Between the of the splendour of Vienna's State Opera House and the high culture of its Albertina Museum sits a building that offers an entirely different experience to one you’ll find anywhere in the rest of the city. It’s oddly peaceful and bathed in natural light, with a constant temperature of around 26 degrees Celsius, even in the middle of winter. Oh, and it's a giant greenhouse.
An opportunity to step into a rainforest in the middle of the city, the Schmetterlinghaus - quite literally The Butterfly House - is home to around 400 free-flying exotic butterflies, from around 40 different species. Colourful, and coming in all shapes and sizes, they happily flutter around like a dancing rainbow, diving in an out of the greenery and hovering next to the waterfalls, oblivious to the humans around them.
Visitors can walk between the trees, or just stand and watch as they play around; be warned, if you stay still for too long then you shouldn't be surprised if one lands on your arm, or even your head. Let’s be honest though, of all of the animals to get dive-bombed by, you could do much worse than a butterfly.
Butterflies with red markings: This means they may be poisonous to eat. Fear not though, because aside from the fact that you hopefully won’t be doing that anyway, they’re only dangerous to birds and other small animals.
Torn wings: Just like humans get wrinkles as they get older as a result of wear and tear, a butterfly's wings will weaken over time. Incredibly, they can fly with up to 35% of their wings missing!
The Atlas butterfly: The biggest butterfly in the house, it can have a wingspan of up to 30cm.
Pupae: This is the next generation of butterflies, just waiting to hatch. Generally, they’re bred elsewhere by recognised farmers and then introduced to Schmetterlinghaus.
The floor: Watch where you put your feet - sometimes they like to take a rest on the ground.
Along with all the butterflies there is also a wide range of tropical flora and fauna on display, all of which have been chosen specially to support the plant life, including purple heliotrope, vibrant pink hibiscus, palm trees and banana plants. There are also some artificial flowers coated in honey, to act as feeding points for the butterflies - choose to ignore them, as they'll only spoil the mood.
Architecture fans will love the building itself; opened in 1901, it is considered one of the finest examples of an art nouveau palm house anywhere in the world. Once the private greenhouse of Emperor Franz I, then leader of the mighty Austro-Hungarian empire (and a keen gardener), its domed structure now plays host to numerous weddings every year.
The butterfly house is designed to replicate a tropical environment, which means that it’s hot and humid, and you are going to sweat a little. Think of it as a sauna, with more wildlife and fewer naked strangers. Take water.
April 1st to October 31st
November 1st to March 31st
Admission - Senior citizens
Admission - Children
Admission - Students
Austria 1010 Wien