This is our travel diary on the holiday we have had in Vienna at Christmas. We also celebrated the arrival of the New Year. Vienna, the capital of Austria, retains all the vestiges of the imperial city. The palaces have been transformed into cafes, restaurants, and shops. Horse carriages that carry strolling tourists add to a luxurious ambiance.
Not very big but most of the attractions of each other are very close, so walking is the best way to get to know and discover its corners, palaces, churches, squares. Moreover, its public transportation system, with many trams and some buses covers the entire city very efficiently and is also widespread in the frequency. Even though we were in the middle of winter at the end of year and it was cold, the temperatures that were there were not too cold, which always was above 0.
During the days we spent there we visited, among other attractions and monuments, the Imperial Palace of Schönbrunn, the Town Hall or Rathaus, where we attended the New Year concert, Stephansdom or St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Hotel Sacher, the origin of the famous cake, the amusement park Prater, the famous building of the Opera of Vienna, the churches of San Carlo Borromeo and St. Peter and Minoritenkirche where there is a replica of the painting of the last supper of Da Vinci that was commissioned by Napoleon.
We also witnessed a concert of classical music in the Palace of Auersperg, and if we had not made the visit to Vienna, it would not have been the same thing, so we welcomed the New Year in the Heldenplatz, in front of the Hofburg Palace.
Another activity that you should not miss in Vienna is the famous Viennese coffee, which not only allows you to have breakfast or lunch in the ancient halls of palaces, it is a culinary delight with really fair prices. In the meantime we leave this map with all the places of interest that we visited.
We arrived at the airport of Vienna in the afternoon and after collecting our bags we took the CAT or City Airport Train, which left us very close to the hotel, where we will be staying, near the town park. After we checked into our hotel, we rested a bit and decided to dedicate our first afternoon wandering aimlessly to have a first contact with the city.
So we crossed the Stadtpark and we headed towards the center of the city, passing through Krugerstraße up to the Tourist Workshop, just in time before it closed. There, we were informed about the essential points of interest in Vienna and the various activities typical of Christmas and New Year. You can also buy tickets for the concerts and museums with discounts and the Vienna Card, that allows access to the most interesting places in the city.
An interesting option if you want to visit many buildings and museums is the Vienna Card, which is valid for 4 days. The card entitles you to discounts on the purchase of tickets on up to 210 museums and attractions, historic sites, cafes, restaurants and Heurigen taverns included in the user guide that you receive with the purchase of the same.
It also facilitates public transport, since it allows free travel for 72 hours in the metro, trams and buses as well as discounts at the City Airport Train and at the Vienna Airport Lines bus service. In our case we did not take it because we wanted to walk around the city a bit at a time and we planned only to visit some important buildings. Remember that the card does not include entry fees to buildings, only the discounts.
With our brochures in hand we continued the tour to Vienna, via the Kärntner straße, the Graben square and Kohlmarkt street. They are located in the historic center and are characterized by the presence of famous brand shops and boutiques. If you're planning to go shopping, keep in mind that commercial zones are normally from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm, while many stores extend the time on Thursday afternoon up to 8 pm.
In our walk we arrived at the Parliament of Austria. A neo-classical greek style building, built as part of the renovation project of the Ringstrasse, a circular avenue in the center of Vienna, was badly damaged in the Second World War and rebuilt in 1956.
The two ramps that give access to the main entrance door have the sides of the statues dedicated to men of Greek and Roman statesmen. In the center there are bronze sculptures: the Dominators of Horses. In front of the front façade there is the statue of Pallas Athena or Minerva, the Greek goddess of peace and understanding with her hands supporting Nike, Winged Victory.
There are guided tours from Monday to Friday from 11 am to 3 pm, if there is no parliamentary session.
Rathaus, Vienna City Hall
Past the Parliament, on the same sidewalk is the Rathaus, the Vienna City Hall. It was built in neo-Gothic style in 1883, inspired by the Brussels City Hall. Its central spire, 100 m high, is surrounded by the typical Viennese symbol, a rider carrying a flag. A couple of this is on the building's facade. In the square in front of City Hall is one of the Vienna Christmas markets, with several stalls selling sweets and hot drinks.
It's a place to visit, and several times we came back we saw that it is one of the places where the Viennese celebrate New Year and where it is broadcast the New Year's concert on the giant screens. There are guided tours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1 pm, if there is no session in the consistory.
Burgtheater, the Vienna Royal Theatre
Just in front of the Rathaus is the Burgtheater, the Vienna Royal Theatre, which is one of the most picturesque in the world and the largest German-speaking. It was designed by architects who also built the Museum of History and Art Museum. It was built in 1888 during the reign of Franz Joseph. The main floor is adorned by nine busts of great playwrights. To the right is the Austria Halm, Grillparzer and Hebbel and in the center are the great poets Goethe, Lessing and Schiller and to the left is Molière, Shakespeare and Calderon de la Barca.
The guided tours from April to June are held on Tuesday to Thursday at 4 pm, from July to October on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1, 2 and 3 pm.
After this trivial walk, during which we saw several places at night and in the cold Austrian winter, we looked for a place to have dinner and we returned to the hotel to rest and to make preparations for the next day.
We spent our second day in Vienna visiting buildings and monuments, and walking around the city. We started from the farthest place, the Palace of Schömbrunn and then back towards the old town, where we saw the St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Church of San Pietro and the Plague Column, among other places.
The Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family, is one of the most impressive Baroque buildings in Europe. It was the wife of Emperor Ferdinand II, who in 1642 ordered the construction of a summer residence, to which he gave the name Schönbrunn. The palace and gardens were built after the turkish siege, which were totally renovated by order of Maria Theresa after 1743.
It was included in the list of World Heritage Site in 1996 and is especially recommended to visit its magnificent gardens. In the guided tour inside the palace you can see the rooms as they were at the time of Empress Sissi, with its furniture, dishes, curtains and clothes. It shows the private cabinet of Sissi, one of the first to own such a luxury at the time.
I must admit that the visit inside the Palace is stressful as well as expensive. They mix the groups with each other, which causes pressures, and there's so many people that you find it difficult to see what the guides are showing and explaining.
The spacious gardens of the palace, with free admission, invite you to stroll as in the days of the Emperor. They also have a maze and a zoo, the oldest in the world. They extend around the building and climb a pronounced hill top. There is the Piazzetta, a building housing the café and restaurant, where you can grab a coffee while rejoicing in the view of the city.
We liked best the gardens and the interior of the building, which were huge, well-groomed with magnificent views of the city and on the same building. Although there are many people, you can find quiet places, or at least have enough space to find you handy. We did not have traveled at all, even if we have dedicated a whole morning. In the square where the magnificent entrance to the building is a Christmas market, which is opened from November 19 to January 1, although at different times. There you can find ornaments, souvenirs, sweets and hot drinks.
St. Stephen's Cathedral
The St. Stephen's Cathedral or Stephansdom is without doubt, one of the most interesting sights of Vienna, as well as the national symbol of Austria. It is located in the historic center and was dedicated to St. Stephen in 1137. The cathedral is topped by a large tower in the shape of needle (Steffl) built in the Gothic style, with its 137 meters high, it can be seen from different places of Vienna. And 'possible to climb inside through a spiral staircase, from the viewpoint of the tower there is a beautiful view of downtown.
In the back of the cathedral is the roof of tiles, made up of more than 250,000 tiles and which was restored after the Second World War. In the right part of the cathedral's entrance called Porta dei Cantori, which could not be used by women. Once inside the cathedral you can see different architectural styles that correspond to different eras; the nave, the side chapels and the choir belong to one of the restructuring implemented in the Gothic style, while some of the side buildings were built in Baroque style.
The interior of the cathedral houses the remains of most of the family members of the Habsburgs and was the wedding venue and subsequent burial of the magnificent Mozart. A curious thing concerns the image of Christ crucified located in Tirna chapel with the tomb of Prince Eugene of Savoy. This is an image of Christ who, according to legend, has a human hair, whose beard keeps growing. In the basement of the cathedral you can visit the famous catacombs of Vienna.
The Habsburgs, after death, were veiled in the small Imperial Chapel Burgkapelle, the courtyard of the Swiss, where even today sing the Children Singers of Vienna, after they were brought to the St. Stephen's Cathedral for the funeral service. There remained, in large urns, their remains and lower bowels, what was left of the body emptied after embalming, except the heart, which was guarded by the Augustinians.
In addition to these mortal remains, which remain in the polls closed in the Cathedral, the catacombs hide deposits for bodies of people hit by the plague and tombs of archbishops in a curious maze. The guided tour ends outside the temple, the place where he was buried Mozart in almost underground. In addition, the colored artificial lighting of the cathedral, and the external and internal, give an air of mystery, creating interesting lighting effects that deserves watching.
In front of St. Stephen's Cathedral is the postmodern curvilinear building Haus Haas or Haas home. Built in 1985, the Haas Haus arouses much controversy for being such a modern building in the medieval center of the capital. But Hollein, its architect defended his work saying that he built the Haas Haus on medieval houses, but even though these in turn were built on Roman ruins.
The Haas Haus seems a cylinder with its differentiated façade into two parts with the first pale stone in a Roman structure of drawers and the second the whole crystal which is reflected the St. Stephen's Cathedral, creating a fusion of modern and history. The interior design of the Haas Haus reflecting eclectic architecture full of humor and imagination, where we found a curious scale that does not lead anywhere.
This building houses a cafe and restaurant on the top floor, a hotel and a shopping mall at the lowest floor. From its top floor, through the convex windows of coffee, you can contemplate a beautiful view of the square and the St. Stephen's Cathedral.
Peterskirche - Church of San Pietro
The present building of the church of St. Peter is of the eighteenth century, but it is known that there was a church in the same place 1200 years ago. It is said that it was the same Charlemagne who founded it in the year 792 and would be the oldest church in Vienna, although there is nothing left of the first church. The present church of St. Peter (Peterskirche), in Baroque style and inspired by the Basilica of St. Peter, was built in 1703. Outwardly highlights its dome and the covering of gilded stucco and ocher, in addition to its interesting frescoes and altar blades.
We were fortunate that on that afternoon there was a concert of sacred music (with free admission), so we visited twice, the first to contemplate the building and its interior, and the second to hear the concert a bit.
Well as the Plague Column (Pestsäule) is located in the heart of Vienna, a few steps from St. Stephen's Cathedral, in the street Graben. It was built under the reign of Leopold I, to thank the end of the plague of 1679, which took more than a hundred thousand victims. Inaugurated in 1693 and built in Baroque style, it is formed por un base decorated multi pads, on which stands a pyramid of clouds, statues and angels, to conclude with the sculptural group in gilded copper that represents the Holy Trinity.
In the evening we walked up to a Viennese pubs that I wanted to visit for several years called the Philosoph. It's a pub or breweries in full of Viennese pub area and mixes the normal activity of breweries including its happy hour, with some cultural activities and competitions such as quizzes and trivias. We took a beer and chatted a bit with the owner. After walking a little we returned to the hotel to recharge our strength for the next day, so you can continue to learn about Vienna.
During our third day trip to Vienna, we continued to go little by little the city, starting from the Opernring, one of the streets that surround the city and the Karlsplatz, where we saw the Church of San Carlo Borromeo and the building of the Secession, to get up to the OR Vienna pear and Hotel Sacher and then walk towards the Hofburg Imperial Palace, passing by the Albertina Museum and the Butterfly House.
Church of St. Charles Borromeo
Located in Charles Square (Karlsplatz), the San Carlo Borromeo Church (Karlskirche) is baroque, although it has other combined architectural styles. The main facade is of greek style, the exterior columns of Roman inspiration and the baroque interior decoration. It was ordered by Emperor Charles, in gratitude to St. Charles Borromeo (patron of the struggle against the plague) to the extinction of the plague in 1713 and took as its model the church of St. Peter Vatican.
The exterior has a monumental central building covered with a dome 72 meters high which is flanked by two towers, the main façade (greek style) has six columns supporting a pediment where are represented the plague disasters; this is preceded by a staircase flanked by two Roman-style columns of 33 meters high, inspired by Trajan's column in Rome, whose spiral reliefs narrate the life of San Carlo Borromeo.
The interior is oval, broad and bright thanks to large windows and the huge dome. In the dome you can admire the fresco The Glory of St. Charles Borromeo. It also highlights the rich Baroque interior decoration.
In another corner of the Karlsplatz we found the Secession building, when members of the secessionist movement commissioned a building that became a key piece of Viennese Modernism and is now an exhibition hall. During its more than one hundred years of history, the building of the Vienna Secession has undergone several reforms and renovations as the golden letters at the entrance said: To every age its art, to art its freedom. During World War II it was severely damaged and was rebuilt in 1963.
The building is a compact cube, with four towers and almost without windows, topped by a golden dome. The symbol shown in the entire building is the bay leaf, which can be seen in the dome itself known as the golden cabbage, although in reality they are a couple of bay leaves and 700 berries, on the pillars, in garlands, it symbolizes the development of art and culture.
The main room of the Secession, evenly lit from the top, is the ideal exhibition space. It is often called the white cube of art history. We can see the double filter of light coming from the roof. For the secessionists, the architecture had a fundamental meaning.
One of the works highlighted in the building of the Secession is the Beethoven Frieze, which cover the surface of three walls. It builds on the interpretation of Richard Wagner on the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven. And it is considered one of the key places of the Viennese Art.
Vienna State Opera or Staatsoper
We continue our journey, back toward the city center to get to the building of the Vienna State Opera (Staatsoper). In its time it was the first public building on the Ring. At its opening in 1868, the building received strong criticism that caused the suicide of one of the architects and a fatal heart attack at another of them. Criticisms were due to the fact that the building was lower than that of the Opera Garnier in Paris. They say that the Emperor Franz Joseph was so struck by the death of the architects, who had no more courage to commission other buildings.
The first work that was performed in the Staatsoper was Mozart's Don Giovanni. In 1945 an American bomber confused the theater's roof with that of a train and bombed the building. It was reopened after ten years by Karl Böhm with Fidelio by Beethoven. For this, the original Renaissance style remains only the main staircase, the façade, the foyer of Schwind, the tea room. The rest belongs to the fifties, when it was rebuilt after the bombing.
The famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna is one of the most Viennese icons that exists and shares of cements with the Old Opera House since 1869. The hotel was built by Eduard Sacher, a member of one of the most distinguished Viennese dynasties. His father, Frank Sacher, was the inventor of the famous chocolate cake for which you feel genuine fervor and which is responsible for the hotel's reputation and that an influx of tourists.
The ownership of the recipes was a source of litigation in the mid-twentieth century, among the heirs of Sacher (hotel owners) and Demel bakery. The court ruled that the hotel had right to market the cake with the name of the Original Sacher-Torte, while Demel had to do it like Eduard Sacher-Torte.
The hotel's café and its restaurants are open to the public. They still make the cake with aristocratic setting enhanced by the memory of the first lady of the Sacher family. The restaurant bears the name, Anna Sacher. It had its distinguished guests like Queen Elizabeth, Nureyev, Kennedy, Von Karajan. You can taste the delicious cake in its halls of power and luxury Art Deco, with uniformed staff, the doorman, the wardrobe and the different ambient salons from other eras.
The Albertina Museum in Vienna belongs to the complex of the Hofburg Imperial Palace and is located in Albertinaplatz, accessible from Augustinerstrasse, right behind the opera. This museum has an impressive background that can only show in rotation, with temporary exhibitions. It has drawings of Da Vinci, works by Dürer, Manet, Renoir, Klimt and many others, and its exhibitions are very different. If you bring a backpack or large bags, leave them in the wardrobe. At first glance you see only the cloakroom for a fee, but down the stairs you will find free lockers.
The Hofburg Imperial Palace
The Hofburg Imperial Palace is a city within the city and requires enough time to visit it entirely. It is not just the building that is called Hofburg Palace. Although it appears on the map, it is a complex of buildings surrounded by gardens. The view of the building Neue Hofburg, with its semi-circular façade, is superb.
Construction began in the thirteenth century and was expanded and renovated during several centuries. It was the official winter residence of the Habsburgs between 1283 and 1918. It now houses the office of the President of the Republic of Austria and different institutions.
The visit begins entering the door of San Michele, in the square; the entrance is decorated with a fountain on each side, columns and domes and below is a decorated pedestal with a sculpture representing "The Labors of Hercules." Passing under the entrance we find the great dome of St Michael, where there are entrances to the Museum of the table and Silversmithing the Court, the Imperial Apartments and the Sisi Museum (visit with audio guide), the famous Empress.
It has about 2,600 dependencies divided into 18 wings and is divided into several buildings, among which we find the Albertina, the Church of the Augustinians, the Art History Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Museum Quarter (Museums Quartier Wien), the National Library and Spanish Riding School.
Inside the building one must highlight the Imperial Apartments, the Imperial Chapel, the Treasury Chamber (Schatzkammer), Heroes Square (Heldenplatz), the Courtyard and the Gate of the Swiss (Schweizerhof and Schweizertor), the Square of Joseph II (Josefsplatz) in addition to coffee, squares and parks which also form part of this complex.
The Butterfly House
The Butterfly House is another of the buildings belonging to the Hofburg complex. It is located in the Burggarten park and is known as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world Jugendstil style. It has 280 m2 and check over the Imperial Palace Garden. Since 1998, houses a collection of hundreds of exotic butterflies that live in almost natural conditions, that flutter freely in tropical forest in miniature, with waterfalls, ponds and bridges.
Spanish Riding School in Vienna
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna was created in 1572 and is part of the Hofburg complex. In 1735 was inaugurated the school in winter with the aim of offering young aristocrats the opportunity to receive riding lessons, as the Austrian Imperial Court felt a true devotion for the breeding and training of race horses. The name of the place is due to the fact that the first horses arrived from Spain.
It is an impressive Baroque hall where today are made of Lipizzaner horses practices and representations. In Riding School you can be seen horse shows (see their website) and the morning practice with or without music. At night we enjoyed the concert of classical music in the Auersperg Palace and we walked a bit in the soaking Franz Josefs Kai of the Danube Canal, before returning to the hotel to rest to visit the imperial city the next day (New Year).
Our fourth day in Vienna we visit the Belvedere complex, which is composed of two buildings, the top of a hill and the low Belvedere. These are separated by vast gardens. We also walked a bit in the Stadtpark and the famous Prater as we prepared for the Viennese New Year.
Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere) actually consists of two Baroque palaces that were built as a summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. As mentioned, the complex consists of two buildings separated by a huge French-style garden.
At the highest point of the garden is the Alto Belvedere. And the main building of the complex and has a much more elaborate facade, was built after the Lower Belvedere, between 1717 and 1723, as a pavilion of Prince Eugene of Savoy parties. We get up the elaborate wrought iron door, down the garden, and contemplate the appearance of the palace on top of the pond.
The Lower Belvedere is much smaller and has a less dramatic façade of the 'Alto Belvedere. It was built between 1712 and 1716 as a summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. In it out the richness of the ancient private dependencies and reception rooms of the Prince, like the golden room, the bedroom of the Prince, the grotesque of the room and the marble gallery. High Belvedere is a very diaphanous palace inwardly and has a few rooms. If your time is better to dedicate it to visit other buildings, although it is recommended to see this from the outside and stroll through its gardens.
Monument to the Russian Liberation
We entered from access Upper Belvedere, we went down through the gardens to the Lower Belvedere and we climbed the complex back to the center of town, where we found the monument to the Russian Liberation. It is located in Schwarzenberg Square (Schwarzenbergplatz), right behind a source commemorating the first aqueduct of Vienna (the source Hochstrahlbrunnen) . The monument has a Russian soldier with a banner that encourages his comrades to go into action, with a porch behind the temple.
It was built by the Soviets at the end of World War II, in 1945, after coming to Vienna and having liberated the city from the Germans.
The Wiener Stadtpark, or park in the city, is one of the oldest public parks in Vienna and one of the most visited. The park was designed in the style of an English garden and it was inaugurated in 1862, extends from the Parkring (the Ring) to the Heumarkt and is traversed throughout its length by the Wien River. Stadtpark is the park with several monuments and sculptures across Vienna. The most famous monument is the Johann Strauss (son), consisting of a semicircular marble relief inside which is the gilded bronze statue of Strauss.
Another interesting place in the park is the Wienfluss Regulierung building in Modernist style. And 'it formed by monumental stairs, halls and columns, which simulate the output of the Wien river surface. It is located in the southern part of the park, from the side to the Johannesgasse. This street is one of the entrances to the metro station Stadtpark, which still retains its original Modernist style.
Another very important building inside the Stadtpark is the Kursalon, opened in 1867 as a place of hydrotherapy, but since 1868 it is used as a palace for concerts and dances.
The Prater Park is the famous and huge public park of 6 million square meters which lies between the Danube Canal and the Danube and is located 3 km to the northeast of the center of Vienna. And it is crossed by Hauptallee avenue, 5 km long, and it was an imperial hunting ground that in 1766 the Emperor Joseph II donated it to the Viennese, thus opening to the public in that year as a place of leisure.
It is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, with over 250 attractions, including the ferris wheel or wheel of fortune (Riesenrad), and was built in 1896. With its 65 meters in height in 1949 and immortalized in the film The Third Man, the Riesenrad has become a symbol of Vienna. It also has a football stadium, the Prater Museum (museum of the history of the park), many cafés, restaurants, buffets and ice cream stand, as well as roads and trails with signs and aquatic areas. There are also companies for rental of sports equipment and leisure that allow to skate, play ball, jogging, cycling and walking through the park.
New Year's Eve in Vienna
The traditional thing for the Viennese is to celebrate the New Year on the streets, where they meet and create their own parties, mainly in the streets of the historic center of Vienna, which are full of food and drinks stands. The offer is more than varied and in all the emblematic places of the city becomes a festival, from Rathaus to the bank of the Danube, passing Stephansplatz. Surprising is the amount of people there on the street and as the majority of them are civic. In addition to the crowd we have not seen any kind of altercation and everything was very well organized.
They warned us that because it was the last day of the year most restaurants would remain closed at night unless you did a New Year's dinner, though always in the center there would be a place to dine, but the food stalls would not be enough to eat dinner that night.
We, as another 100,000 people, to say a figure because it was all crowded, celebrated the arrival of the New Year in front of the Imperial Palace Hofburg and we hiked a bit in the square in front of the town (Rathaus).
In the New Year's Day all the nations of the world look towards Vienna and its famous New Year's concert. Tickets for that concert are available only to a few and end up on the same day that are offered for sale, many months before the event. But you can see the concert live via the giant screens placed in the town square (Rathaus) and repeated at different times of the day.
This is what we did, get up late, eat breakfast in one of the most emblematic cafeterias of the city and head towards Rathaus to see the concert along with a lot of tourists gathered under a light rain, and with a little more cold than we wanted.
Rathaus - New Year's Concert in Vienna
After the end of the concert, with the Marcha Radetzky, we headed back toward the center of the city through the Kärntner Strasse and we passed the Parliament.
The way of Carinthia or Kärntner Strasse takes its name from one of the nine Austrian provinces. It is one of the most elegant and lively streets of the city, a strong commercial character. It goes away from the Ring to the St. Stephen's Cathedral. In this way the Vienna State Opera, the Sacher Hotel and Ambassador, the Casinos Austria, the big department stores Galerie Ringstrasse and Steffl, the Church of the Cross and the Maltesa Haashaus.
If you went to Vienna for shopping, no doubt this is the place for you from Starbucks to Swarovski, high-fashion shops and fast-food restaurants, shoe stores, hat shops and souvenir shops. In addition, the way the colors of some performances of improvised way, especially music, and during Christmas is brightly lit when the sun begins to drop.
We continue our peaceful walk with the Jesuit Church, located in the old University District (Universitat Viertel) and is known as the University Church. We advise you to visit it. The outside may seem simple, but it has nothing to do with the interior. We we visited in the afternoon and it was almost dark, and we realized that we returned the next morning to see the light of day, awesome.
It was built between 1623 and 1627, in the place where he was a chapel, when the Jesuits joined their University with the University of Vienna Faculty of Philosophy and Theology. We repeat that although the outside is relatively austere, the interior is very luxurious, with marble columns, gold details and a series of allegorical frescoes in the roof. The roof is divided into four sections with perspective paintings, using techniques of illusion. The remarkable dome trompe l'oeil, created by Andrea Pozzo in 1703 and painted in a flat part of the roof is a masterpiece.
Just next door is the Aula (Great Hall) of the University of Vienna, where he debuted the Seventh Symphony of Beethoven. We started our last morning in Vienna eating breakfast at Cafe Central to visit after the Minoritenkirche (Church of the Franciscans) and returning to the Jesuit Church to see the light of day. During our walk we met two other churches that of Scots (Schotten) and Dominican (Dominikanerkirche).
The Café Central is one of the places you can not miss in Vienna, which is a coffee shop located on the ground floor of a small building of the nineteenth century, where everything is luxurious with quiet, good service, excellent pastries, classical music and architecture. It opened its doors in 1860 and is a neo-Renaissance-style building. It is on the ground floor of the Palais Ferstel (name taken from its architect) and during many years it was a meeting place of the Viennese intellectual class that discussed both of literature of political ideas, but who also organized chess tournaments and other games.
It was closed for a long period of time after the Second World War and reopened its doors in 1975, even if it is in a different place but still inside the building. In 1986, all of its rooms were luxuriously renovated with the appearance that currently have.
The Minoritenkirche (St. Francis Church or St. Mary of the Snow) is very different to the others, is its structure that its interior stand out for their simplicity. It is a Gothic church, rebuilt several times after the destruction of various wars. It belongs to the Franciscans and went there the Italian community of Vienna. It must point out that in its interior there is a couple of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, when he conquered Vienna.
Napoleon decided to hang it in the Belvedere palace, but not taken into account the apparent lack of this building space for a piece of this great art. In the end, the Austrian Emperor Francis I bought the mosaic and put him in Minoritenkirche. It arouses curiosity outside its octagonal tower that looks a bit 'wrong, because that was reduced by the Turks in 1529.
Church of the Scots
The Church of the Scots (Schotten) is a Catholic monastery founded in 1155, when Henry II brought Irish monks in Vienna, although these were not from Ireland but from another Irish monastery in Germany. In 1625, the abbey became part of the Austrian Congregation, within the Benedictine order.
Church of the Dominicans
Our last visit to Vienna excluding the airport was the existing churches of the Dominicans (Dominikanerkirche), built in baroque style, on top of the original XIII century church. Due to the reorganization of the area, the church is located high above the level of the road and its facade has a cloth designed with a statue of the Madonna.
The interior, with a high central nave and deep side chapels, is richly covered with stucco. Under the second chapel on the right, in the crypt is the tomb of Empress Claudia, wife of Leopold I. After this walk we returned to the hotel to get our luggage and went to the airport, as our trip to Vienna was ending.
Vienna is a relatively small and easy city to get around even for tourists as the main attractions are concentrated in the heart of the city. If you're planning a weekend in Vienna here are some practical information and tips to keep in mind to better organize your trip to this beautiful European capital.
How to get to Vienna
By plane: There are several companies that connect various cities in Vienna. There is the national carrier, Austrian Airlines and Air Berlin. To find a low-cost solution we also tried between flights to Bratislava airport served by Ryanair for example, which is 80 km from Vienna and that can be reached by bus or train but we need to see if the game is worth the candle.
By train: There is also the chance to reach Vienna from many European capitals in trains. If you choose this option, in my opinion, it is better to consider the overnight train so as not to waste precious daylight hours to devote to the city. Going to Vienna by train is cost-effective only if you book well in advance being able to take advantage of some offers. If the price goes up, you should definitely go there by plane, which is much more fast.
By car: This was our choice. I must admit that it is not a green solution but having decided at the last minute it was certainly the most economical. The roads are very good.
Getting around Vienna Town
If you feel like doing a little exercise,you could see Vienna on wheels, thanks to the city-bike system. For information on bike rental I recommend you visit the official website Citybikewien or that of the city tourist office. Renting bikes is easy and you can do it on the internet or directly at various Citybike terminals, you see in the city center. However, it is necessary to have a credit card.
And do not forget about your feet. The historic center of Vienna can be visited virtually walking and I think the only way to immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere is its streets. Vienna has an excellent system of public transport. Thanks to their buses, trams and subways, whose schedules are approximately from 5:30 am until midnight. The company that manages them is the Wiener Linien.
There are 22 bus lines that run every 30 minutes, between 12 to 5 and metro lines run 24 hours a day on weekends. On the night of Friday, Saturday and that before a public holiday, the meter operates without interruption, with a frequency of 15 minutes. For the New Year's Eve and New Year, the meter works continuously for 24 hours.
Wochenkarte Tickets can be purchased at tobacconists Tabak-Trafik, in vending machines in subway stations and in many hotels in Vienna. Do not forget to validate your ticket once on the mode of transport. In the tram there are canisters.
The transport subscriptions, are the best choice if you want to spend a few days in and around the city, as subscriptions allow you to use public transport without restriction during the period of validity. They are good for metro, bus and some commuter trains. You can buy them online before you travel. The Vienna metro consists of 5 lines, all underground but also rising to the surface in some places. It is probably the best means of transport for tourists, as it has the stops close to all the interesting places, while, conversely, the tram is quite complicated to use.
The metro works really well and in almost all the stops there are elevators. The schedule of the Metro in Vienna is approximately from 5:00 am to 12:30 pm. The transition frequency of trains is usually every 5 minutes, 2 to 4 minutes during rush hours and every 7-8 minutes after 8:30 pm.
The tram network in Vienna (Straßenbahn) is one of the longest in the world. It counts with more than 30 lines and in some parts of the city flow in underground form. And if the subway with its 5 lines is very to use, to use the tram you have to be sure of where to go and what bus to take.
The lines 1 and 2 are the most useful for tourists, a route around the Ringstrasse, making stops in some of the most charismatic buildings in the city, such as Opera, Hofburg Palace, the Parliament or the Stock Exchange. Vienna Ring Tram is a tourist tram that runs along the Ringstrasse with 13 stops, while providing information in different languages ??about the places visited. It runs every day from 10 am to 6 pm, with intervals of 30 minutes and in July and August until 7 pm.
There are different types of tickets adapted to the different needs of each one. The ticket for this tram is not included in the transport subscriptions. Ring Tram is an interesting option because it provides information about each point of interest, but you can make the same route with trams 1 and 2 so that these are included in Wochenkarte without the relevant information, of course.
The tram schedule is very similar to that of the meter. Although it depends on line to line, generally goes from 5 am to 12 pm. But it is best to consult the time in advance, as some lines only work until 9 pm or there is change of schedule on weekends and holidays.
The bus is the means of transportation that we do not recommend, as through the tram and metro you can arrive at any area more easily. If you decide to take the bus, you have in mind that the ticket is more expensive if you take it directly on the medium.
The only bus which can come in handy are night buses, which are active from 12:30 am to 5:00 am, with a frequency of 30 minutes. The price of these lines is the same as that of daytime bus and the ticket and you can buy it directly on the vehicle, even if it costs less if you buy it before.
The fiaker are the horse-drawn carriages that run through the old city of Vienna to the delight of their passengers. Along the way, the driver wear a traditional bowler hat and suit, and tries to explain some details and curiosities of the places through which they pass, giving a different perspective of the city and helping to understand its true story. The first license was granted in the year 1693 and between 1860 and 1908 becomes a very popular means of transportation, there were over 1,000 cars circulating in the city.
Nowadays fiaker are not many, but it is always possible to find a few dozen around the Hofburg Palace and in some tourist areas of the city. Prices are fixed and depend on the duration of the tour.
If you want to go shopping, remember that in Vienna you will hardly find a shop open on Sundays and especially during the holidays. Also on Saturday the shops close early at 6:30 pm.
If you want to take home something typical from Vienna inevitable are the famous Mozart balls. Souvenir shops and kiosks around the city center will not lose in this case the opportunity to be open even on holidays. But if you're going to get your fill of these chocolates and save some Euros then why not think about it first and go to the supermarket, where its more cheaper.
In Vienna you will find both classic backpacker hostels, the most smart hotels in every star, with those in Tyrolean style to those of design, or you can opt to sleep in apartments. As with all European capitals the choice of where to stay is very large with reasonable prices per night.
Eating in Vienna
Before visiting it, I thought that Vienna was to be a city where eating would be expensive. And although it is true that there are options for all budgets, it is easy to find restaurants and cafes offering menus with reasonable prices. For the most crowded places in the city, both by tourists and its inhabitants, it is common to find houses in the road, where they sell sweets, coffee, sandwiches, shawarmas, frankfurt, pizzas, soft drinks and is the right economic choice for a snack.
There are also plenty of cafes, where you can usually take breakfast or snacks. Vienna likes sweets and windows and refrigerators of the cafes are always full of different kinds of cakes, although excels the famous Sacher cake for chocolate lovers, that of Mozart with sweet pistachio and Apfelstrudel, typical apple pie, which, obviously, you have to try.
The Sacher or Sachertorte in German is a typical chocolate cake of Vienna. It consists of two large chocolate layers separated by a thin layer of apricot jam and covered with dark chocolate icing. The chocolate that covers the cake allows to to be preserved for long periods of time. Curiously, if you ask for a coffee, they always serve without exception with a small glass of water.
It is a real pleasure, at a very affordable price, to have breakfast in some of these cafes. Avoid booking the hotel with breakfast included, which is not only not worth it, but you will miss the experience of having breakfast in places like the Hotel Sacher, perhaps a little collapsed because of its reputation or the Cafe Central and Cafe Schwarzenberg.
Skipping breakfast and snacks at noon, it is not hard to find to eat in the center of Vienna with reasonable prices. Our advice is to compare the cards and menus and choose according to taste. A food you have to eat is Viennese chicken and especially Viennese cutlet. In my life I have never eaten a breaded chicken so tasty, crisp and slightly oily and the portions are so abundant that if you ask for the chicken salad, it is plenty of stuff to eat.
In the most typical restaurants, the normal thing is that the menu is composed of a small appetizer of soup or salad and a hearty main course and a complimentary drink of water, but no dessert or coffee. In short, the center of Vienna, offer an impressive imperial aspect, and is also a good place that has lots of places to enjoy the city's cuisine and pastry. We have mentioned some of the cafes and restaurants, but there are many others where you can choose to have breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack at any time of the day.
Weekend in Vienna - leading free attractions
There are numerous palaces and castles, and there then are the more contemporary ones such as Kunsthaus, Wagner and Klimt. In Vienna, there are also many museums, with more than 100 to visit. It will be very tough to see all the sights of Vienna in one weekend, but you should not miss the Vienna Klimt. Although most of Vienna's museums are open on Sunday, most of the doors open at 10 am and close very soon with the last admission at 5 pm. Each museum has then a day off, others are free for children up to 19 years and many are those that offer free admission on certain days, such as the first Sunday of the month, or evening openings.
To take advantage of the immense artistic and cultural heritage of this city its better to be clear before you leave on the attractions you want to visit.