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In the episode "Vienna Waits" of the American sitcom Taxi (1978–1983), two of the characters go on a tour of Europe, visiting London, a Greek village, and Vienna. The establishing shots of London and Greece seem familiar enough, but at least two of the three shots used for Vienna are definitely not Vienna. Still, they look pretty nice and so I wouldn't mind visiting them if I knew where they were!

First, we have a shot of some steep, rocky, forested cliff, dotted with medieval-looking buildings. In the background we see a dense old city on an island. Vienna does have a long island, but no such steep cliffs.

A shot of some steep, rocky, forested cliff, dotted with medieval-looking buildings.  In the background we see a dense old city on an island.

Next we have a shot of a river lined with trees. There are hills on one side of the river, and a steep tower in the background. In the foreground is a train on a viaduct. Again, Vienna does not have such large hills beside the river.

A shot of a river lined with trees.  There are hills on one side of the river, and a steep tower in the background.  In the foreground is a train on a viaduct.

Finally, there's a night scene than pans from left to right. It's too dark to make out any details except for a few lights and neon signs on what are presumably modern buildings, and a steeple in the background. This one might plausibly be Vienna, possibly somewhere near Schwedenplatz on the Donaukanal, but it's hard to tell.

A night scene with shadowy modern buildings with neon lights.A night scene with shadowy modern buildings with neon lights, and a shadowy steeple in the background.

Where are these establishing shots from, if not Vienna?

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    As a resident of Vienna, I agree with your conclusions that the first two are definitely not Vienna and the last two do look like they could be the Donaukanal near Schwedenplatz (in a different era, of course; I am too young to remember what that area may have looked like in the 1970s or 1980s).
    – wonderbear
    Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 11:11
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    Not an island, but Passau, the city of three rivers! Definitely worth a visit if you are not an ocean away.
    – wimi
    Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 17:44
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    The third photo's location is potentially in Switzerland. Chocolat Tobler (chocolatier), Blick (newspaper), and Mido (watches) are all Swiss brands. The first two photos are not in Switzerland.
    – Thomas
    Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 21:22
  • Yeah, the third one is definitely Switzerland. Too dark for me to tell where exactly, could be Zurich, could be somewhere else...
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 7:06
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    I can confirm Passau for #1 and Landshut for #2. Both locations of photography still exist today but tall trees and dense bushes make taking pictures from the same perspective quite hard today.
    – Andreas
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 13:42

2 Answers 2

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  1. Passau, Germany

An aerial photo

enter image description here

  1. Landshut, Germany: Thanks to Google Images search

The church and castle are distinctive enough for identification.

See for example, the painting here: enter image description here

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    I think that you can copy and paste the images here since their license allow it, and you cited the sources, which is fair. Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 21:36
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    An interesting cinematic question is why the director would go to three different German towns to take "Vienna-like" shots, rather than actually going to Vienna? Or do sitcoms use some sort of "stock video" for these shots, and this is what was available?
    – xLeitix
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 7:10
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    @xLeitix Most likely they would have used whatever stock footage they already had. Sitcoms are generally pretty cheap. Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 7:54
  • Judging from the images, as we can see a stream locomotive in Landshut and older cars and streets in Passau, this was likely taken even before WW2 or in the 50s at the latest.
    – 8192K
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 9:53
  • @Sebastian I had a boss who previously worked in the railways (in Australia) and was training on steam engines in the late 1960's, early 1970's. There are similar dates for European usage. See Retirement of steam locomotives by country
    – Peter M
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 13:04
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Image 4 possibly depicts Limmat, Limmatquai and the slender tower of Predigerkirche in Zurich, Switzerland from the other side of the Limmat (i.e., Bahnhofquai close to/on Mühlesteg), in a perspective lightly upstream to lake Zurich. From a slightly different angle and more elevated position (upstream, closer to Rudolf-Brun Brücke [not yet Lindenhof]; lake Zurich would be again on the right hand side):

enter image description here

(source).

The tower of square cross section in the back belongs to the main building of today's university. This equally can relate to image 3 where (next to «ck» of «Blick») you see a cupola which could be the centre of Semper's main building of the poly/ETHZ (both buildings on Rämistrasse are just across a smaller street). The photo by depositphotos depicts a small portion of ETH polyterrasse (background left) skipping the characteristic reading room of the library.

Overseeing Rämistrasse (i.e., a different perspective toward lake Zurich to the left, Limmat is invisible because it is both behind the buildings and much downhill):

enter image description here

(source, Rämistrasse with ETH building (front) and UNIZH (back))

It is difficult to localize image 3 because it is an overlay of an earlier scene (at day) fading out, and the new one scene recorded at dawn. You typically have to stay on the left bank of the Limmat to see the ETH cupola this complete:

enter image description here

(source, tram stop next to the main station's exit, flank with the Escher memorial)

But by leaving Zurich HB via Bahnhofplatz, one is just opposite of Bahnhofstrasse; this could explain some of the street lights and signage at time of the movie.

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