Vienna is the crown jewel of the Hapsburg Empire and was built to rule half of Europe, with sprawling palaces, magnificent gardens, heroic statues, and ornate fountains. Today’s Vienna, a huge city, with no Empire to rule, is steeped more in nostalgia than in glory. Half the people in Vienna are over 60, and most of the rest, it seems, are tourists. It is a major art and music capital of the world. During this writer’s return visit in 1991, the people had changed. They appeared to be very cold ( but not rude) , and totally indifferent, even to each other.
TRANSPORTATION: Subway and trams… very efficient. The subway is called STADTBAHN. Tobacco shops sell booklets of discount tickets for all public transportation. Buy a book of 5 tickets and save. There is also a 3 DAY TICKET, available at the Railway Station, the airport, and the Karlplatz Metro Station.
THE HOFBURG: Mon-Sat 8:30-12,12:30-4:30. Sun 8:30-12. Tram 1,2,D,J. This was the official residence of the Hapsburgs and was built between the 13th and 20th centuries in every conceivable architectural style. It’s an enormous complex of buildings bounded by vast parks. THE SWISS COURT is the oldest part of the palace. THE GOTHIC ROYAL CHAPEL is where the Vienna Boys’ Choir sings. ST. AUGUSTINE’S CHURCH has the LORETO CHAPEL with its famous “heart crypt” of 54 urns with the hearts of the Hapsburgs in them. THE SCHATZKAMMER contains imperial and religious treasures. THE IMPERIAL ROOMS are the rooms of Franz Joseph and Czar Alexander I of Russia. THE NEUE HOFBURG houses the world’s second largest collection of armor. THE SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL is where the famous Lippizaner horses perform. No performances in July and August, but you can visit the school and the stables.
THE KUNSTHISTORES: This Museum of Fine Arts is located at I Maria Theresien Platz, across from the Hofburg. Tram 1,2,,52,58,D,J. to Burgring. Tue-Sun 10-6. Tue-Fri 10-9. Closed Monday. The major collection is on the second floor… and is fabulous at many points … Vermeer’s ARTIST IN HIS STUDIO, rooms filled with Rubens, Rembrandt, Breughel, and excellent Holbeins, Durers, Van Eycks, Titian, and Caravaggio. On the first floor is a collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, along with the world’s largest collection of tapestries. The main attraction on this floor is Cellini’s SALT CELLAR, made for Francis I.
THE RING: The central area of Vienna, surrounded by streets such as Stuben Ring, Opera Ring, etc. It’s a pedestrian zone.
THE GRABEN: The major shopping street with Baroque fountains and fancy shops.
STEPHENS: Daily 8-5. This Cathedral is the focal point of Vienna and has the highest steeple. It was founded in the 12th century and is Gothic in style, with some Romanesque elements. Visit the CRYPT for the ornate tombs. About 10 years ago some demented architect built an extremely modern building across from St. Stephens. This building is completely covered in a mosaic of mirrors. It’s totally out of place.
SCHONBRUNN: Take tram 52, or 58 from anywhere along Mariahilferstrasse to Schonbrunnerstrasse and Grunbergstrasse… 15 minutes. The tram lets you off at the side entrance to the Palace grounds. The grounds are open from 8-8, and are glorious…classical stone arches on the highest point … excellent views … the Neptune Fountain … artificial Roman Ruins … and the largest hothouse in Europe. To see the palace, you must wait for an English speaking guide to take you through …@ 8:3 0-5. This is the summer palace of the Hapsburgs, who are prohibited, by law, from entering Austria today. The palace was begun in 1695 by Emperor Leopold I, but the greatest impact was left by Empress Maria Therese, who managed to have 16 children, run the country, fight a war, and still find time to decorate and re-design this palace … finishing it in 1749. It is virtually intact, as she left it. Outstanding rooms … Chinese, Napoleon, Porcelain, Guest, and the famous Millions Room, which is a highly ornate Rococo design.
OPERA HOUSE: This is one of the world’s most splendid Opera House. The season lasts from September thru the end of June. The city of ZAGREB in Yugoslavia, loved this structure too much, that they made an exact copy in their city.
THE PRATER: The famous amusement park of Vienna which is best known for its huge ferris wheel … the largest in the world. No admission to the grounds. There are cheap beer gardens and restaurants throughout the park. Take bus AK or BK from the “Ring”.
ZENTRALFRIEDHOF (CENTRAL CEMETERY): Take tram 71 from Schwarzenburg Platz and get off at the next to the last stop. Located at 234 Simmeringer Hauptstrasse. Within feet of each other are the graves of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Strausse… along with the most ornate headstones you’ll ever see.
BELVEDERE PALACE: Prinz Eugen Strasse 27. Tue-Sun 10-5. This is a light, airy, Baroque Palace built between 1714 and 1723 as a summer residence for Austria’s beloved Prince Eugen. UPPER BELVEDERE PALACE is the more formal and lavish…and was used for state occasions and for guests. It’s now a gallery for 19-20th century art. Beautiful views of Vienna from the top floor. LOWER BELEVEDERE PALACE is across the beautiful sculpture garden and is where the Prince lived. It is now the MUSEUM OF AUSTRIAN BAROQUE. Tram D.
CRYPTS OF THE HAPSBURGS: Located in KAPUZINER CHURCH near the Albertina and behind the Opera House … 2 Tegetthoffstrasse. Daily 9:30-4:00. KAISERGRUFT or Royal Crypts in this church date back 300 years.
COMPOSERS MONUMENTS AND ROOMS: Monuments are located everywhere, but the loveliest are in the STADTPARK. The memorial rooms are not recommended unless you are really into music, because they are plain and simple. BEETHOVEN … 8 Moelkerbastei, home of the composer. SCHUERT … 54 Nussdorferstrass, birthplace of the composer. MOZART … 5 Domgasse, relics of the composer.
ALBERTINA MUSEUM: Located at I Augustinerstrasse. The world’s largest collection of prints. Many are on display … while others are represented by reproductions. If you want to see a particular print, they will bring it to you.
ACADEMY OF ART: Classic Paintings. Located at 3 Schiller Platz.
JARHUNDERTS MUSEUM: Modern art. Located in the Schweizergarten.
SIGMUND FREUD MUSEUM: 19 Berggasse. 9-4 PM. Ring the bell, push door. This is the former home of the father of psychiatry. Tram D to Schlickgrasse.
WATCH MUSEUM: 2 Schulhof. Charming and interesting … if you have “the time”.
AUSTRIAN MUSEUM OF MILITARY HISTORY: I8 Objekt. Take the tram to Sudbahnhof and then a short walk. Contains the automobile in which Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated … bringing on WWI … and his bloodstained uniform, plus countless mementos of Austrian generals.
KARLENBERG HILL: For a complete and panoramic view of Vienna and the Danube.
EXCURS1ON TRAlN TO MELK: Free with Eurail. Visit the famous MONASTERY. Return by boat (also free with Eurail) on the Danube at 4 PM. Arrives back in Vienna at 8 PM. The scenery along the Danube is great.
TOURS TO VIENNA FOREST TO MAYERLING … are available…brochures at your hotel.
MUSEUM M0DERNER KUNST: Liechtenstein Palace, Furstengasse 1. International modern works by Warhol, Klee, Kandinsky. Wed-Mon 10-6. Tram D to Furstengsse.
BEETHOVEN HOUSE … Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. Tram 1,2 or D to Schottentor.
HAYDEN HOUSE…Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. Tram 52,58. Haydngasse 19.
MOZART HOUSE … Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. ()I or U3 to Stephansplatz. Domgasse 5.
SCHUERT HOUSE … Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4-30. S to Nussdorfer Strasse, #54.
STRAUSS HOUSE … Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. U to Nestroyplatz. Praterstrasse 54