Vienna was a pleasant surprise- the very little I knew about Vienna before arriving was sourced purely from fiction novels. In this post I will be sharing tidbits of my visits to some of Vienna’s main attractions. Anecdotes with some of my more outrageous experiences in Vienna will be posted separately. Enjoy!
1. St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom): the Cathedral is widely acknowledged as the most important religious building in Vienna and its colorful shingle roof has become one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Archeological research suggests that the site was once home to another, much older religious structure which may have predated Vienna’s oldest, St. Rupert’s Church. The church is bustling with tourist and native activity alike; the church holds several masses per week. Inside, the structure and decor bare notable resemblance to Notre Dame in Paris and create a real ‘old Europe’ feeling. In one of my brighter moments, I decided to climb to the top of the South tower in search of a better aerial view than we had gotten previously (will be explained alter), only to find that the North tower was the one that led to an open air balcony. Still, the view was gorgeous, and climbing the 343-step, poorly lit spiral staircase is not a memory I will soon forget.
2. Museumsquartier: is Vienna’s cultural center and ranks eighth amongst the world’s largest cultural areas. It is home to a variety of museums and exhibition spaces. Due to my short visit, I was only able to visit MUMOK, the Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna. The museum as a whole feels much like a less crowded version of New York’s MoMA and is currently displaying an exhibition dedicated to Julius Koller, one of Eastern Europe's most important artists. The exhibit begins on the top floor where three ping pong tables, in various states of disrepair, are placed in the middle of the room. Visitors are encouraged to play. There is no explanation. It’s art.
3. Sachertorte: a sachertorte is a traditional Austrian chocolate cake, first created in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich, the cake is one of Vienna’s most highly regarded culinary specialties. It consists of dense chocolate cake, thin layers of apricot jam, and a dark chocolate coating. In traditional settings, it is served with unsweetened whipped cream. Now, on this trip, we had advice from two Vienna veterans who love the city and its food dearly, so we took their advice and headed to Café Sacher, which lays claim to the invention of the cake in question. We were not disappointed.
4. St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirch): the church, dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, was first built in 1737. It’s architecture, restored and altered slightly in 1980, are loved throughout Vienna, and after visiting, I can attest to its beauty. The building itself is rather unassuming, located on the edge of a public park near Karlsplatz; the real beauty is inside. The church offers visitors the opportunity to climb into the very top of the dome for a panoramic view of Vienna. I realize this doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary, and at the time it wasn’t. Until I entered the elevator, built on scaffolding, and then climbed the remaining flights of temporary wood and metal stairs to the top. This is a case where pictures speak a thousand words, so make you own conclusions.
5. The Butterfly house (Schmetterlinghaus): attached to the Palmenhaus (which has an absolutely beautiful café), this section of the greenhouse hosts hundreds of free-flying butterflies in a simulated version of their natural environment. I visited after breakfast on my last morning in Vienna and spent a peaceful hour looking at butterflies up close and enjoying the warm temperature of the room.
We were also able to visit Naschmarkt, Hunderwasserhaus, and see several other Viennese landmarks such as Rathaus and the parliament building. Photos are live in the gallery, and more posts are on the way!