I love this place. I have to go back there someday soon! It is actually a massive butchery – you can read the history (in German though) here.
My brief translation:
In 1797 they started digging some canals around the old beef market, and so it had to move from Stubentor to St. Marx. Between 1846 and 1851 they built the first slaugherhouse on the site (Arena). The central cattle market which supported the sale of large horned cattle as well as smaller, already slaughtered animals was built between 1879 and 1884. The entrance to this market in Viehmarktgasse was decorated by the artist Anton Smidgruber (1837-1909), and is an artwork in sand stone showing two bulls. Further in 1910 a slaughterhouse for pigs was built, and in 1916/17 the ‘Auslandsschlachthof’ (which translate roughly into a butchery for importet animals). This Auslandsschlachthof was expanded between 1920 and 1922.
The slaughterhouses were all closed in 1970 due to modernisation and the establishment of the meat market in St. Marx. And, it is at the site of the Auslandsschlacthhof that the current Arena was established, to make use of the buildings that were just standing there.
I was just passing it on my way back from OBI – had to get some home improvement stuff.
I’ve had kind of a crap day… very happy to arrive back home!!