The next stop on our tour was Vienna. We had a morning tour of the city, then had the afternoon on our own.
We wandered around the Hofburg palace for a while, which was the Habsburg’s winter residence.
We got to go past the stables of the famous Lipizzaner horses, but as they were out for a performance, all we saw was the rear end of a single horse in the stables. So instead of a Lipizzan stallion, I’ll show you this lion statue, which guards the palace:
I love statues, and of course, Europe is filled with them. Statues, fountains, gargoyles and building adornments. All such magnificent works of art. One in particular caught my eye – the fountain behind the Vienna Opera building:
I couldn’t help but think of Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball. Perhaps this was her inspiration?
The historic center of Vienna is street after street lined with magnificent palaces. It’s a bit overwhelming.
And of course, there are the churches and the cathedral. It’s a common tourist joke to refer to “ABC”… Another Bloody Church. It’s true that you do tend to suffer from cathedral overload after seeing a few. As magnificent as each one is, after a while, they tend to be just more of the same. But still, I always feel a sense of awe when I walk into one. Just the sheer size alone is amazing, especially when you consider how long ago they were built.
This is St. Stephen’s Cathedral, with an interesting multi-colored tile roof (which you can’t really see well in this photo):
And a photo of the interior. If you’ll notice at the very bottom of the photo, you might see the tops of some people’s heads. That might possibly give you an idea of just how huge the building is:
But as it turns out, we stumbled upon a church that we liked even better. The Jesuit Church. It’s fairly plain on the outside, and the interior is adorned mostly with paint and frescoes rather than expensive woodwork or statues, but it was lovely. It had some interesting spiral columns (you can see one in this photo about 1/3 across from the right edge), and painted ceiling that looks like a dome, but is actually flat.
But of course, we didn’t spend all our time in churches. We made sure to stop at a coffee house for coffee and pastries (they even had a gluten free cake), and a bit of lunch later in the afternoon.
And in the evening, we had the pleasure of attending a concert by the Vienna Residence Orchestra at the Palais Auersperg, which was built in 1710. Mozart and Haydn had actually performed in that very room! It was a chamber orchestra along with some opera singers and ballet dancers. The solo violinist, Alan Vizvary, was playing a 1716 Stradivarius violin (“Milstein”). The soprano, Alicia O’Neill was from the U.S. It was a fun concert – the acoustics were excellent. The first half was Mozart, and the second half was Strauss. At intermission we had a glass of sparkling wine. The concert was kind of on the short side (which was good since we were tired), but it was just long enough to keep our interest. This was the first performance where they were using the Stradivarius, and the performance was being filmed for some sort of show.
We barely scratched the surface of Vienna – it would have been nice to have had the chance to see some of the museums and tour the Opera House. We didn’t go see the Schönbrunn Palace (the Habsburg summer residence), which was an optional tour, because it would have taken up the whole afternoon and we wanted to spend some time on our own. But I heard it was spectacular.
If you haven’t had enough of Vienna, here are more photos.
All posts for this vacation can be found with this tag: Europe2013