A DAY IN THE CITY OF VIENNA

TUESDAY, 27th June

ST. STEPHEN’S CATHEDRAL (More commonly known by its German title: Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna. It has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-coloured roof (111 metres long), become one of the city’s most recognisable symbols. 230,000 glazed tiles cover the roof which is so steep that it is sufficiently cleaned by the rain alone and is seldom covered by snow. Standing at 136 metres tall and affectionately referred to by the city’s inhabitants as “Steffl”, St. Stephen’s Cathedral’s massive south tower is its highest point and a dominant feature of the Vienna skyline. The Cathedral has 23 bells in total. Composer Ludwig van Beethoven discovered the totality of his deafness when he saw birds flying out of the bell tower as a result of the bells’ tolling but could not hear the bells.

THE PESTSÄULE (Plague Column or Trinity Column) is located on the Graben, a street in the inner city of Vienna. It was erected in 1679 by Leopold l following the Great Plague epidemic.

PETERSKIRCHE is the second oldest church in Vienna and the city’s finest example of Baroque church architecture.

HOFBURG PALACE – The Hofburg is the former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna. Built in the 13th century and expanded in the centuries since, the Palace has been the seat of power of the Habsburg dynasty rulers and today the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. It was the principal imperial winter residence, as Schonbrunn Palace was the summer residence. The name translates as “Royal Castle” which denotes its origins when it was initially constructed during the Medieval age. The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses which perform in the Winter Riding School in the HOFBURG. They are intelligent and lively horses and are Europe’s oldest horse breed.

VOLKSGARTEN  (English: People’s Garden) is a rose scented public garden in the Inner Stadt, first district of Vienna. The park was built over the city fortifications destroyed by Napoleon in 1809. The VOLKSGARTEN was opened to the public in 1823. At the centre of the park stands the neoclassical Theseus Temple. The park is famous for its beautiful rose garden with over 3,000 rose bushes of more than 200 different cultivars. This is a peaceful cocoon in the midst of a busy city.

AUSTRIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY is the largest library in Austria with 7.4 million items in its various collections. The State Hall of the Library is located in the Hofburg Palace. Founded by the Habsburg, the library was originally called the Hof-Bibliothek (“Imperial Library”); the change to the current name occurred in 1920. The Library complex includes four Museums as well as multiple special collections and archives. The State Hall is home to around 200,000 books from 1501 to 1850. At the time of our visit there was a special exhibition – 300 Years of Freemasonry. Tradition has it that the “United Grand Lodge of England” was founded in 1717, beginning the history of modern freemasonry, which was to become an integral element of European intellectual and cultural history. In the exhibition the Austrian National Library presented a backstage view of this both famous and mysterious brotherhood. We were there to enjoy the Library, not the exhibition and I admit that in many ways it spoiled the experience for me. The Library is absolutely beautiful.

CULINARY DELIGHT – K.u.K. Hoflieferanten Gerstner &  Schlumberger in the first district of Vienna near the State Opera. The beautifully decorated location combines a Schlumberger sparkling Bar, a delicious pastry shop and a great variety of fancy gourmet food in an elegant interior which was for us a peaceful afternoon retreat – does coffee with a lemon curd pastry tempt?

VIENNA STATE OPERA is today considered one of the most important opera houses in the world; in particular it is the house with the largest repertoire. Opera means something to everyone in Vienna – an admission ticket is not needed to experience a great evening full of music and song. Oper live am Platz is held in April/May/June where The Vienna State Opera broadcasts more than 80 performances live on a 50 m2 LED Video wall each season. We came upon this quite unexpectedly at sunset after a very full sightseeing day so only stopped briefly to enjoy a snippet of the performance.

VIENNA – FROM CASTLE TO CHURCH TO MARKET

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.

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SCHONBRUNN PALACE (German: Schloss SCHONBRUNN)

MONDAY, 26th June

Like most visitors to Vienna, Austria, SCHONBRUNN Palace was high on my list of places to visit so, together with Pat and Erika, we set aside this day to enjoy visiting the place we had viewed in books, travel programmes and brochures. Since the mid-1950s the Palace has been a major tourist attraction. Eight million people visit the Palace, Park and its attractions each year.

The Palace is a symbol of the power and influence of the House of Habsburg over a long period of European history from the end of the 17th to the early 20th century. It is a former imperial summer residence and the 1,441-room baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural and historical monuments in the country. The name Schonbrunn, meaning”beautiful spring”, has its roots in an artesian well from which water was consumed by the court. The Palace in its present form was built and remodelled during the 1740-50s during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift. Franz l commissioned the redecoration of the palace exterior in the neoclassical style as it appears today. The buildings and the gardens are owned by the Republic of Austria . Emperor Franz Joseph was born in the palace in 1830. In 1916 he also died there in his bed at the age of 86.

We purchased tickets for the Grand Tour of the Palace (with audio guide) to learn about the Viennese dynasty and to get a glimpse into the old imperial world. We walked through the elaborate themed rooms from Sisi’s private chambers and beauty salon to the Marie Antoinette room which was used to host family dinners.

 

THE GLORIETTE  (from the 12th century French gloire meaning “little room”) is a building in a garden erected on a site that is elevated with respect to the surroundings. At Schonbrunn it is a colonnaded building flanked by wings and arches and topped with an imperial eagle (very impressive). The views over the gardens and palace from this unique vantage point are spectacular. The inner hall was originally used as a dining room in the 19th century and now  is a lovely cafe area. We chose to sit at one of the outdoor tables to enjoy our coffee and cake.

SACHERTORTE – It was an opportunity for me to taste one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties. It is a specific type of chocolate cake, or torte, invented by Austrian Franz Sachertorte in 1832 for Prince Wendell von Metternich in Vienna.

ORANGERY GARDEN – measuring 189m in length, the Orangery is one of the two largest Baroque orangeries in the world, alongside the one in the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris. Franz Joseph ll used to use his Orangery or, as it was called, the ‘winter garden’ for imperial court festivities where he would decorate the citrus trees with exotic flowers to impress his guests! The cultivation of exotic plants in tubs goes back to the early eighteenth century.

PRIVY GARDEN – the Privy Garden lies immediately in front of the east facade of the Palace.The four parterre sections are framed with narrow beds and at the centre is an old Yew Tree. As the garden is sheltered from the wind, fine specimens from the citrus collection of the Federal Parks Authority are transferred here during the summer months.

VIENNESE APPLE STRUDELSHOW – Erika and I watched a young baker from the Imperial Bakery of Schonbrunn bake “traditional, classic, typical Viennese apple strudel – probably the best in town”. We watched as the chef rolled and pulled the dough until it became paper thin (see through). End result – YUMMY, and I can vouch for that.

The Park at Schonbrunn was opened to the Public around 1779 and since then has provided a popular recreational amenity for the Viennese population as well as being a focus of great cultural and historical interest for international visitors like us. It extends for 1.2 kms from east to west and approximately one km from north to south.

Another day incorporating all recognised methods of perception – seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. What joy to learn so much through these God-given senses.

HOHENSALZBURG FORTRESS

FRIDAY, 23 June – p.m.

After a morning of fun (and History) at Hellbrunn we visited Salzburg Alstadt (Old Town), particularly at the famous landmark, the HOHENSALZBURG Fortress. Towering high above the roofs of the medieval city stands the castle and modern fortress with 900 years of construction history. Impressive and unforgettable views of the prince archbishop city and the mountain landscape. It is central Europe’s largest, completely preserved fortress dating from the 11th century. The Funicular was built in 1892 and is the oldest in Austria.

RESIDENZPLAZ

HISTORIC CENTRE OF THE CITY OF SALZBURG

 

SCHLOSSKONZERTEMIRABELL, SALZBURG

FRIDAY, 23rd June – 20:00 uhr

Months ago we had booked seats for this Concert in the Marble Hall of MIRABELL Palace. It was our night for a Mozart experience and what an amazing concert it was. Knowing that we were in Area No. 1, I was hoping that I had chosen well. When at the desk converting my print-out to a ticket, the lady’s face lit up when she said “front row, centre seats”. There were just ten seats in the front row and we were seats five and six.

Ensemble1756 was founded in Salzburg in the year 2006. Stunningly, the ‘Mozart City’ was missing an ensemble that would put its primary focus on the original interpretation of Mozart’s works on historical instruments. The original instruments, the intensive work with stylistics and rhetoric of the 18 Century and a balanced combination of instruments, oriented towards the historic rules – that’s how the ensemble makes the music sound authentic. As an auditor once noted All you’re missing is the original Mozart-air”. The “Orchestra 1756″ designed regular concert Series in Salzburg and Vienna, especially the ongoing rehearsals and concerts in the Viennese St. Charles church led to an exceptional consonance and harmony”.

What a night!!!!! The performers were totally absorbed in the music but also showed feeling in their facial expressions and body movements. Martin Osiak on the Barockvioline was exceptional in the demonstration not just of his amazing skill but his absolute love for music and his instrument. After a standing ovation and an encore we made our way back to the hotel by 22:15 – it was only just dark.

Apologies for photography but it was not a time or place to be obvious with a camera – managed a few from my lap for the memory bank.

HELLBRUNN PALACE

FRIDAY, 23rd June

Who would have thought that we two visitors from Australia would come to Salzburg Austria in June to experience 35 degrees C. We left our Hotel at 08:30 this morning to visit first, HELLBRUNN Palace. This meant a bus ride and then short walk to arrive by 09:15. We joined a large contingent of school children and a number of adults for a Trick Fountains Tour at 09:30. Today the Trick Fountains are just as much fun as they were in the Renaissance – beautifully preserved and absolutely unique.  The HELLBRUNN Palace with its Trick Fountains was not actually the residence of Archbishop Markus Sittikus (1612-1619), it was built for his pleasure. He used it as his summer retreat. Markus Sittikus built countless surprises, hidden fountains and enchanting caves into the trick fountain area. It was great for us that the schoolchildren were there today as the sound effects (many screams) created a reality that only kids can produce. The Tour Guide gave information first in German and then in English and often gave the nod to adults to move to another place, although some remained in wrong places and got quite wet. The children, of course, loved every minute of it.

HELLBRUNN PALACE PARK – Art historians see the park as a “cabinet of wonders” in garden architecture. “Younger experts can explore the most beautiful playground in the city and the health conscious can wade through the water wonder garden”. In a corner of the Park sits the Gazebo from Sound of Music – Tourist buses make it a photo stop for TOURISTS on a Sound of Music Tour.

SALZKAMMERGUT LAKES AND MOUNTAINS

THURSDAY, 22nd June

HOP ON HOP OFF BUS – We made our way to the Hauptbahnhof and purchased tickets for this tour. This enabled us to travel free for the day on all other Salzburg transport.  This suited us well as the starting point for the Bus was at the MIRABELL Gardens. We were on the 09:40 bus and decided that  ST. GILGEN would be our first stop. When leaving the bus we knew that there would be another to take us on our way in 90 minutes. A stroll through the elegant village on the shore of Lake Wolfgangsee revealed beautifully decorated houses with lovely window boxes and well cared for beds of flowers in the public areas. St. GILGEN International School is one of the truly outstanding centres of learning in Europe.

It was in this village that on 25th December 1720, Mozart’s mother was born. Anna Maria Pertl was born in St. GILGEN and died on 3rd July, 1778. She married Leopold Mozart in Salzburg in 1747. The two were regarded as the handsomest couple in Salzburg.

 MONDSEE  – The history of Mondseeland stretches back 6,000 years. Ruins of settlements were found underwater near the banks of the Lakes.  The water in Lakes MONDSEE and Irrsee are the warmest in the region with temperatures up to 27 degrees C (80 degrees F)

The Basilica of St. Michael is Mondsee’s defining landmark and has a fascinating and eventful history. It was built in 12th century and is one of the largest Gothic churches in Austria. The beautiful baroque interior was created in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The former Benedictine Abbey Church was the setting for the wedding scene in the Movie, Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Visitors still come from far and wide to admire the impressive basilica.