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.
The nave of St Stephen’s
The emperor on the plague monument showing his humility
Mozart coffee house
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.
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.
The front of the palace
Gloriosa; the monument on the hill
Driving through the gardens
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.
A little touch of home: This is an apartment block designed by Harry Seidler; Austrian by birth, Australian by choice.
Tomorrow: Durnstein and Melk Abbey