SATURDAY, 24th June
This is the day of our final train journey using our Eurail Pass – Salzburg to Vienna. We have thoroughly enjoyed the train travel through France, Switzerland and Austria on a 3 Country Pass. Our advice to others is to travel First Class with seat reservations. The only momentary testing time is when manhandling (or woman handling) cases on and off the train (some easier than others).
Erika, who had flown from Zurich, was at the station to meet us and had already checked the direction of Hotel Beim Theresianum so we caught up on news as we trundled our cases on the ten minute walk. This is a Hotel I would happily recommend. We have an accommodation budget when planning our travels and most would be in the 3 star category. The Staff here were very welcoming and helpful and suggested a great place for lunch so we were soon on our way on an “Erika Walking Tour” with lunch being our first stop. My Haloumi and Mango Salad was certainly a good choice.
Map in hand, our first point of interest was the BELVEDERE. The two Belvedere Palaces were built in the early eighteenth century to be used as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736). One of Europe’s most stunning Baroque landmarks, this ensemble, comprising the Upper and Lower Belvedere and an extensive garden is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the Belvedere houses the greatest collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day.
HOCHSTRAHLBRUNNEN (high jet fountain) The fountain was built in 1873 to celebrate the completion of the First Vienna Mountain Spring Pipeline. The jets symbolise a calendar: 365 on the outer ring for days of the year, 6 little fountains and the central island for days of the week, 12 high water jets for the months, 24 smaller jets for the hours of the day and 30 big ones in the middle for the days of the month. THE SOVIET WAR MEMORIAL behind the fountain was built in 1945 to commemorate 17,000 Soviet soldiers who were killed in action during the Vienna Offensive in World War ll.
KARLSKIRCHE (ST. CHARLES’S CHURCH) is a church located on the south side of Karlsplatz. Widely considered the most outstanding baroque church in Vienna as well as one of the city’s greatest buildings, KARLSKIRCHE is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, one of the counter-reformers of the sixteenth century. KARLSKIRCHE contains a dome in the form of an elongated ellipsoid and this plus its two flanking columns of bas reliefs has brought fame to the architecture of the building.In 1966 an association of friends and patrons of the church started a thorough renovation of the interior including the world-famous dome frescoes in the year 2000. Tourists are still offered the opportunity to access the platform erected for the renovation via a temporary lift for a unique view of the frescoes at close range.
THE SECESSION BUILDING is an exhibition hall built in 1897 as an architectural manifesto for the Vienna Secession. Secession refers to the seceding of a group of rebel artists from the long-established fine art institution. The building has been selected to figure on the national side of the 0.50 Euro Austrian coin. The leaf work dome (“golden cabbage”) is the symbol of the Secession and visible from afar. When it opened in 1898 it touched off a scandal. Today, it is one of Austria’s most photographed structures and a leading centre for contemporary art.
NASCHMARKT is Vienna’s most popular market. It is about 1.5 kms (0.93m) long and has existed since the 16th century when mainly milk bottles were sold. Milk bottles were made out of ash (wood from the Ash tree). Asch (German for “ash”) led to the name “Aschenmarkt”. From 1793 onwards all fruits and vegetables brought to Vienna with carts had to be sold there, while goods arriving on the Danube were sold elsewhere. The atmosphere of the NASCHMARKT is famous far beyond the borders of Vienna and large numbers of tourists visit the market every year.