I’ve just returned from a wonderful 4 days in Vienna. Home to Sigmund Freud, an endless list of musical prodigies (just to name a few: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Ludwig van Beethoven; Johannes Brahms; Joseph Haydn; Franz Schubert), and beautiful Baroque architecture, I happily spent my time exploring the sights and sounds this historical and cultural hub had to offer. Although my time there was short, I managed to visit Nashmarkt, Gustav Klimt’s famed paintings at the Belvedere, the imperial palaces of Schönbrunn and Hofburg, Stephansdom, and the Viennese opera. On the food front, I had lots of Austrian sweets, such as kaiserschmarrn, apple strudel, apricot krapfen, and the popular Sachertorte.
Day 1: Nashmarkt
Naschmarkt originally began as a milk market in the 16th century, and is Vienna’s most popular market today. It houses a food market with numerous restaurants and over a hundred vendors, including an astonishing number of Asian specialty food stores. Nibbles such as olives, nuts, Turkish delight, cheese, and other Austrian specialties can be found in the food market. On Saturday, a flea market selling clothing, accessories, and other interesting artifacts can be found at the end of the food market. Most of the items are relatively cheap and affordable, and my ravioli at a small pasteria cost only 6 euros! I was extremely exhausted after a day of traveling, so my first day was short- after visiting Naschmarkt, I spent my evening helping my friend Paty celebrate her 21st birthday.
Day 2: Schönbrunn Palace and an Easter market
On my second day, I visited Schönbrunn Palace, where members of the Hapsburg monarchy spent their summers. This is where Mozart first performed for Empress Maria Theresa at the age of 7 and famously proposed to the Empress’ daughter, Marie Antoinette, in 1762. The palace is beautifully decorated in the late Baroque Rococo style, and houses over 1400 rooms. It is considered to be one of Austria’s most important cultural landmarks, and is listed on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Sites. To celebrate Easter, an Easter market selling Austrian snacks and colourful Easter goods is being held in front of the palace from March 16th to April 1st. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many artificial eggs in my life!
Kaiserschmarrn with plum compote
A wonderfully tasty apple pastry that I can’t remember the name of!
Kugel with applesauce
My fabulous friends Paty and Tory 🙂
Day 3: The Belvedere and the Viennese State Opera
When I realized that a notable number of Gustav Klimt’s artwork, including his famed painting, ‘The Kiss’, was located in Vienna’s Belvedere, I was determined to pay a visit before leaving. The Belvedere was built in the 18th century as Prince Eugene of Savoy’s summer residence and designed by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, one of the most significant Baroque architects. After Prince Eugene’s death, the Belvedere was acquired by Empress Maria Theresa and was occupied by Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his family from 1899 until his assassination in 1914. In 1919, the palace became the property of the Republic of Austria. The museum is made up of the Upper and Lower Belvedere, the Orangery, and the palace stables; permanent artwork is situated in the Upper, while temporary exhibits are housed in the Lower. One of the most important events in Austria’s history, the signing of the Austrian State Treaty (which was key to their reclaim to sovereignty), was signed in the Upper Belvedere. The two are separated by the palace gardens designed by the Bavarian architect Dominique Girard. Due to the short amount of time we had at the museum before Paty had to rush to class, we only managed to see the Upper Belvedere. This only provides me with a wonderful excuse to visit Vienna again!
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
My new case for my glasses 🙂
The palace gardens and the Lower Belvedere
The front of the Upper Belvedere
That afternoon, Paty and I made a visit to the box office at the Viennese State Opera to try our luck at getting tickets for an opera that night. I didn’t expect to find cheap tickets, if there were any tickets at all. To our surprise, we managed to snag tickets for Il Barbiere di Siviglia, originally priced at 170 euros, for only 45 euros! We were seated on the floor in row 10, and although I had never considered myself to be much of an opera girl, I enjoyed myself so much that my arms were sore from clapping at the end of the opera. Post-opera, we made our way to the neighbouring Hotel Sacher for their famous sachertorte.
Day 4: The Silver Collection, Sisi Museum, and the Imperial Apartments at Hofburg, Stephansdom
On my last day, I paid a visit to the silver collection, the Sisi Museum, and the Imperial Apartments within the Hofburg palace complex. Among several other museums, the Hofburg is also home to the Spanish riding school for Lipizzan horses, the national treasury, the Imperial library, and Austrian congress. Today, the Austrian president resides here.
I have always been fascinated with Empress Elisabeth, who is more commonly referred to by the Austrians as Sisi. The Sisi Museum showcases many personal items belonging to the Empress, as well as the weapon used by Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni to assassinate her during her visit to Geneva in 1898. Despite her popularity among visitors and tourists, she was often the subject of gossip within the Austrian court for her extreme dieting and beauty practices, and failure to fulfill her role as Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary.
Afterwards, we made our way to Stephansdom, located in Stephansplatz, the centre of Vienna. I unfortunately didn’t capture any good photos of the cathedral, but it is absolutely stunning on both the outside and inside. In the evening, I visited Tory’s town St. Polten, located half an hour away from Vienna by train.
The house of plates in St. Polten!
And that concludes my visit to Vienna 🙂