"Smashed to Pieces... in the Still of the Night"
In general there are not many things that would remind you that Vienna played a role in WW2. A lot of the old buildings in the city actually predate both wars, and sometimes you wonder how they could make it through those times unscathed. It almost seems like the city got off easy, left aside and forgotten while Dresden or Berlin would get the bulk of the bombshells. But appearances can be deceiving - Vienna was part of the Nazi empire, and as such it was almost bombed to the ground.
The vast majority of the city was destroyed, and the only reason you wouldn't notice is due to huge restoration works, made possible through efficiency and resilience, traits very common to the Germanic peoples. And yet there are few things that couldn't be destroyed by the relentless bombing of the allies, the most prominent ones still standing to this day. Like the sharp teeth of a beast long passed, they are protruding from the silhouette of the city: The 4 flak towers of Vienna.
In 1958, one of the two towers in the Esterhazy park, in close proximity to the busy shopping street of Mariahilf, found a new purpose - it was converted into Vienna's biggest aquarium. It's almost 4 meters thick concrete walls were the perfect foundation to support water tanks on a large scale.
Today it houses over ten thousand aquatic beings, spread out over 9 storeys and 4000 square meters. Marine life is not the only thing harbored in this once grim building. It's also home to a variety of reptiles and insects, as well as some small mammals like monkeys and bats, which are mostly allowed to roam free (and maybe even come in contact with you).
One of the highlights is definitely the rooftop of the tower, which has been converted into an open air cafe with great views over the inner district. You can get all kinds of beverages and snacks here, and the prices aren't bad either. Should you feel sporty, the outer wall of the tower has been converted into a rock climbing wall, allowing people to conquer a 40 meter outdoor climb in the middle of the city. But be warned, I've been up there and it's not for the faint of heart.