Spanische Hofreitschule - Lipizzaner, Vienna
There are 4 kinds of attractions at the Spanische Hofreitschule - Spanish Riding School.
The best is the performance in the inside winter riding school build in Baroque style by architect Fischer von Erlach in the years 1730. It is called "VORFÜRUNG B" or "VORFÜRUNG C" and lasts 80 minutes (Performance B) or 100 minutes (Performance C).
I am not a connoisseur of riding but I really liked what for me was a ballet of white Lipizzaner stallions.
The perfection of what is called the “High School of Classical Horsemanship” is spectacular with the Pas de Deux, Work in Hand and on the Long Rein, the Levade, Courbette and Capriole figures and the School Quadrille with eight stallions. Of course all this is very classical dressage (no jumping).
Relatively few visitors of Vienna see these performances because they happen only on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 pm (none in January, July and first fortnight of August !) so that reservations have to be made months in advance. (I'll come back on the practical details in another tip).
During the show photos and films are banned. My photo shows the riding school before the show begins.
Most tourists attend the (cheaper) morning exercises that take place almost every day (except July) at 10 and 12 h. No advance booking. Many are also participating to the guided tour daily at 14, 15 and 16 h. For this reservations are possible by e-mail.
In July at 11 h there is a daily spectacle "PIBER MEETS VIENNA" that shows young horses and carriages for 60 minutes.
As I wrote in a previous review the best attraction at the Spanish Riding School is the "VORFÜRUNG B"( Performance B) lasting 80 minutes or "VORFÜRUNG C"(Performance C) for 100 minutes. They happen only on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 h (except January, July and first fortnight in August where there is no "VORFÜRUNG").
You should definitely check the program of the year on the site www.srs.at to avoid going to Wien when there is no performance at least if it is your aim to see the ballet of white Lipizzaner stallions.
The prizes for the best seats run up to 130 - 100 €. Good seats on the first Long Gallery cost € 89. Close views on the equestrian figures are best when sitting in the center of the long gallery facing the two poles at the center of the riding school because this is where riders cross and where horses do their courbette and other figures.
Behind these gallery seats there is standing room at 23 €.
The seats go by 4 between columns. Best is to book the two central seats so as not to have your side view somewhat restricted by the columns. The horses turn close to the walls. You won't see them when they are passing under your balustrade.
To get good and not too expensive seats you have to book several months in advance through their website for the show "VORFÜRUNG". You can see on their website www.srs.at the location and seat number you want to book (see photo Saalplan).
Via e-mail you receive, after payment by credit card, an Order Nr. You must collect the final ticket at the box office of the "Besucherzentrum am Michaelerplatz" from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 to 16 h or on the day of the performance up to 45 minutes before the start.
Depending on where you are seated you will be shown on a map which one of the 3 accesses is yours. They open at 10.15 h. Note that there are no toilets inside; you have to go outside at the entrance of the Josefsplatz.
As what concerns the other attractions:
The MORNING EXERCISES that take place almost every day (except July) at 10 and 12 h. Price 14 € (reduced 10 €). No reservations. Tickets on sale at Besucherzentrum and at entrance on Josefsplatz from 9 to 12 h.
The TOUR takes place daily at 14, 15 and 16 h. Price 16 € (reduced 13 €). Reservations accepted via E-Mail email@example.com or by telephone: +43 1 533 90 31.
Combined ticket for the exercises and guided tour at 28 €.
In July at 11 h is a daily spectacle "PIBER MEETS VIENNA" which shows young horses and carriages for 60 minutes. Prices from 10 to 40 €. Same reservation system as for the Performances "Vorfürung".
A performance by the Lippizan Stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. We were lucky to be in Vienna at the right time to see a real performance. I'm glad we booked some months in advance as many people were turned away at the box office on the day. The horses were extraordinary to watch but to see the best of the performance you must keep a close eye on their hooves as their precision will blow your mind.
On my second visit to vienna I spent half a day with VTer roley at morning practise at the SRS. Roley is a fountain of information where the Lippizaners are concerned, having spent many years studying the horses and the history of the SRS.
The Spanish Riding School is the oldest and last Riding School in the world where classic dressage is still practised in its purest form. It was founded in 1572. The Lipizzaner stallion is the oldest classic horse race in Europe. The horses have been bred in Lipizza in Slovenia. Tody, there is a stud in Piber, close to Graz. Young Lipizzaner are born jet-black and only turn white when reaching maturity. They need to undergoe elaborate training before they are able to perform their prancing Renaissance ballet to the sound of classical music. The Riders of the Spanish Riding School train the horses and perform in the Winter Riding School in the Vienna Hofburg (Imperial Palace) in a Baroque hall built by Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach between 1729 and 1735. The presentations of classical dressage have been open to the public since 1920.
The shows are often booked for months in advance, but you can also go in and watch them practice for a fraction of the price. In July and August the white horses enjoy their well-deserved summer break.
With Spain being known for having some of the best horses in the world, it should come as no surprise that former rulers of the Austria wanted to have and be able to see these creatures in all their glory. So, instead of invading Spain, the decided to bring Spain to them. The result is Vienna's famed Spanish Riding School. Lipizza, is a small region in Slovenia, and is known to produce, what has been professed to be, the best classical type of race horses, and this is where the horse have been taken from since the founding of the school in 1572. The horses are always white.
The school is founded on these principles (gathered from their website):
To maintain classic dress to perfection and present this to the public
To preserve the Lipizzaner race and to supply stallions which have proved their abilities to the Federal stud in Piber as stud horses.
To represent Austria.
To see these horses and riders on display in all their glory, you will have to do some planning, as the performances are sold out months in advance, and are pretty expensive. Buut, yu can see their training sessions, simply by walking up to the counter, and are less than 10 Euro.
1992 - Spanish Riding School, well if you did not see one of these shows, you were not in Vienna. These magnificent beasts belong to the only riding school where the classical form of riding is still practiced. The famous white Lipizzaner stallions have been bred in the Hapsburg stables since 1580 and you sit in awe as they perform there elegant movements to music. We experienced a very funny incident. I smelled something rather bad and mentioned it to my friend who then told me that what I was smelling was not urine from the horses, but the lady next to me took of her shoes and that was where the smell came from. Enough to let you pass out I will let you know! I still enjoyed the show however.
2008 - Did not have any funny smells today, and enjoyed the show as much as I did 15 years ago. Price we paid was 45 Euro and we had great seats on the top balcony.
CLOSED IN JULY AND AUGUST
The Spanische Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School) is the oldest Classical Dressage riding school in the world, featuring the famous Lipizzaner stallions. Performances at the Spanish Riding School were originally only presented to guests of the Royal Court. However, after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the school opened up regular performances to the general public to help pay for its upkeep.
The regular performances, held in an elegant riding hall, are immensely popular with tourists -- and are often sold out months in advance. It is possible to purchase advance tickets for performances online to ensure a seat reservation.
This is one of the highlights that should be viewed if the chance arises. I went 3 times and the show is great. The stallions are so well trained, you feel they are in your lap while they round the arena. Tickets may be a problem unless you plan ahead.
Although it is not certain, it is thought that the Spanish School was founded in 1572 and that it was learning the "Haute Ecole" of horsemanship. The Habsburgs bred and trained horses from Spain - thus forming the "Spanische Reitschule". The Winter Riding School building was commissioned by Karl VI. It was built between 1729 -1735 designed by Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach. It is in this building that the show tales place. The Lippizzaner horses are trained from the age of three years. There is also a Lipizzaner museum across the road from the school.
All my photos are old - I will make more on my next visit.
The lipizzaner horse is one of the famous symbols of Vienna along with the Riesenrad and Mannerschnitten chocolate wafers. In the summer of 2003 a new initiative of advertising using lipizzaner horses has hit the city centre. Shops buy white horse statues and then decorate them with their logo or a theme with the help of a local artist or in some cases a group of school children. The proceeds go to the Spanish Riding School and brighten up the centre of Vienna at the same time! Have a look around the first district especially the Graben and Karntnerstrasse to find this new breed of lipizzaner. (Please don't climb on them but they are good for photos!)
The lipizzaner horse is one of the symbols synonymous with Vienna and Austria. If you are wandering around the city at the moment you will see some of these horses standing around as a new advertising idea.
The Spanish riding school is the place to see these horses either in their morning rehearsals or during a proper performance. To discover the history of the Riding School and learn some really interesting facts about the horses and their training have a look at their website and click on the links.
If you have time and want to see something special, this is a good option. The performance takes around 1 hour and it is for 14 euros. We have not seen it, because the performances were at 2 and 4 pm and we would not be able to make it. But i think it must be great to see what these horses are able to do!
We went to a training session at the Spanish Riding School. There were no shows during our stay in Vienna. The training was pretty boring. Music was played in the background as the riders rode around the room. The horses did some interesting gallops and we saw a couple of horses being trained some new move by the trainers.
The Lipizzaner Stallions are really nice to see so it's worth attending a training session. The hall that they train in is also an impressive room. We stayed about one hour which was plenty!
Seeing the Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Always something I wanted to do. I felt it was worth it but realise that if you don't pay for a full show, just going in the mornings, is exercise only. Odds are you aren't going to see much spectaular movements in the training. Most is basic dressage to condition and strengthen the horses. However just to see the interior of the Winter Stables is impressive. Nicer than most people's houses. I super enjoyed it but unless you are a horse fan, you will likely be bored. Most people don't last the entire two hours of training time. There are several sets of horses that train for 20-30 minutes each in the arena. After that you can go through the museum which is fun and educational with some great photos, paintings and film at the end.
This is a once in a lifetime chance to see the best of the best.
The Spanish Riding School of Vienna has been around for more than 400 years. It trains both horses and riders according to centuries-old methods. The Lipizzans and dressage have become synonymous with the school and you can see them both at any of the shows or special events held here.
Make sure you say hello to Susan (She is the one in the picture).