Photo of the Week – Beethoven’s Residence in Vienna

This week's photo takes me back to my trip to Vienna. It is of the stone plaque that commemorates Beethoven's residence in Vienna.

Though German by birth Beethoven ended living in Vienna for the majority of his life. He is buried in the Zentralfriedhoff.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Advertisements

Vienna – A Reflection

I am pleased to admit that my second visit to Vienna was more successful than my previous one. At least I avoided getting food poisoning and I also managed to get to see more of the city.

Vienna as a city has always held a fascination for me.  I love history and art. The reason for my first visit was to see the ‘Madonna del Prato’ by Raphael. Sure enough I managed to get off my sick-bed to get to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. However, I left Vienna I felt that there was some unfinished business.

During the four days I spent in Vienna I managed to get to see the following:

St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial
The Roman Ruins
The Roman Ruins
The Hofburg
The Hofburg
The Naschmarkt
The Naschmarkt
Zentralfriedhof
Zentralfriedhof
Vienna at Night
Vienna at Night
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace

I felt that I managed to experience a lot more of what Vienna has to offer. Yet there was still more that I wanted to see.

Overall, I loved my time in Vienna with its history, sights and smells. It is a city while a capital city still felt small enough to explore by foot and getting yourself lost. To experience an authentic Viennese coffee shop was a joy or experiencing the busker playing the cello outside the Hofburg on a cold Saturday night. These are the memories that never go away.

Yes, Vienna can be expensive but with careful planning there are bargains out there. Sometimes the best experiences are free. Would I visit again? The simple answer is yes. If Vienna is good enough for me then it will be good enough for you.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Vienna Card – A Review

Like all major cities Vienna offers a discount card to all visitors to help the budget conscious traveller. The Vienna Card costs €19.90. It lasts for 72 hours and it entitles you to more than 200 discounts across the city.

The major discount would be the free travel on public transport for the 72 hour period. You are also entitled to discounts on major museums and attractions such as the Hofburg and Schonbrunn Palace. However, the discount is only between 10-20%. You also receive discounts for restaurants and shopping up to 20%.

The problem with the Vienna Card is that to get value out of it you will have to cram a lot in the 72 hours. Especially with the museums. You could end up running through and not really appreciating the exhibits. This could lead to a case of museum fatigue. Personally I like to take my time when visiting museums and art galleries to take everything in. Also most museums and galleries are only open from 9-5.

To get the most out of the card I suggest that you carefully plan your 72 hours and stick to that plan. Otherwise if you want to take your time and visit the occasional museum but still want to take advantage of free travel then I would recommend that you purchase a 72 hour public transport ticket. This currently costs €14.50.

In short I felt that the Vienna Card will represent value with planning but it may not suit everybody including myself.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Schönbrunn Palace – Vienna

The Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most visited attractions in Vienna.  In 2011 it attracted over 2½ million visitors. Schönbrunn literally means ‘beautiful spring’. The palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs.

Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace

My visit took place in March but I could why it is so popular. There were plenty of visitors from all around the world. Visiting on a Sunday meant it felt full and there was some queuing involved. A visit to the Schönbrunn consists of two areas. The palace itself and the gardens.

The Entrance to the Palace.
The Entrance to the Palace.

When touring the palace be aware that you may be hearing the information through the audio guide as you heard in the Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg. Also you are unable to take any photographs. In fact you are not allowed to take any bags into the palace. The tour itself was fascinating and there were some interesting exhibits. However, I felt it do not last too long and was value for money.

My mood changed when I went into the gardens.  This is the real attraction of the Schönbrunn. Despite it being March and weather was a little chilly the gardens looked magnificent. I must have spent at least three exploring.  There were paths leading off to the zoo and woods.  When you climb the hill towards the Gloriette you are treated to splendid views. I found myself taking plenty of photographs.

View of Schönbrunn from the Gloriette
View of Schönbrunn from the Gloriette
The Gardens
The Gardens

I made my way up to the Gloriette. Maybe it is just me but I was disappointed to see it used as a cafe.

The Gloriette
The Gloriette

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to the Schönbrunn Palace, especially the gardens. Sure they would look better in the summer but I feel that it could be too crowded to enjoy. I was glad that I visited in March.

Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna

http://www.schoenbrunn.at/en

Nearest U-bahn station – Schönnbrunn

Classic Pass Plus €21.50 (€19.70 with Vienna Card)

Classic Pass €18.50 (€16.70 with Vienna Card)

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Zentralfriedhof – Vienna

I know it is an unusual place to visit but I find cemeteries fascinating places to visit because they are full of history. Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) falls into that category.

The Dr. Karl Lueger-Gedächtniskirche
The Dr. Karl Lueger-Gedächtniskirche

Opened in 1874 the cemetery became unique in Vienna as one of the first multi-faith. This was very controversial at the time in a very catholic country. It is now one of the largest cemeteries in Europe. It has become renowned as the final resting place for the following people:

Brahms
Brahms
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
Schubert
Schubert
Beethoven
Beethoven
Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
Curd Jürgens
Curd Jürgens

There is also a memorial to this composer who was buried in a umarked grave.

Mozart
Mozart

What I found touching were the simple family monuments that had been looked after over the years.

If you are still wandering whether you should visit the Zentralfriedhof may I remind you one of the reasons why cemeteries were established. They were the original green spaces where people could escape from the city. In that respect it does the job as you can escape  with no problem. The quietness and stillness really contrasts with the bustle of Vienna city centre. It made me think of my own mortality and remember the people who I have lost in my life. It also serves as a reminder that life is short and we should make the most of it.

IMG_0026
Three musical greats.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

Stadtpark – Vienna

Vienna is renowned for its parks. One of my favourites was the Stadtpark. Dating from the 19th Century it is popular with both locals and tourists.

 

Inside the park there are monuments to the composers Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert and Robert Stolz amongst others. In fact the Stadtpark is home to the largest number of sculptures and monuments than anywhere else in Vienna.

 

 

 

There are plenty of chances to admire the plants in the park throughout the year. However, visiting in March meant there was little to see in regards to flowers. There were plenty of birds swimming in the lake. It always relaxing to see them swimming carefree.

 

Stadtpark is the perfect place to visit if you are looking to escape the bustle of Vienna. I would suggest an ideal spot to have a picnic lunch when the weather is warm.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

 

Hofburg Palace Museums, Vienna

The Hofburg Palace was once home to the Habsburg Family who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is now home to the President of Austria.

The reason for my visit was to look was the chance to see the three museums that are located inside.  They are ‘The Imperial Silver Collection”, Sisi Museum and “Imperial Apartments.”

Before entering I would recommend that you take a walk around the building. Whatever the weather or time of day it is a magnificent structure to view. Sadly my photographs does not do it any justice.

Hofburg Palace
Hofburg Palace
The Hofburg at Night
The Hofburg at Night

Imperial Silver Collection

This is home to a collection of dining services, glassware and silverware. There are certainly impressive collections of china that have been accumulated from around the world. I suspect that a lot of the pieces were used only sparingly. The most impressive exhibit must be the ‘Milan Centrepiece,’ It stands at thirty metres long. There is also the Grand Vermeil Service which could serve up to 140 people at one sitting. The collection is a perfect opportunity to take photographs as you marvel at the opulence of the Habsburgs.

Milan Centrepiece
Milan Centrepiece
Grand Vermeil Service
Grand Vermeil Service
Impressive piece of china
Impressive piece of china

Sisi Museum

Next up is the Sisi Museum. This is dedicated to the Empress Elisabeth who is a revered figure in Austria. This may be down to the tragic way here life ended. The museum revolves around Sisi’s private life and contains plenty of personal artefacts belonging to her. Sadly, you are unable to photograph any of the exhibits.

What the Sisi Museum does well is that it is not a shrine to the Empress but will point out all her flaws. The impression that I was left of her was that she was a vain selfish person towards the end of her life who neglected her husband and country while she went off on her travels. I suppose the nearest person who I compare her with is Princess Diana.

The Imperial Apartments

The final museum to visit is the Imperial Apartments. These were the private apartments of the Habsburgs. It is the chance to see the offices, private quarters and bedrooms. Like the Sisi Museum you are unable to take any photographs.

I found the museums to be of good value especially if you hold a Vienna Card. You will get a discount of between 7-9% off the normal admission charge. It is the perfect opportunity to surround yourself in the decadence of the Habsburgs.

Hofburg Vienna, Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna.

Nearest U-bahn stop – Herrengasse U3 line (Orange)

Opening Hours 09:00-17:30 (September – June), 09:00-18:00 (July – August)

Admission with audio guide €11.50, with Vienna Card €10.50

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna

One of the best attractions in Vienna is St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  It is the most important religious building in Austria.  There has been a church on the site since the 12th century.

P1000006

When you arrive do not be surprised to see a lot of scaffolding and cloth covering the building.  This is due to pollution turning the limestone exterior black.  Restoration is currently underway.  There is a scale model outside where you can get a perspective of what the cathedral looks like.

Model of the cathedral.
Model of the cathedral.

First thing to do is tour the outside of the cathedral.  There are plenty of photo opportunities.

P1000020

P1000008

Inside the cathedral you can purchase an all-inclusive guide tour.  This costs €12.90 and includes an audio guide, a tour of the Catacombs and access to climb both the North and South Tower.  The tour of the cathedral with the audio guide follows a set path with twelve points of interest.  This takes about one hour to complete.  This tour can be purchased at a cost of €5.00.

Wiener Neustädter Alter
Wiener Neustädter Alter
Tomb of Emperor Frederick III
Tomb of Emperor Frederick III

The Catacombs can be toured separately for €5.00. Also known as the Ducal Crypt it holds the bodies and internal organs of over 70 members of the Habsburg family. The tour lasted for 30 minutes. Photography is not allowed.

I would love to tell you about the North and South Towers.  However, I was visiting on Friday and the cathedral was closed for a lunchtime service.  I could use my ticket for later on in the day.  But I missed out as later in the evening as another service was taking place.  My tip is to avoid visiting on Friday and Sunday.

Until the next post stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.

Steve