09.27.2011 - 09.27.2011
I started my last day in Vienna by having breakfast with an older couple I had met at my hotel. They had seen me at breakfast the day before and asked me if I was traveling alone. When I told them I was, they invited me to eat with them the next morning. The wife is German and the husband is American and they live in Seattle. They have traveled everywhere, so it was fun to listen to their stories.
After breakfast, I finally visited the site I had walked by every day – St. Stephan’s Cathedral. It was about a five minute walk from my hotel, so I had seen it from the outside several times, but this was the day to take a look inside. The church was originally built in the 12th century, but was heavily damaged throughout the years by fire and war. It is now fully restored and considered one of the greatest Gothic structures in Europe.
I took a guided tour of the catacombs, which was done in German and English, but pictures weren’t allowed. The catacombs contain the remains of 56 members of the Habsburg family.
A short metro ride from there is the Karlskirche, another large church in Vienna. Karlskirche has a very different look from St. Stephan’s. St. Stephan’s is very Gothic with towers and spires. Karlskirche, on the other hand, has a huge green dome and two Romanesque columns. When Vienna was battling the plague in 1713, Emperor Charles VI made a promise to God that he would build a church if the disease left the city. Karlskirche was Charles’ fulfillment of that promise.
The inside of the church is incredibly ornate.
The church is surrounded by a small park called Ressel Park, which has a reflecting pool.
A short walk from Karlskirche is the Staatsoper, the state opera house.
I had a lot of fun taking a behind-the-scenes tour. This is the lobby:
This is where the emperor used to take his intermission. Now it is rented out for big bucks.
This is an intermission room for the regular people. Around the room are the busts of several composers and paintings that depict scenes from their operas.
Here are some pictures of the performance hall:
And here is the backstage area:
I spent my last evening back in Stadtpark, where I had gone on my first day in Vienna. It is a very peaceful park in the middle of the city. I had dinner at a biergarten (beer garden) in the park and then walked around for a while.