Last weekend we flew to the Austrian capital for a quick two-day trip. The sunny, warm weather was a welcomed change from the rainy, cool April in London. We delighted in the 75°F (24°C) temperatures so much that we found it difficult to leave.
The one word I would use to describe Vienna is clean—meticulously clean. The architecturally rich city center mixes both past and present effortlessly. It is a pleasant city with a laid-back vibe.
Much of Vienna’s past history (and Austria’s for that matter) surrounds the mighty Habsburg Empire, which lasted 640 years. The Habsburg reign began in 1278 and ended in 1918 at the end of World War I. This illustrious family lived in two palatial palaces in Vienna, one for winter and one for summer.
Hofburg Palace, in the city center, was once the grand, winter residence of the Habsburgs. The tour of this stately complex includes the Imperial Apartments (Kaiserappartements), Sisi Museum (Empress Elisabeth, known as Sisi, was the wife of Emperor Franz Josef), and a look through the impressive Imperial Silver Collection.
Hofburg Palace continues to be a seat of power, as it is home to the office of the President of Austria.
Located behind the Hofburg is the Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule) of the Lipizzaner Stallions—the famous Habsburg court horses. The Lipizzaner breed dates back to the 16th century. Visitors can watch these beautiful creatures strut their stuff during, often sold-out, public performances.
The sumptuous 1,441-room Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg family. Due to time constraints, we did not tour the inside of this one but wandered around the vast palace gardens instead and enjoyed the pristine surroundings as well as the warm weather. Below are some photos of this massive estate…
Kevin and I are happy to report that we made it through the maze…after only a couple dead-end turns.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), with its Gothic spire and ornately patterned roof tiles, is one of Vienna’s iconic landmarks. Consecrated in 1147, the church has undergone several expansions over the years and survived many wars. The cathedral’s catacombs contain some of the internal organs of the Habsburg royal family.
As one of the world’s finest cities for classical music, a trip to Vienna wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Vienna State Opera (Staatsoper). I can’t say that k&mk are avid opera-goers, but it was a great experience to attend Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlos—even if it was for only 45 minutes in the €4 standing area “cheap seats”…it was well worth it.
Thank you Vienna for the perfect weather! We enjoyed our visit.