Beautiful Vienna on the Danube
Sightseeing in the lovely capital of Austra
Vienna is the capital of the Republic of Austria and one of the most visited cities in Europe. The city sits on the banks of the Danube River. It is an important commercial and cultural hub.
Schonbrunn Palace is a lovely 18th-century palace in a park-like setting. The Baroque palace has over 1,441 rooms and apartments, among them those used by Empress Maria Theresa. The highlights here are the Imperial Apartments including Emperor Joseph's Walnut Room and his Bedroom. In Empress Maria Theresa's rooms, you can see her garden apartments and the Breakfast Room with floral artwork created by her daughters.
Schonbrunn Park and Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has beautiful Baroque gardens.
The Hofburg was the seat of the Habsburgs for over six centuries and the official residence of every Austrian ruler since 1275. Today it is the official seat of the Austrian President. This vast complex has eighteen groups of buildings, among them nineteen courtyards and 2,600 rooms. Among the highlights are the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Silver Collection. Informative guided tours in English are available.
Kunisthistorisches Museum displays the art collections of the Hapsburg royal family. The museum has an excellent Dutch art collection with the world's largest collection of artwork by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, including his masterpiece Tower of Babel. There are paintings by Raphael, Titian, Bellini, Caravaggio, and Vermeer, and portraits by Velazquez. Highlights at the museum include late Italian Renaissance, Baroque, and Flemish artwork. English-language guided tours are available. Relax at the museum cafe with its elegantly decorated walls and ceilings.
The museum overlooks Maria-Theresien Platz with the grand monument to Empress Maria Theresa. The monument depicts the Empress upon her throne surrounded by major personages of her day. The high reliefs depict important figures from the field of politics, economics, and the arts among them Haydn, Gluck, and Mozart.
Belvedere Palace is among the most popular attractions in Vienna. It consists of two Baroque buildings – the Lower Belvedere and the Upper Belvedere. Among the highlights here are the Upper Palace including the Ground Floor Hall with statues, and the Ceremonial Staircase with rich stucco relief and frescoes. The Marble Hall features period sculptures, paintings, and ceiling frescoes.
The Marble Hall at the Lower Belvedere also includes a Marble Gallery with a collection of historic statues.
Other buildings to see at the palace are the Winter Palace, a Baroque building that once housed the Court Treasury, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables, home to the Medieval Treasury.
You can stroll in the Belvedere Gardens and see the fountains which link the two palaces.
Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere is an art museum in the Belvedere Palace. It is known for its art collections including sculptures and panel paintings from the 12th to the 16th centuries. It is best known for The Kiss, a painting by Austrian Symbolist artist Gustav Klimt and a masterpiece of early modern art.
The Vienna Zoo is also called the Schonbrunn Zoo. It was founded in 1752 and is the oldest continually operating zoo in the world. The zoo is impressive with many Baroque buildings. Among the highlights here are the giant pandas, including cubs, and the interactive Rainforest House and Aquarium. Enjoy the cafe in the original 18th-century Imperial Breakfast Pavilion.
The Albertina Museum has collections of modern art and examples of various schools and movements including French impressionists, Vienna secessionists, and the Russian avant-garde. Here you can see artworks by Chagall, Picasso, Cezanne, Degas, Magritte, Vlaminck, Modigliani, Klimt, Munch, Kandinsky, Münter, Miró, Brach, and Ernst. Altogether, the museum has a collection of more than a million artworks as well as more than 65,000 drawings. The museum is housed in the city's largest residential palace during the Habsburg monarchy. This is one of the most beautiful neo-Classical palaces in Europe. Guided tours in English are available.
The Vienna State Opera House has hosted many of the world's most prominent composers, conductors, soloists, and dancers. The most wonderful opera and ballet performances are staged here. The opera house was built in 1869 in the French Early Renaissance style. The highlights of the interior include a grand staircase leading to the first floor, the Schwind Foyer, with paintings of famous opera scenes, and the Tea Room with valuable tapestries. It is home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The House of Music lets visitors take a look into sound and music through interactive displays and demonstrations.
St. Stephen's Cathedral is the most important Gothic edifice in Vienna. It has been the cathedral church of the archbishopric since 1722. The original 12th-century Romanesque church was replaced in the 13th century with another construction in the Gothic style in the 14th century. St. Elgius, St. Tirna, and St. Catherine chapels were added.
The famous South Tower, at 137-meters high, was added in the 15th century. Among the highlights here is climbing the 343 steps to Steffl's Watch Room for fantastic views, and the North Tower is home to the massive Pummerin Bell. There is a lift you can take to the viewing platform. English language tours are available.
The Weiner Rathaus or City Hall is located in the heart of the historic Innere Stadt. It overlooks the Rathausplatz. This is an impressive neo-Gothic building and is notable for its famous Rathausmann on top of the 98-meter-high tower. This is an iron figure carrying a banner, and was presented to the city as a gift from its master locksmith. At the center of the building is an arcaded courtyard, which is the largest of seven courtyards used for popular summer concerts. Guided tours are available. Among the highlights is the Schmidt Halle, the large entrance, two Grand Staircases leading to the Assembly Hall, and the Heraldic Rooms.
The Wiener Prater or the Parter is a large natural park between the Danube and the Danube Canal. This vast park was once a royal hunting ground and is one of the most popular recreation areas in Vienna. Here you'll find old-fashioned theme park rides, a dinosaur-themed park for children, and places to dine and dance. Among the highlights is the famous Giant Wheel, a Viennese landmark providing awesome views over the city since 1896. There is the Prater Ziehrer Monument, a larger-than-life statue of composer CM Ziehrer from 1960. You can learn about the park's history at the Prater Museum. Enjoy the Planetarium and the Liliputbahn miniature steam railroad.
Danube Park is a wide open space park with horseback riding, swimming in the stadium pool, and recreation like football, cycling, tennis, and bowls. Among the highlights are Lake Iris, an artificial lake, a fun miniature railroad, and a theater.
The Spanish Riding School dates back to the time of Emperor Maximilian II. The riding school was established after the ruler introduced the famous Lipizzaner horse to his courtesans in 1562. This is one of the leading riding schools in the world. Audiences enjoy the fabulous displays of equestrian skills in the Baroque Winter Riding School on the grounds of the Hofburg Palace. You can get a behind-the-scenes tour and a visit to the stables. You can relax at the on-site cafe.
Capuchin Church is dedicated to Our Lady of Angels. It is best known for its Imperial Vault containing the remains of 145 members of the Habsburg family. The nine vaults are arranged in chronological order. Among the highlights is the Founder's Vault, the final resting place of Emperor Matthias and Empress Anna. There is also the Maria Theresa Vault, a domed chamber with a double sarcophagus in the Rococo style. Along the sides are numerous reliefs that depict scenes from Maria Theresa's life.
Leopold Museum has a large collection of artworks by leading Austrian modern artists like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.
The Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation MUMOK features over 10,000 contemporary and modern artworks by renowned artists like Picasso and Warhol.
The Collegial and Parish Church of St. Peter was modeled after St. Peter's in Rome, Italy. The present edifice was built in the 18th century and has a massive dome with a fantastic fresco and many artistic treasures. Among the highlights are the Barbara Chapel, the choir with its High Altar, and the painting of the Immaculate Conception.
The Abbey of the Scots was built in the 12th century and has a collection of artwork from the 16th and 19th centuries.
St. Charles Church was built in 1737 and is dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, a saint invoked during the plague. It is the most important Baroque religious building in Vienna. The church has a 72-meter dome and is known for its Triumphal Pillars at 33-meters and based on Trajan's Column in Rome, Italy. Their spiraling bands depict scenes from the life of St. Charles. The church has a regular concert program.
The Danube Tower stands 252 meters tall and is the tallest structure in Austria. The telecommunication tower is among the most important attractions. It offers great views of the city and the Danube. An elevator takes you to the observation deck at 150-meters. In the tower are two restaurants that offer world-class dining and incredible views.
Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment block that was designed by painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It is a brightly colored landmark standing on the corner of Lowengasse and Kegelstrasse. The occupied 53 units are home to artists, intellectuals, and creative types.
Looking at Vienna from the observation towers, the city appears to have two rivers running through it. What you are seeing is the Danube River, and running parallel to it is a canal known as the Donaukanal. They are separated by a stretch of land known as Danube Island. The island is accessible by water taxi or bridge. It is a great place to take strolls along the Danube. Recreational activities here include biking, rollerblading, canoeing, and kayaking. You can go swimming at one of the many beaches here. The island also hosts the annual Donauinselfest, Europe's biggest open-air festival, every September.
The Parliament Building was completed in 1883. It was used by Imperial and Provincial delegations. It has many Greek influences like Corinthian columns. There are many marble statues and reliefs. One of the highlights here is the Pallas Athene Fountain, a four-meter-high statue with a gilded helmet and lance, as well as figures that symbolize the rivers Danube, Inn, Elbe, and Moldau. English language tours are available.
Karntner Strasse is the most elegant street in Vienna. It links Stephensplatz to the Staasoper on the Ring and ends at Karlsplatz, a pedestrian-friendly area with lime trees, pavement cafes, fashionable shops, elegant boutiques, and shopping arcades.
The Burgtheater is Vienna's outstanding National Theater. It is known for its productions of German-language plays and performances. The outside of the theater has decorative figures, scenes, and busts. The interior has rich decoration in the French Baroque style and a staircase with frescoes by Gustav and Ernst Klimt. Guided tours in English are available.