Vienna Holidays: Lively City, Living History

by Lexa Pennington / Jul 17, 2014 /
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Vienna is not only the capital of Austria, it is one of the most beautiful and historical cities in all of Europe. The medieval alleyways, imperial squares, majestic palaces, and world-class museums combine to create a city that is simultaneously charming and sophisticated. Holidays here can be tailored to anything from romance to adventure, to historical inquests into some of the most formative events that have shaped the history of central Europe.

So if you want to delve deep into the region’s past, short breaks to Vienna allow you to cram in as many cultural sights as you could want from a city weekender. Here are a few of the top things to look out for when brushing up on your Viennese history…

 

Stephansdom Cathedral

For more than eight centuries, this Viennese cathedral was the centre from which the city radiated outward. The alleys and passageways that surround modern day Stephansdom are an incredible way for visitors to experience the city’s impressively intact medieval architecture.

 

St Stephens Cathedral interior, Vienna

St Stephen's Cathedral interior. Photo Wikimedia Commons: C1815

 

Stephansplatz is an ideal place for visitors to start a walking tour that moves through the city and reveals various elements of its past and present. Each street in this part of the city is named for specific trades of the times such as Bäckerstrasse (baker’s street) and Wollzeile (street of the weavers). Don’t miss Blutgasse (blood alley), where it is rumoured that many Knights Templar were murdered, thus giving the street its ominous name.

 

Schönbrunn Palace

This elegant estate was the summer residence of the imperial Family and is now one of Austria’s most popular tourist destinations. The Palace’s history and architecture are an impressive monument to imperial Europe and the prosperity that defined the times in Vienna and beyond.

For the ultimate view of the gorgeous grounds, visitors should not miss the walk up Gloriette hill; a perch from which the entire estate can be viewed in a breathtaking panorama. Visitors can also tour the ornate palace or stop in to see the carriage museum and palace theatre. The gardens are designed in the Baroque style and include picturesque paths, fabulous fountains, faux Roman follies, a tropical greenhouse and even a zoo. This palace is a testament to the golden Age of Europe and the splendor of imperial Vienna.

 

Wiener Staatsoper

The Vienna State Opera House is not only home to some of the most incredible musical performance in the world today, it is also an historically significant structure that symbolizes the resurgence of Europe after World War II. The Wiener Staatsoper was home to the inaugural performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and its architectural style and interior accents have secured it as one of the most breathtaking venues in all of Europe. The building was constructed after the war and its façade was contrived in a neo-Renaissance style while its acoustic interiors are truly state of the art. The Opera House is also home to some exquisite tapestries that depict scenes from famous operas as well as sculptures of famous composers and conductors. The building stands as a monument to Vienna’s long and impressive musical history, as well as the resilience of European culture after decades of war.

 

Vienna State Opera House

Vienna Stadtoper by night by Andrew Nash, on Flickr creative commons