Vienna – An Introduction to Schönbrunn
One of the must see palaces in Vienna is the Schnöbrunn Palace, which is located in the 13th district, more on that later, and used to be the summer residence for the Imperial family. The scale of the Palace, which houses 1441 rooms and grounds is truly impressive. It was built by Emperor Maximilian II in the mid 16th century. The area surrounding the palace was used as recreational and hunting grounds. In the mid 16th century the palace was redesigned by the court architect Nicolò Pacassi under the orders of Maria Theresa of Austria. Below are some photos of the immediate area of the palace palace itself, on an evening when the Vienna State Orchestra gave a free performance. It was magnificent.
Below is the Gloriette in the garden on the Schönbrunn Palace. Built in 1775 as the last building constructed in the garden. According to its architect, it was built as a “temple of renown” to serve as both a focal point and a lookout point for the garden. While today it houses Café Gloriette, in the past it was used as a dining hall and festival hall as well as a breakfast room for emperor Franz Joseph I.
A view from the courtyard.
BTW, access to the Schonbrunn palace, or any other point of interest in Vienna is fairly easy, with U-Bahn (Subway/tram) stations, and bus service basically to and fro any point in the city. An 8 day (don’t have to be consecutive days) transportation pass, for anywhere in the city, costs approximately $44.00.
Vienna – Central District
The oldest part of Vienna is known as the Central or, 1st District and this is where you’ll find most of the the museums, St. Stephens Cathedral, the Hofburg complex which, whose beginnings date back to the 1,100s and today includes Austria’s State Administrative offices, the Spanish Riding School, the Chapel where the Vienna Boy’s Choir perform, the national library and numerous other official offices and institutions. Then there’s the Rathouse (the major’s office), the and Art and History museums, etc.
While touring the medieval town and its surroundings, renting a self-catering apartment is a good way to stay central and close to the numerous sights and places of interest. To book an apartment online, take a look at the website: Oh-Vienna
The Hofburg is very interesting in that it is not a single building but, rather is comprised of adjoining complexes that were built starting in the 1100s through the mid 1800s and have housed royalty and aristocracy for centuries. Today, it still houses government officials, including the office of the Austrian president.
As impressive as St.Stephens Cathedral with its 300 ft. plus spire and mosaic tiled roof is from the outside , the inside is even more impressive.
Just happened to be walking by the Spanish Riding School, the home of the Lipizzaners in Vienna, when one of the stallions happened to pop it’s head out and send a hello to his cousins in Sarasota at the Hermann Royal Lipizzaner stables.
Warning, the scale of the buildings and the area can be deceiving – the area is considerable and is packed with buildings and gawking tourists, so bring along some good walking shoes. Here you’ll also find souvenir as well as very exclusive shops (hang on to your wallet) restaurants and cafes, where you can rest your feet and watch people walk by.
The number of things to see and explore can be overwhelming, so if you must, do stop at a cafe or restaurant for a break, and yes, you’ll even find Starbucks in the vicinity.
And if something cooler suits our taste, the Ice Salon am Schwedenplatz, hands down, has the smoothest and best ice cream I’ve ever had – no calories of course. Next, how about a Sunday morning with the Vienna Boy’s choir and then…
A Sunday In Vienna
What a way to start a beautiful Sunday morning, listening to the Vienna Boys Choir at their home chapel on the grounds of the Hofburg.
An ideal time to take in some of the major sights in the Central District, no cars and tourists are just beginning to trickle in.
Excavated Roman and pre-roman foundations and construction in central Vienna.
There are so many things to see, including this creation by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who has a number of other projects around Vienna, including the design of the trash incinerator plant. Below is part of Haus Hundertwasser. There’s not a straight line, a level floor or a pattern that’s duplicated.
How about a ride on the Riesen Radt in the Prater amusement park to catch a good panoramic view of Vienna.
It’s easy to see why Vienna is frequently voted as the most livable large city in the world. Aside from the history and architectural gems, the city is surrounded by little villages and vineyards, in most of which you’ll find Heuringens (wine taverns), where they serve great cold cuts, something more substantial, pastries and of course, some great and very reasonably priced local wine. A great way to spend an afternoon, although you may have to appoint a designated driver after a few wines.
OK Hans, on to new places
Burgenland, the Austrian state a short distance east of Vienna is a major wine growing region, Joseph Haydn’s home and also a recreational attraction with its Neusiedlee, a large shallow lake. The area is also dotted with small villages amongst the vineyards. Note the stork nests on top of the chimney – storks.
And of course where there are vineyards and villages, you’ll find Heuringens, which are local wine bars that serve the local wine plus cold cuts, pastries and home cooked goodies – yummmmm. Very similar to Pubs in England, except that the Heuringens are set in the wine growing areas around Vienna and most of the seating is in small courtyards – very quaint. Note the bundle of fir branches hanging above the entrance, this indicates that wine is being served.
Yup, that’s me
Burgenland, especially around Eisentadt, where Haydn was born, lived and buried, is an area rich in musical tradition. We had the opportunity to attend a small private concert in Haydn’s birth-home played on a restored Fortepiano, over 250 years old, claimed to have been used by Haydn himself.
Coutyard of Haydn’s birth home. Note the thatched roof.
And now back to the storks. Here’s a mama stork rearing the next generation of baby delivering storks.
Next, on to the Wacau and the Danube, or “Donau”, as it’s locally called.
Danube and the Wachau Valley
The Wachau valley, on the Donau (Danube) is a major wine growing area that sits between the towns of Melk and Krems. It is a lush valley with many vineyards, which are much different from Burgenland or around Vienna, as they sit on steep slopes and are terraced.
The area also has three Abbeys (Catholic Monasteries). The one in Melk, which we toured, is an Austrian Benedictine Abbey, and one of the world’s most famous monastic sites. Its location above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube in Lower Austria, dominates the area’s landscape. It was founded in 1089 and is still active today, housing about 30 Benedictine Monks and a school, which is open to the public.
The museum inside and library inside the abbey are worth visiting.
The setting surrounding the Abbey, is of a charming village with cobble stone streets, curio shops and sidewalk cafes.
On the Riverboat and down the Danube.
Where little villages, castles and vineyards grace the banks and valley.
Stopped in Durnstein, which has one of the most photographed sites on the Danube, the church with the blue tower, the inside of which is full on baroque style.
Durnstein is a neat little village with little shops, restaurants, narrow cobble streets and a lot of charm.
What a wonderful day and a cruise definitely recommended.
Good bye Donau and Vienna, till the next time.