For today’s installment in our trip through Glimpses of the World, we’re stopping in Vienna.

The book’s caption for this photo is as interesting a look back into both distant history and late-nineteenth-century history as the photo itself:

“One of the oldest and most interesting streets in Vienna is that which we may now in imagination enter, called the Graben. It derives its name from the fact that this was the ancient Grab, or moat surrounded by the fortified wall, which rose where now are yonder buildings containing some of the most luxurious and expensive retail shops in Vienna. One would hardly expect to find within this busy street the solitary survivor of the famous Wiener Wald, the ancient forest bordering the Danube! Yet at one corner of it is a most extraordinary-looking object, protected partly by the wall of the building, and partly by some bands of iron. It is the famous Stock in Eisen, or the Iron stick. It is well-named, for its appearance is precisely that of an iron club. Investigation, however, proves it to be a mass of wood, literally covered with nails, to some of which coins are attached. One of these has the date of 1575. This ancient tree (which apparently could not crumble now if it should try to) was for some cause, now unknown, esteemed especially sacred; and everyone who drove a nail into its precious wood, received a spiritual shield against the devil. How odd it seems to see this strange reminder of the past, standing thus grimly in the very center of the city’s life! Just as some superstition, like a dread of Friday or thirteen at a table, still exists amid the common sense and science of the nineteenth century.”

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