A wunderbah weekend in Vienna


It's amazing how many things you can pack into 3 days. 

Recently we visited Vienna and managed to see Hundertwasser's village, Parliament, Belvedere Museum, Butterfly House, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Mozart's house, Albertina Museum, Opera House, Spanish Riding School, St Stephen's Cathedral and a lot more.

Well just the outside of some of them, which we saw while wizzing around the Ringstrasse (Ring Road) on the tram.

So yeh it was a bit superficial... but still it was a nice introduction to Vienna.

There is a huge amount of museums, galleries and palaces to see in Vienna. 

All in spectacular spic and span condition. 

It'd be better to go in summer for sure because of the gardens but it doesn't matter that much what season it is when you're eyeballing paintings and such.

Dark History

Vienna's one of those places I'd always heard about since I was a child because of the music and art. Freud. And especially the murder of it's Jews in WW2. It's got its dark subterranean history. And you can't help but think about it the whole time you're there. Well I couldn't.

The beautiful buildings, the graceful promenades, the grandeur and splendour. The 'Culture' and 'Civilization'. But hey you went about murdering thousands of your own citizens only 70 years ago because they were different from you.

And there's barely a mention of it anywhere.

The focus is squarely on the world of art and high culture and entertainment. Mozart, Gustav Klimt, horses and churches. The waltz. The incredible architecture. All the cliches of Vienna. Like everywhere else in the world with dark histories.

 The Architecture

However I do love them all. Especially Mozart and horses. But first the architecture.

Just walking around without a plan you see the architectural brilliance of all periods in Vienna.

 Parliament building (1874-83) with a statue of Athena out front.

The influence of ancient Greece and Rome is everywhere especially as Vienna was originally a Roman settlement though we didn't see any original Roman remains.

I found the Parliament building intimidatingly cold and military like but dazzling. The statue of the Goddess Athena sets the tone.

To me the city's not as intimidating as a whole in it's military like presence as Paris. With it's  triumphal arches everywhere. And not as dirty as Paris either. Vienna's as clean as a whistle.

As well the people are definitely more relaxed and less angry it seemed to me.

Everyone spoke english with a minimum of fuss too... which is fantastic if you happen to be one of the poor tragics who only speak english.

 Vienna's Opera House (1862 French Renaissance style)

Walking to St Stephen's Cathedral along the Kärntnerstrasse.

Souvenirs with the Opera house in the background.

This magical church is the Votive Church on Roosevelteplatz. 

It was built in the 19th century on a French gothic model. They're renovating the spire at the moment. 

There's very little heating in any of the large churches in Vienna. Presumably they either have no parishioners or they don't want any.

I thought the stained glass in the Votive Church was sensitive and brilliant in colour design.

Exterior of Votive Church.

Gustav Klimt. Adele Block-Bauer's portrait. (1907)
I was a bit disappointed with Klimt's paintings. I think they look better reproduced. The colour's a bit dull in real life. Just my opinion. 

The painting initially belonged to the Bloch-Bauer family. 

It was confiscated by the Nazis, and bought by the Moderne Gallerie (now The Belvedere), Vienna in 1941. 

In 2006, a court decision attributed the ownership of the painting to Maria Altmann, the niece of the Bloch-Bauers. 

She sold the painting for 135 million dollars to Ronald Lauder, who transferred it to the Neue Gallery in New York City.

An artist smokes on his pipe waiting for some customers.

Outside St Stephen's Cathedral a street entertainer without an audience.

I took this photo while on the tram. Not bad really. It looks like an embassy possibly judging by the flags.

The special Jugenstil (art nouveau) style was founded in Vienna and a lot of buildings are in this style.
Close up of some of the figures below the statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Parliament building.

 Mosaic on the Parliament building.

There's horses and carraiges for the tourists of course. Many of the horses had a long wait as it was so cold.

Inside St Stephens Cathedral with a few parishioners.

St Stephen's Cathedral (1220) roof. It's in the heart of Vienna.

Around the exterior of St Stephen's Cathedral. It's decorated with some really moving religious sculpture beautifully done in number of different styles.

There's not as many cafes in Vienna as there are in Stockholm by a long shot.

Mostly Mozart

Mozart is absolutely everywhere in Vienna. 

His face and name adorns chocolates, t-towels, street names, posters, signs, restaurants. 

 Everywhere. 

Mozart's my favourite all time composer so of course we went to his house on Domgasse near St Stephen's Church. It was interesting to imagine him there composing and entertaining over the pool table. 

But the extra special moment was going to a Mozart chamber concert in a room called the Sala Terrena where he conducted his own music. 

The walls were painted in the late Renaissance Venetian style adding to the ambience. It was magic. Yes it's half done for the tourists but the playing and music was great.

 This room they call the oldest concert hall in Vienna because Mozart used to work and play for Bishop Colloredo here in 1781. 

He lived here from 16 March to 2 May 1781. 

And more architecture...


Admiring the sculpture.

Entrance to the Belvedere Museum.

There was a guy out the front desperate to get us to come to his Gustave Klimt shop opposite the gate.
 But we didn't go as we bought everything at the museum shop. As everyone else does no doubt.

Except for Sharon Stone whose visit to the shop was immortalised on posters all along the street.


The baroque architecture of the Belvedere museum and garden is stunning, though the garden would be better in summer.

The Belvedere baroque parterre garden with a lovely animal, woman, bird combo!

In the distance the  low rise Vienna city with just the church spires punctuating the hazy blue day.

The park in front of the Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly house) in Burggarten Wien.

It was relaxing to be in a tropical environment for an hour.

The Jugenstil (art noveau) butterfly greenhouse on the right and the State library on the left.


Add-ons


We wizzed around central Vienna on the trams with the 3 day Vienna card which is quite good value. 

You get 72 hours free transport and all these discounts.

The Mozarthaus Vienna (formerly Figarohaus)
Domgasse 5, 1st District
Daily 10am-7pm


Go here to book tickets for the Vienna Mozart Ensemble (in historical costumes) in the 18th C theatre.

Check out the city walk of Mozart designed by Tita Büttner with lots of historical information. Just google it and you can download the pdf file for free. She designed walks for other composers too.

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