09.25.2011 - 09.25.2011
I spent most of my second day in Vienna at the Hofburg Palace complex, an area with several buildings including the winter palace of the Habsburg family. The Habsburg dynasty ruled the Austrian empire from 1273 to 1918 and each generation of the family changed and added to the Hofburg. The entrance is on a square called Michaelerplatz.
My first stop was Augustinerkirche, a 14th century church for the imperial court. Several members of the royal family were married there.
Next, I wanted to watch the horses of the Spanish Riding School rehearse, but they had the morning off since they were performing later in the day. The horses perform complicated routines to classical music. I was able to see inside the stables.
Also in the Hofburg is the Albertina, which is an art gallery that includes some of the staterooms of the palace. The steps up to the entrance of the building are painted like one of Monet’s water lily paintings.
Inside the art gallery are several paintings by Monet and Picasso. The palace staterooms are designed as they were in the 1800s.
My next stop was the Schatzkammer, which is the imperial treasury. This museum has a large collection of crown jewels and other royal items such as robes and scepters.
This crown was used in the 1600s:
And, this one was used in the 900s:
Next to the Schatzkammer is the Burgkapelle, which is the home of the Vienna Boys Choir.
After having a lunch of goulash at the Hofburg Café, I moved on to the Kaiserappartements, a museum which also shows several state and private rooms in the palace. These rooms are designed as they were in the time of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth in the 19th century.
The museum also includes a huge collection of imperial dinnerware. I’ve never seen so many plates, serving dishes and candelabras!
There are also a few rooms dedicated to Empress Elizabeth, better known to Austrians as Sissi. Sissi never really wanted to be empress and she was depressed for most of her life in the palace. She was tragically assassinated in 1898 and the country has been fascinated with her life and death ever since.
After I left, I walked around the area and saw the Neueburg, which is the most recent addition to the Hofburg, completed in 1913. It houses several museums. I was all museum-ed out by that point, so I didn’t go in.
That concluded my grand tour of the Hofburg. Just outside of the complex is the Burggarten, a park where I saw the famous statue of Mozart.
After that full day of walking, I took a seat on the tourist tram around the Ringstrasse and saw many other beautiful buildings while I rested my feet. The Ringstrasse is a street that circles the historical center of Vienna. The street replaced the city’s original medieval walls in 1857. Here are a few pictures I took during the tram ride.
Town Hall (with a circus going on):
A few other buildings:
I had a really good dinner of chicken schnitzel at a restaurant called Figlmϋller, which was near my hotel. There was a couple from Chicago at the table next to me, so we chatted a bit about our travels.