Friday, March 13, 2009

Orient Express Stop - Vienna

I'm taking a break from my usual travel writing to join the Orient Express which I recently boarded in Paris on the blog Muse Swings. Do join the journey at Muse Swings's Orient Express post. And when you get to Vienna, get off the train to take in the sites of the city on this blog!

Welcome to Vienna! We have arrived at the Westbahnhof (west railway station) in the beautiful city of Wien, in the heart of Europe.

I invite you to take a few hours off from the journey to come with me and see the sights of this ancient city. Vienna’s history dates back to a military camp set up in the city centre under the Roman empire in the first century. Roman remains can be seen in old city just outside the Hofburg palace.

However, most of what you see in Vienna today dates back to the much later Habsburg dynasty and the Austro-Hungarian empire. During this time, Vienna became the cultural hub of Europe. Since those times, Austria has become inexticably linked with the music of Mozart and Strauss. It has also been the home of artists such as Klimt and Hundertwasser.

First, let us visit Stefansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) in the centre of the old cobbled city. The cathedral dominates central Vienna and it’s spire offers a wonderful view of the old city. The oldest remaining parts of the cathedral date back to the 13th century.

For a complete change of scene – and period – let’s move now to die Sezession (the Secession). This was the centre of Vienna’s Jugendstil, the Austrian counterpart of the art nouveau movement in France. The movement was founded in fin de siecle (late 19th and early 20th century) Vienna by the likes of Gustav Klimt and Otto Wagner in rebellion against the prevailing conservatism in art and architecture. The basement has wall paintings by Klimt. Klimt’s other paintings – most famously The Kiss – can be seen at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna.

Now we go the Ring, the circular road that encompasses the old city, for a visit to the world-famous Staatsoper (State Opera). This 19th century building is the venue for some of Europe’s best-loved opera, producing 50-60 operas a year in some 200 performances. It counts Gustav Mahler and Herbert von Karajan among its most illustrious conductors.

Our next stop is the Schönbrunn, the summer palace of Hapsburg rulers. It was built by Emperor Leopold I in the 17th century as a hunting lodge, with over 1,400 rooms! Austria’s much-loved Empress Maria Theresia had it expanded and redecorated in French Rococo style in the 18th century. The palace’s prominent visitors included Napoleon, who married Maria Theresia’s grand-daughter Marie Louise (as his second wife).

This concludes the official tour. You might want to relax over a melange (coffee with cream) and a slice of the famous Sacher torte before heading back to the station...


  1. Thanks for this trip down memory lane. I spent 4 months in Vienna two years ago and loved, loved, loved it! I can taste the wonderful coffee and strudel from here.

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  3. Hello Pam, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a lovely comment. I'm glad I discovered your blog too!

    This is been a trip down memory lane for me as well. We were in Vienna this past summer and we really enjoyed our stay. Would go back in a heartbeat!

  4. What a wonderful way to bring back good and happy memories?
    I loved the descriptive tour and re-lived more than five years of my life in Vienna,the years of joy and fun. Thanks.

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