Tuesday, 29 April 2014


We expected a city that demonstrated culture and a love of the arts. We didn’t expect quite that much grandeur, especially in the architecture, nor so many palaces, such a history of aristocracy versus industrialists nor so many effects of royalty and royal decrees that affected everything from religion to open spaces to the design of city streets.

Our walking tour of the town was led by a guide who was obviously deeply immersed in the history of architectural styles and also on the influence of royalty on the city, but who was actually as boring as bat shit. We did at least get treated to the story of Sacher torte and had the coffee houses pointed out. Plus a few lovely shops.

Vienna chandelier shop
Chandelier shop
Vienna cakes
Cake shop
We had a little time to visit St Stephen’s Cathedral, learn the story of the plague monument, peek at the Lipizzan horses in their stables while being overwhelmed by the mass of information about the ages and stages of architecture, of which Baroque, with its balanced designs and OTT gilding seemed to be the dominant form.

Vienna St Stephens_edited-1
The nave of St Stephen’s
Vienna Plague_edited-1
The emperor on the plague monument showing his humility
Vienna Cafe Mozart_edited-1
Mozart coffee house
Venice horses_edited-1
Lipizzan horses, born black but turn white by 10 years

After dinner we dressed up a little and were taken to the Leichenstein City Palace for a concert of Austrian music, including, of course, the Blue Danube. This was the real thing my friends, a genuine palace belonging to the family (one of about 6 they own) recently restored at a cost of E100,000,000. Oh my!!! While no photos were allowed of the orchestra, we could take photos in the several rooms we used. Let them speak for themselves.

Vienna Palais L edited
Entry hall
Vienna Palais L anteroom_edited-1
Welcome salon
Vienna Palais L hal editedl
Vienna Palais L room_edited-1
Performance room
I Googled the family later. They own a bank, as one does. Their personal fortune in E4 billion. The bank is worth E7.1 billion. Truly a night to remember.

The next morning we selected a visit to the Schonbrunn Palace, the summer palace of the Hapsburgs of whom Maria Theresia was probably the most famous; in between being Empress she bore 16 children who she then married off to various royal houses in Europe, including Marie Antoinette to the King of France. Oops!

As expected the place is ginormous with extensive grounds and gardens. We saw only a small selection of the rooms and were not allowed to take photographs inside, but Baroque again proved the dominant motif, along with quite a large amount of Chinese material, porcelain and lacquer and delicate drawings. No one in Europe was making porcelain at that time so it was truly a luxury item.
A charabanc trip around the gardens completed the visit. Lovely high clipped hedges, a massive fountain or two, acres of raked gravel and mown grass; that sort of thing.

Vienna sch_edited-1
The front of the palace
Vienna sch gloriosa_edited-1
Gloriosa; the monument on the hill

Vienna horseride_edited-1
Driving through the gardens

Vienna sch hedge_edited-1

The high hedges

We finished in the city where Nick and I opted for a quick Italian lunch followed by a trip to the Albertina Museum to see some of the precious drawings from their works on paper, rarely displayed. They included Durer’s “Hare” and the famous “Praying hands”. They advertised on their steps to lovely effect.

Vienna hare edited

A little touch of home: This is an apartment block designed by Harry Seidler; Austrian by birth, Australian by choice.

Vienna seidler_edited-1

Tomorrow: Durnstein and Melk Abbey

No comments:

Post a Comment