actually it is just the entrance of this church but I really liked that...
Michaelenkirche is a salvatorian church and it used to be the main funeral church of the famous Austrian personalities. Nowadays it is also the cultural center. The church itself stands here probably from 13th century simultaneosly with the old castle of Hofburg. Time to time there were renovations and enlargements and in 1792 there appeared also the sculpture "Falling of angels" from Lorenzo Matielli.
In the underground there are around 250 of wooden, metal or stoned coffins. As a rarity there you can see the dead pregnant woman and the sillhouettes of her baby inside. Maybe a little morbid but it is part of the history because as I said it was used for burials and funerals.
People, would you belive that this square was used to be a race? Emperor Maximillian II used it on this purpose around 1525. Funny man :) probably if he would live now there should be a formula ring.... but seriously...
The inner square of castle Hofburg was later used as the hall where cultural and social events took place. Nowadays there is a parking lot and in the middle of it is the monument dedicated to emperor Franz II from the year 1846 where is engraved a part of his testament: "My love to my nations".
Favorite thing: Lorenzo Mattielli (1688-1748) created four monumental sculptures of the Labors of Hercules to adorn the central gateway from Michaelerplatz into the heart of the Hofburg Complex. (Mattielli also created the sculptural grouping on the facade of St. Michael's Church opposite - see the photo on my Michaelerkirche page.) I'm not sure which of the Labors this figure is meant to represent - could it be Hercules' battle with the Hydra? Incidentally, one of Hercules' adventures reportedly brought him north from Greece up to the Danube River. In 18th century iconography, the Habsburg Dynasty often identified itself with the great Hercules - or rather, the Habsburgs wished to be associated with the great fearless hero.
Favorite thing: We did quite a bit of walking when we were in Vienna. While we U-Bahn-ed it to St Stephens, we walked for miles afterwards. The architecture is beautiful along the way. As we walked towards the Hofburg we were amazed at the orante scultures all around and teh beautiful churches. Find a map and take a walk, it's the best way around.
The Hofburg, a magnificant complex collection of buildings that take up about 59 acres and since almost every ruler stopping there has made additions, you can see represented many styles such as Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo. Classicism and the style of the early 1870’s.
Until 1918 this was the seat of government. Now it is a complex of museums recording the life and times throughout it's history.
If you do decide to stop for a fantastic historical experience, remember to take a break and have a sweet at Demel which has it's shop near.
The Prunksaal (Memorial hall) of the National Library is a must-see for all book-lovers, perhaps the most brilliantly executed Baroque library in the world. It was designed by the ubiquitous Viennese architect Johann Fischer von Erlach during the reign of Emperor Charles VI in the early 18th century. It's a bibliophile's heaven - a palace for books. (If I close my eyes, I can recapture in my mind's nose that wonderful smell of old mauscripts.) There are usually exhibits here displaying some of the library's most treasured possessions. My poor camera could not possibly capture the splendour of the Prunksaal, so this is actually a postcar image.
Fondest memory: The entrance to the Prunksaal is at the Karlsplatz, just beyond the equestrian statue of Joseph II.
The Hofburg is a city within a city: it's where the royal palace used to be and - basically - it's the royal quarter. Here you can see, one next to the other, several sights of interest. The best knows is the winter palace of the royal familt, but the Hoburg is much more than this.
Fondest memory: The Hofburg is also several museums, a chapel, a church, the national Library and the place where the Spanish horse-riding school is located. What I liked about it most is the architecture: there are some really fine examples of several styles - which are among the best one can see. Six hundred years of monarchy have obviously left an evidence trace, here.
Favorite thing: Also known as the Royal Castle, the palace has been the residence of Austria's ruling family since the 13th century. Since 1918, has served various purposes under the Republic of Austria, and is today the president's official seat.
Fondest memory: This is south wing of Wiener Burg and it is built in Neo-Baroque ''Ringstrasse style''. Nowdays it houses a part of Kunsthistorisches Museum… On the right of the picture you can see the Prince Eugene Monument.
The Imperial Eagle, the two headed Eagle, I saw all around Vienna.
Eagles "Lords of the air" Habsburg Monarchy "Lords of a Kingdom."
Eagles are often chosen as they are a symbol of power, but why add the second head?
This puzzled me, and now I know the answer.
The Byzantine Empire was who added a second head to the originally one-headed Roman eagle. The black eagle on a gold shield became the symbol of the title of King as well as of the Empire.
It was introduced to distinguish the Royal from the Imperial title. The king, who was voted in by the electors, attained the title of emperor solely by being blessed and crowned by the Pope in Rome. Only then did he have the right of taking the double headed eagle as symbol of universal claim to power over Latin Christendom. Later, a halo was put around the two heads, this was seen as a symbol of the sacred elevation of Imperial majesty.
The Habsburg Emperor adopted the Imperial double-headed Eagle, added a heraldy shield with the coat of arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine and the Austrian imperial crown.
Favorite thing: Lorenzo Mattielli (1688-1748) created a series of Herculean sculptures that decorate the Hoburg, both in Michaelerplatz and In der Burg. His work can also be seen at the Karlskirche and in Melk. He must have been a very busy guy.
Visit the buildings making up the Hofburg (Imperial Palace). Heldenplatz (Heroes Square), Neue Hofburg (New Imperial Palace), Schwizerhof (Swiss Courtyard), Alte Burg (Old Castle), Reichskanzleitrakt (Imperial Chancellery), Amalienburg (Castle of Amalia), Leopoldinischer Trakt (Leopoldine Wing), Michaelertrakt E Michaelerplatz (The Saint Michael Wing and The Square of Saint Michael).
Fondest memory: I really liked the treasury and the Square of Saint Michael. Both places have so much beauty. I bought a Frank Sinatra cd in Vienna, and everytime I hear a Sinatra song I think of the beauty of Vienna. Since it was Autumn the days were crisp and sunny!
Favorite thing: Well, back in the city centre again and quite near where we started out. This is the Hofburg, a truly enormous series of palaces that houses a multitude of 'visitor attractions' including the Spanish Riding School.
Favorite thing: The statue of Erzherzog Karl in Heldenplatz. This was important to us as our 'meeting place' - we went to Vienna on a coach trip from the somewhat remote village where we were staying. The hostess on the bus made it very clear that we should be back here at 4:30 or face the prospect of a long train journey back to Traunkirchen. The number of times this was drilled into us vergered on the ridiculous, but it ensured we were not late!
Visit the Imperial Palace (Hofburg), the residence of the Habsburg emperors until 1918. The palace was originally a medieval castle of which only the chapel has survived to this day. Today, the Imperial Palace houses the offices of the Austrian president, an international convention center, the chapel, the riding hall where the Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School perform, various official and private apartments and several museums and state rooms which are open to the public. The New Palace (Neue Burg) is the most recent and most monumental section of the Imperial Palace.