We chose our Viking tour primarily because it offered a day in Vienna, which we had never visited. We scheduled a full day: a bus tour of the city in the morning, a visit to the Schonbrunn palace in the afternoon, and a concert in the evening.
Our guide was a British citizen named Martin Bradley who told us he came to Vienna to be with his girlfriend and they had lived 25 years in their apartment. Our first sight as we emerged from the harbor park was this church that has a commanding presence overlooking the shore of the Danube. It was built to mark the 50th year of the reign of Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria. After his death in 1916, his nephew Charles succeeded him only to be forced out of government after World War I.
Our bus took us on the Ringstrasse, which was modeled on Paris boulevards of the 19th century. Some of the sights along the way: the Stadtpark, with its Strauss statue, a monument to the liberation of Vienna by Russians, the gold-domed Secession building, referring to the secession of a group of artists (including Klimt) from the arts institution. We caught a glimpse of the state opera house built in 1869, the imperial garden which has a statue of Mozart, the Parliament, the Rathauspark, Landsteiner, the university (biggest in the German -speaking world), and city hall, Martin commented that the Social Democrats were in power and had constructed a lot of public housing, which keeps down the cost of living in the city. We got off the bus and saw the Hofburg, the old royal palace in the city. The 18th century empress Marie-Therese- from her bed sometimes- kept track of time watching a clock in a mirror, while working on papers of state.
I took a picture of Joseph II’s equestrian statue. He succeeded his mother Marie-Therese in 1780. He was a friend of Mozart. Unfortunately there was a lot of construction going on so I could not get close enough for a good image. Here is a good one on the internet.
Nearby are the stables of the Lipizanner horses. We could not see the horses, but we could smell them. Our guide said they needed years of training and only start performing in public at the age of 9. Nearby there were some Roman ruins.
We saw the Graben – a pedestrian mall, also on the site of Roman ruins. Vienna, and other cities on the Danube, marked the northern border of the Roman empire.
In the neighborhood behind this church is the house where Mozart lived, in Dom Gasse. We only had twenty minutes before our rendezvous with the tour, but we took a quick look inside the house.
Our guide pointed out a statue of the controversial Otto Wagner, a mayor in the 19th and early 20th century. He rose to power exploiting anti- Semitic feeling.
Schonbrunn Palace was really the creation of Marie- Therese. She was in charge during the heyday of the Hapsburg empire. The Empire came to an end after World War I, when the last Emperor withdrew from government without formally abdicating.
1569 marked the beginning of Schonbrunn, up to then just a hunting lodge. It was named after a spring that was discovered, according to legend, by Emperor Matthias.
In 1683 the lodge/palace was destroyed. It was decided to rebuild it as a palace like Versailles. Around 1740 Marie- Therese changed it into a real imperial palace.
The Schonbrunn Palace tour was fantastic. I inadvertently took a forbidden photo of the hall of mirrors.
The whole was a good imitation of Versailles. Here is a link to the official website, in English. It has a lot of pictures that are better than the ones we would have taken. In the evening we went by bus to a concert of Mozart and Strauss by the Vienna Residence Orchestra featuring 9 instrumentalists, two singers, and two dancers. The linked photograph gives an idea of the venue during a performance. They opened with the overture to the Marriage of Figaro and Figaro’s aria to Cherubino, and finished with the Radetsky march. It was an excellent production, full of stage business and fun.
We saw a great deal on our day in Vienna, but much more than we could absorb. Vienna deserves the kind of time we have devoted to Paris.
The crew provided soup for us and then to bed.