Monday, August 13, 2012

Old Austrian Interiors

Salzburg Open Air Museum, Austria.  Some of the homes in the museum date to the 1500s and getting a peek into the interiors is a real treat.  Often barns were connected to the homes with animals, feed and equipment within easy access to the living quarters.

A number of rooms had built-in seating along the walls—a practical idea for large families.

When we first moved to Europe we had to get used to the custom of using duvets, generally thick feather, cotton or polyester filled quilts enveloped in an easily removable—and washable—cover.  While no top sheets or other bedspreads are needed with a duvet, it took some time to get used to beds looking so different from what we were accustomed to.  From the museum's bedrooms, it appears duvets have been used for quite a long time.  I've learned to love them for their practicality and comfort.  Clean, lightweight and soft they are like sleeping under a cloud.  The only drawback it seems are that they trap body heat really well and can be a bit too warm for summer.  Still, it's easy to imagine how they would have been very welcome centuries ago during cold winter nights.

The painted furniture on display in some of the rooms are still lovely.


  1. Interesting museum. The farm and agriculture parts look similar to the living history farms in the U.S. The housing is fascinating. Always interesting to see how people lived and the objects they were surrounded by.

    1. Yes, these museums offer an interesting--and more relevant--glimpse into life hundreds of years ago. Castles and palaces are fun to see but I'm amazed that "ordinary" women could work so hard all day cleaning, cooking, washing, churning butter, caring for children, etc. (and that's just the short list) and still find energy in the evening to sew or embroider.

    2. Farm women had prodigious amount of work to accomplish, but they had help from servants and children. This was true in Europe and in Puritan America. Life was never easy for these people. That is one reason migration to cities, as bad as they were, became so common in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

    3. I sometimes try to imagine what life was like in Vienna 200-300 years ago and it's easy to get this romantic, movie-esque image but then I walk by the couple of areas where the fiakers (horse-drawn carriages) stand and the stench of horse urine alone from just a dozen or so horses slaps me back into reality. What the cities smelled like before the Industrial Revolution must have been awful. And during the plague—don't even want to try to think about it. Women, whether they had help or not, wore long dresses that would no doubt soak up lots of filth and be difficult to clean. And those who lived in the country, sharing their home with the barn...and the barn was cleaned out once a year, in the spring. Oh, eeeuw. Don't think I'd want to trade my life for theirs but wish I knew more about day-to-day living like they did....