Following in the footsteps of the Third Man

A game of hide and seek

The film classic "The Third Man" was shot in 1948 in Vienna. Today, visitors can follow in Harry Lime’s footsteps.

American author Holly Martins travels to post-war Vienna to take up a job offer from his friend Harry Lime (played by Orson Welles), but then becomes increasingly embroiled in criminal activities. When Anton Karas' famous theme tune plays on the zither, it's clear that something unexpected is about to happen. The excitement reaches its peak in the final chase through the Viennese sewers, seven metres underground.
As Harry Lime in “The Third Man”, Orson Welles struck fear in Vienna’s underworld and conquered the post-war silver screen
George Orson Welles was an American film director, actor and author. He is considered one of the most influential directors in cinematic history.
The scenes in the Vienna underworld became world famous and "The Third Man" is considered the showpiece of Viennese film history. Fans of the film can therefore take a look at this mythic city beneath the city and follow in the footsteps of Harry Lime, the famous penicillin smuggler. The “Third Man Tour” leads you through the deep lying tunnels where Harry Lime played hide and seek in 1948 Vienna. Afterwards, you can also visit the places where the film’s most important scenes were shot at your own leisure. And ‘action’!
It is February 1947. In the ruins of Vienna, squalor and black market racketeering are rife. American author Holly Martins comes to the city to meet his childhood friend Harry Lime. When he learns that Lime recently died in a road accident, he becomes suspicious and starts digging into Lime's past. Harry Lime was one of the most dangerous penicillin pushers in Vienna. His death: faked. When he eventually resurfaces, it is not long before he is cornered after a wild chase through the Viennese underworld, where he suffers a fatal gunshot wound. The world-famous "Harry Lime Theme" by Viennese composer Anton Karas held the number one spot in the US charts for 11 weeks!
A horde of police officers pursues the penicillin smuggler Harry Lime through Vienna's sewers before he is cornered and shot.
Following in the footsteps of the Third Man in Vienna
Stop 1: The Burg Kino cinema
To get you in the mood for the sightseeing tour, it’s only right to take a trip to the Burg Kino on the Opernring. "The Third Man" is shown here every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.
© Olga Kretsch (2018)
The Burg Kino in Vienna is one of the oldest cinemas in the world. Silent films were shown there when it opened in 1912.
Stop 2: Central cemetery
Next up is the filming location that opens and closes the film: the Vienna Central Cemetery in Simmering. This cemetery complex, the second largest in Europe, is a place of peace and contemplation, but is also a little eerie on dreary days.
The plot of the "Third Man" begins and ends at the Vienna Central Cemetery. One of the film’s first scenes is the supposed funeral of Harry Lime, who is presumed dead. He is finally laid to rest for real in the closing scene.
Stop 3: Prater
In stark contrast, the long-established Prater amusement park is brimming with life. Not only is the Riesenrad Ferris wheel the backdrop to one of the film’s most important scenes, but the carriages also offer a unique view overlooking Vienna.
The Riesenrad in Vienna’s Prater is where the showdown between Martins and the fugitive Harry Lime takes place during the film’s climax.
Stop 4: "Third Man Tour" through the sewers
The original staircase from the film leads down to one of the oldest parts of Vienna's sewer system. The so-called cholera canals were built in the 1830s and have remained virtually unchanged since their installation. Using state-of-the-art projection and lighting techniques, you can immerse yourself in the world of sewer workers, smugglers and spies.
In the film, Harry Lime flees into the extensive sewer system, passing under all five sectors of Vienna, with a large police squad in hot pursuit.
A unique "subterranean view" of the Danube can be taken up at the end of the tour. The river disappears under the Naschmarkt in a vast vault, the size of which is showcased impressively through the use of floodlights.
Stop 5: Museum
There’s just one last (and completely different) stop on our tour of all things related to this classic film; a visit to the Third Man Museum. Among countless props from the film, a variety of photos and objects from the post-war era can be viewed, as well as the original zither, on which Anton Karas composed and recorded the film score in London.

If you decide to follow in the footsteps of the “Third Man” and also dare to enter the Viennese underworld, then slip-resistant footwear is definitely recommended. In these cleated sole Högl bootees, not only will you make it through the sewer tour with steady footing, but you’ll also make a sparkling and stylish entrance at the museum and Burg Kino. And if the tour sends a shiver down your spine, you’ll be grateful for the cosy warmth of Högl’s lined winter ankle boots.
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