vienna

When we visited Vienna, we stayed at a vacation rental, because that’s what we like to do (review coming soon). All in all, there are plenty of rentals, hotels, hostels, and B&Bs in Vienna to choose from. Take your pick!

Invitation to #WeekendWanderlust Link Up

#WeekendWanderlust, hosted by Chris & Heather from A Brit and a Southerner, Jessi & Tara from Outbound Adventurer, Ashley from A Southern Gypsy, Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren, and yours truly, is a collaborative effort to share travel blog posts, and to discuss all travel-related things.

The hosts organize each week a link up through which travel bloggers from around the world can promote their posts, in exchange for a promise to give some attention to other travel bloggers. (One of the rules for linking up is to comment on three linked up posts.)

If the link up is still open, feel free to add a link to one of your posts below, then comment on at least three other linked up posts.

If you leave a comment on this post, I will reciprocate with a comment as soon as I can!

#WeekendWanderlust link up logo
#WeekendWanderlust link up logo


21 thoughts on “Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna”

    1. Thank you for reading, Sarah! My family likes to go to zoos and aquariums, so I always check out if there is one in the city we’re visiting. Vienna is great, and yes, it’s lovely to just walk around, but Haus des Meeres is definitely worth visiting as well.

    1. Thank you for reading, Ashley and Alex. That building surprised me as well, but I’m glad they repurposed at least one of the FLAK towers they have there in Vienna.

    1. Thank you for reading, Paula! It’s a fun place, that we would have overlooked were it not for the fact that my kids, especially daughter, likes aquariums.

  1. I’ve been to Vienna several times and to me, it’s a city of cafes and culture. I had no idea they had a fun kid’s activity like this. I’m definitely going to suss this out the next time we visit (who knows when), but I think it’s good to have something to look forward to when you go back to a familiar city.
    Jody Robbins recently posted…Lazy camping at Banff equipped campsitesMy Profile

    1. Thank you for reading, Mary! I hope you’ll get to see this place some day. It’s interesting both inside and from the rooftop.

  2. What an interesting place!
    When I was in Vienna, I attempted to find one of these flak-towers. I must have passed by it, but had little time, so I didn’t return.
    Your depiction of this one is amazing…

    1. Thank you for reading, Escape Hunter! We’ve seen two of the flak towers while in Vienna. One is abandoned, but can’t be demolished because it was so solidly built. I’m glad at least this one was adapted to something else.

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