In the morning we left Graz and drove to Vienna airport. After a week with the car, we returned it (since it is more a hustle than a benefit in a big city). Then we took a train to Vienna. Checked in and around noon started our three and a half days of exploring Vienna.
Map of the area:
First Day In Vienna
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Though our hotel was in walking distance from the old city we decided to save time and used the subway. The subway was easy to navigate, not expensive (2.20 euro per ride per person) and comfortable. We took the subway till Stephansplatz, the square Stephansdom AKA St. Stephen’s Cathedral is located on.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna. And upon entering I got a feeling of a tourist money extraction system.
You can see very little for free. There is a long fence closing all the inner part. Thus, for free you can see only from a distance.
When you reach the ticket box we found cashiers tired of tourists and not really willing to explain. And the signs are not very clear. The system is not that simple. There are many tickets for different parts of the cathedral. There are tickets for each tower, Treasury, Catacombs, the Nave and probably other parts of the cathedral. Each of these ticket costs 5-8 euro and a combo around 25 euro per person.
The problem is that you do not know what you will see in each place and thus not sure which ticket to buy and we did not want to spend 25 euro per person. And yes, I checked their website in advance, and it too lacked basic information, like a photo from each part.
In the end, we purchased two tickets with audio guides to the nave (8 euro each).
Behind the fence, there were many people photographing Stephansdom, so I decided to create a Cinemagraph from camera flashes.
If you take a closer look then you will see a person peeking from the window in the bottom part of the photo. This is a self-portrait of the unknown sculptor gawking. It is known as the Fenstergucker (gawking out of a window in German).
This was one of the last stops in the nave and the whole audio tour took about an hour.
St. Peter’s Church
Within several minutes walk, you can find St. Peter’s Church. St. Peter’s Church AKA Peterskirche was our next stop.
We were lucky to walk in within the middle of a free concert held by American students. We enjoyed the concert for about 20 minutes (till the end) and during this time we heard the choir and various musical instruments including the organ.
When the concert ended I made several interior shots of this beautiful Baroque Roman Catholic parish church.
Austrian National Library
Next, we headed to Austrian National Library.
The library is located in the Hofburg Palace, which is about 10-minute walk from St. Peter’s Church. Austrian National Library is the largest library in Austria, with 7.4 million items. The library complex includes four museums (there are different tickets for each one), as well as multiple special collections and archives. We visited only the State Hall.
The State Hall – built in the 18th century as part of the former Court Library – is a breathtaking 80 meters long and 20 meters high. An intricately decorated dome and numerous frescos provide an Imperial flair. This baroque jewel is home to over 200,000 tomes.
Source: Official Site
If you love old maps and globes then consider visiting Map collection and Globe Museum that’s located nearby.
Evening Walk in Vienna
When we finished our visit at Austrian National Library it was around 5 pm. Because we couldn’t visit anything else, we decided to walk around the city and absorb the atmosphere.
Though there are many horses, the streets are clean. Later I noticed that between each horse and a carriage there is a big bag, basically, it is a horse’s diapers.
Rathaus or the is the city hall of Vienna:
It is a beautiful and enormous building in a Neo-Gothic style. Many event and festivals are held on the square in front of it, but unfortunately, there was nothing on that day.
Second Day In Vienna
Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna. Therefore I ordered Classic Pass tickets online several weeks before our visit.
One of the problems in buying tickets in advance is that you don’t know the weather, and it was a rainy day.
We did the Grand Tour of the Palace with an audio guide. It took about an hour and unfortunately, I can’t show anything. Photographing inside is prohibited. Thus, I photographed this postcard stand to at least give you a feeling.
Though most people consider it as a must visit attraction in Vienna, it is hard for me to agree. I agree with this statement if you haven’t visited other palaces in Austria or in Europe. But, if been to others, like Eggenberg Palace in Graz, then this will be more of the same. For me, it didn’t have wow effect and didn’t leave a memorable experience.
In front of Schönbrunn Palace, there was a small Easter market. We made a short stroll and tasted local food.
The Gardens And Gloriette
We walked around the palace and in the distance on a mountain we saw the Gloriette. Since we already paid for the tickets to the Gloriette with viewing terrace, and they say it offers a great panorama of the city, I dragged my wife there.
We climbed on the roof of the Gloriette and I created this Cinemagraph:
From the palace, we went back to the subway station and headed to:
Natural History Museum
Museums are a good place to hide in bad weather and since we planned to visit the Natural History Museum anyway, we decided to do it at this point.
One of the most famous exhibition in the department of prehistory is:
Venus of Willendorf
The Venus of Willendorf is an 11.1-centimetre-high (4.4 in) Venus figurine estimated to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. It was found in 1908 by a workman named Johann Veran or Josef Veram during excavations conducted by archaeologists Josef Szombathy, Hugo Obermaier and Josef Bayer at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the town of Krems. It is carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre.
Very little is known about Venus of Willendorf, but we can deduce different things from the fact that similar figures were found from France to Russia. People at around 30,000 BCE had abstract thinking, lived in communities, used tools and many others. Or shortly, they were more advanced than many initially thought.
Ritually damaged helmets are one of the history’s riddles that modern scientists can’t answer. We still not sure why it was done.
Many archeologists believe that it was some kind of a ritual and maybe had religious significance to the Bronze Age people. But, there is also a theory saying it was made in order to control the amount of bronze on the market and thus control bronze’s price.
It was getting late and we were mostly interested in the exhibits on the first floor, thus we skipped the second floor.
As I mentioned it was getting late and we decided to finish it for today. But, don’t worry, Vienna’s second part is coming.
Note: all posts from the trip to Austria can be found at 11 Days in Austria.