Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a city with 23 districts, that are distributes, one after each other, into a gigantic snail.
The first district, the "Innere Stadt" is the kernel of Vienna.
From there begins the others 22 district, further.
In Vienna, you can really see the history of the country and the world history, interconnected with music and culture, with art and architecture.
Throughout Vienna, there are monuments, churches, statues and wells, palaces and museums, old and new constructions, garden, and parks that fit very well together.
I will try to show, in my Vienna web page, the most important objectives for everyone district.
Fondest memory: There, you find, arranged, and named, the 23 districts of Vienna:
1. Innere Stadt
These are very cute and have little messages on the side like:
"Ich fuehl mich so leer!" - I feel so empty!
How could anyone resist a little plea like that ?? go and buy ten postcards at least and fill up that little yellow box - oh and by the way - the slot is on the side of the box!
*Spoiler - "Favourite Thing" is a set heading*
Some of Vienna's darkest days occurred not much over a half-century ago. You’ll find both acknowledgements and reminders of those times around Vienna. Yes, it’s tempting to say that we’ve moved on …. but has the world learned anything, or have the issues just changed slightly?
The first photo is the 1988 Monument Against War and Fascism in the Albertinaplatz. This really sank in for me, as it related to not just Austria’s past Nazi government, but to the fact that it was fascist by nature – and sadly fascist governments are still around (see link). It also, significantly, is sited where some hundreds of ordinary people were killed while sheltering from a WW2 air raid. Taking it further, the granite slabs are from Mauthausen Concentration Camp.
Requests for more prominence to the oppression of the Jewish people led to the addition of the little man, representing a Jew, kneeling and scrubbing the pavement (Photo 2)– a reference to a pre-war incident when Jews were required to scrub graffiti from the footpath with acid. The “barbed wire’ on his back was added later to deter tourists from using him as a stool!
The Jewish community wanted a specific Holocaust Memorial, however . That led in 2000 to the “Nameless Library” (Photo 3)– found in Judenplatz, representing thousands of books turned spine inward, so they remain anonymous, representing the 65,000 Austrian Jews killed in those years. The starkness of this Memorial is emphasised further by the false doors(Photo 4), echoing the doors of gas chambers.
While not built as monuments, but also evocative reminders of those dark days, Vienna still has several Flaktürm, huge anti-aircraft gun emplacements (housing air raid shelters) made of almost solid concrete. Ugly as can be, I feel they deserve preservation for their historic significance. One is seen here in the distance behind St Stephan’s (Photo 5).
Fondest memory: Some links:
A Definition of fascism I found on the internet.
Description in some detail of the +Monument Against War and Fascism.
Favorite thing: Getting up very early and taking a walk through the waking streets of Vienna is a real pleasure. In summer the air is fresh and cool (in summer it can get very hot later in the day); feet that are tired from the previous day's sight-seeing have regained their spring; shop keepers are opening shutters and setting up displays; the first fiakers are heading for their stand by the Stephandsdom; the smell of fresh baking wafts out of a doorway as you pass; inside the Stephansdom there are only attendees at an early Mass and the odd visitor like you instead of the hordes of tourists and their guides who will fill the place later in the day. Down at pavement level the narrow streets will be in full shade but the morning light will be catching the tops of the buildings, showing up their varying rooflines; it's a good time for photos with few people around and softer light ... and by the time you get back to your hotel you'll have worked up an appetite for a breakfast that will set you up for another day.
Favorite thing: From the time we arrived in Vienna, we were struck by the use of ornamentation on the buildings. Not just the Baroque decorations on palaces (hey, you expect that), but right from the start with the little touches such as the statues on the façade of our hotel (photo 2) or the detailing on the building alongside (now housing the “Columbus Brau Restaurant” – separate tip) with not just ornamentation (photo 3) but also painted murals (main photo). Yes, these both are older buildings admittedly, but what about the reasonably newish concrete box in photo 4) with its curious stylised birds of some kind! I think it is part of the Technische Universität. In any case, when walking around Vienna, looking for the “trimmings” on buildings provides a frequently surprising source of interest.
As might be expected, Vienna has more than its share of statues: although we saw many, those were only a relative few. Tempting as it was to write a tip for each, I am including several in this “General” tip – and they all count as “a few of my favourite things”.
This tip’s heading photo very nearly became my Vienna page header, as I think it just typifies Vienna so well. It shows the Providentia (Providence) statue at the Neuer Markt – she’s the godess sitting on the central pedestal. Around her are four sculptures, signifying the main rivers feeding into the Danube. Apparently the Empress Maria Theresa disliked it (in best Victorian style, because of nudity) and had it removed for some years.
What the wowserish Empress thought of the statues on the corners of her own winter palace (the Hofburg) one must wonder, (photos 2,3) because they appear to me to also show substantially unclothed people! Maybe when she arrived and left home, she was too busy waving to her adoring subjects! I gather the first of these is something to do with Austria (the young lady) overcoming the waves, and the second is something to do with military prowess.
Finally, in the Maria Theresa Park between the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Naturhistorisches Museum, there is a substantial statue of the Empress Maria Theresa herself. It’s not something you’d miss seeing if you visit one of the Museums – but then again, Maria Theresa had a very significant part in the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Vienna is rich in architecture from Art Nouveau to the Present. The Tourist Information Offices of Vienna offers a free brochure with more than 100 architecturally interesting buildings and its locations. Besides many well known buildings like the Hundertwasser House or the Karl-Marx-Hof it lists many lesser known buildings. Among them are for example the Bank-Austria-Filiale from the 1970's and the Gasometer from the late 1990's.
Favorite thing: For some really great Vienne scenery, try watching the movie "Before Sunrise", starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. It's the ultimate backpacker's movie and a really nice little love story. It's about two tourists who meet on a train and decide to spend about 12 hours walking around the city. You get views of the Prater, the Opera House, the Danube, and most of the other major sites. It's what first attracted me to Vienna and really made me want to go.
Kohlmarkt is another Viennese pedestrianised shopping street where I enjoyed spending time. This is a much smaller street than Graben and runs between it and Michaelerplatz at the entrance to the Hofburg. Turning from Graben into Kohlmarkt there is a stunning view of the Michaelertor (gate) leading in to the Hofburg Palace. This kind of sets the tone to the street and there are many interesting shops and buildings here. Most famous is probably Demel Cafe where they bake the most extaordinary confectionary in town. There are also several bookshops, the best being Freytag & Berndt and some very expensive designer clothes shops. Altogether a very pleasing and Viennese atmosphere and ambience.
This photo was taken in Demel and shows some famous residents of Kohlmarkt - Bill and Kofi, looking much sweeter than usual.
Vienna by night is well worth seeing as most churches, historic buildings and sights are beautifully illuminated.
So don't miss a nighttime visit of the Charles' Church or the Town Hall; even the Prater with the illuminated Giant Ferris Wheel shouldn't be missed at night.
Favorite thing: As I spent most of Saturday visiting galleries I didn't get too much time for shopping - but at least if I go back again I know where to shop! On Sunday we were in Mariahilfe Strasse which seemed to be full of lovely boutiques and great places to shop, but of course nothing was open except for restaurants and internet cafes.
The Naschmakrt, located in Kettenbrukengasse (4th district) is where you can shop for local produce, flowers, wines and have a pretty decent meal at one of their little cafes. Saturday is when it's the busiest with street vendors setting up their tents to sell clothes, trinkets, etc. It is when it's the most colorful. You can also choose from a selection of produce other than Austria e.g Asian, Turkish, Greek. Prices for dining are not as high as in the 1st district too.
To get there, you can take a 10min stroll from the 1st District pass the Opera and towards the Secession Building. Or, you can take the U4 train and stop at Kettenbrukengasse.
Fondest memory: I enjoy walking through the Naschmarkt just to see the vibrant colours of the flowers & fruits and watching people go by as I have coffee in the outdoors cafe. Try Cafe Do-An, I enjoy the breakfasts here
Vienna is a modern and very traditional city at the same time; to get a first impression, just take a short walk around the "Ringstrasse" and from the Opera to St Stephens Cathedral.
I bet, you will rarely find many Viennese there, it may be yet rather important to know, how to deal with them:
Viennese are friendly and helpful, as long as you are not schoolmastering or showing them, that you are better educated, richer, more intelligent or capable of languages, your Viennese counterpart is not. Unfortunately the knowledge of foreign languages is comparable with the UK or US, i.e.rare, but increasing with the younger generation.
In fact, many Viennese suffer from a sort of inferiority-complex, combined with a little fear of making themselves a fool, when discussing with a stranger. Be nice to them, and they will be nice to you and do their utmost, to make your stay pleasant.
Just do them a few - free of charge - favours: Bid them a "Good Morning", "Guten Tag"(Good Day), "Auf Wiedersehen", when you enter a waiting room, a shop or a restaurant. "Bitte" and "Danke" (Please and Thank You) are also nice phrases, unfortunately not always heard, when appropriate.
Fondest memory: Viennese food can be a gift and a torture as well - (being away from Vienna)
The most beautiful impressions of Vienna will be the sights of the "Ringstrasse" in spring, the old historic buildings, mixed with the impressive new Vienna of the recent years.
Take a walk by the Donau-channel in summer and visit the "Summer Stage" or the Vienna Festival from May till the end of June. In summer there are daily performances infront of the Town Hall, a lot of foodstalls and music in the air. Come to Vienna on New Years Eve and walk the "Silvesterpfad" (New years path) across the city. You will then feel, what I`m talking about here !
Open 9am-5.30 Thurs-Mon
9am-9pm Weds. Disabled access.
Opened in 1889 to house Emporer Franz Stephans 1748 collection of bits and bobs - there are now more than 20 MILLION!!! exhibits! Maybe I should make this a *Must See for my next trip* - or maybe not ;-)
Lovely building though.
In the 5th district, there are a lot of tucked away places - which offer very reasonable food and drink and are not so full of tourists that you can't dare to venture into them. For me, the Schlossquadrat by Margarethenplatz is one place I would always recommend - here I have frequently enjoyed a lunch outside, had great wine with cheeseboards - ooh they're good, celebrated my 25th birthday, met my girlfriend and also celebrated moving into my flat which I bought - I brought my parents here due to not having a kitchen to cook and celebrate!
Fondest memory: My home and adopted hometown! The fifth district has become my adopted home and after having travelled around a lot it is always nice to get home and enjoy a meal in my flat.
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