Vienna, Austria, well known as the birth place of the Viennese Waltz and the Vienna Boys Choir, but also seeped in history as it played a pinnacle host to some of the World’s most talented and illustrious composers ever to grace this planet. The classical music capital city of Vienna drew Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss (Senior and Junior), Shubert and Brahms, and so many others to hallowed concert halls and glittering salons. It is easy to forget, in the shadow of the city’s great history, that Vienna is also one of the top metropolitan areas in all of Europe. This formally regal grande dame has given way to a dynamic and modern city space, and to see the original old city, snuggle up in between its modern counterpart, is just one of the attractions. Here are 10 Enthusiastic and Convincing Reasons to Visit Vienna.
1. St. Stephen’s Catherdral (Stephansdom)
As far back as the 12th Century, Churches have been a significant presence in the area. This magnificent Cathedral was where Mozart married his wife, Constanze Weber, on the 4 August, 1782. Two out of his six children were baptized here and Mozart was buried here on the 7 December, 1791. The tour of the catacombs under the Church is an experience that will leave you mesmerized.
2. The Spanish Riding School
A seriously impressive display of control, patience and discipline, the High School Arts of Rising make the disciplines of show jumping and dressage look like child’s play, as riders take perfection up a notch in these unbelievable performances on the famous Lipizzaner Stallions. Although the shows only take place on the weekend, you may be lucky enough to get cheaper tickets to watch their weekday rehearsals, which includes a tour of the museum after.
3. Julius Meinl’s Gourmet Paradise
A walk to the end of the Graben, will bring you to the epicurean delights of Julius Meinl am Graben. It’s earned a fine reputation for his excellent selection of imported tea, coffee and gourmet feasts that will overwhelm the senses. Meinl’s is one of Vienna’s finest restaurants, and is centrally located, that you will literally not be able to miss it. Don’t expect to leave with much money in your wallet, but it will be worth every cent.
4. Moarthaus – Figarohaus
Located just behind the Stefansdom, a short walk will bring you to the seven roomed house that used to be Mozart’s home. A very interesting tour through the home will show you the rooms where the great composer wrote The Marriage of Figaro. The oddly decorated rooms conjure up mysterious questions, as some of them are elaborate and completely opulently dressed way more than was the norm, and were mostly never used.
5. The Vienna Prater
With more than 250 entertaining attractions the Prater is home to a pleasing mix of modern amusement park standards and the nostalgic, including a vintage merry go round. Of course, the iconic Ferris wheel is found here too. Surrounded by the Green Prater, the large and lush forests, previously the imperial hunting area of Emperors is a haven for horse riders, runners, cyclists and dog walkers.
6. State Opera House: Staatsoper
Most definitely one of Vienna’s historic cultural pillars, the majestic building of the Vienna State Opera is a sight to behold, and is alone one of the best reasons to visit Vienna. If you are not willing to part with €150 for a single ticket, hang around at the box office around 2 hours before the show and if you are lucky you can get a ticket for just €4. The extremely high standards of the musical talent that you will be witness to make the cheap, standing tickets worth every minute your feet are sore.
6. Schonbrunn Palace
Built over a 14 year period between 1696 and 1712, this 1441 roomed imperial residence was built for Emperor Leopold I for his son, Joseph, and was intended to be more opulent than the Palace of Versailles. But because the Austrian money ran out when they overspent on the war, those over the top plans never materialized. What was undertaken as a second choice is so incredible, so ornate and regal, that it begs the very real question of what exactly would it have looked like had the treasury had the money?
7. The Museums Quarter (MQ)
The centre for the dynamic visual arts and culture sector of Vienna, the Museums Quarter started out life as the Imperial Stables of the Hofburg Empire in the 18th Century. The Leopold Museum remains a firm favorite among visitors and families of all ages, with its unbelievable collection of expressionist artists and their contemporaries. Plenty of places in between and along the way, to rest weary feet and refuel on some of Vienna’s finest coffees and scrumptious cakes, and most certainly one of the best reasons to visit Vienna.
8. Tiergarten Schonbrunner – Zoo
One of greatest attractions for children and adults of all ages, the Vienna Zoo, will enthrall you, and totally diminish any boring thoughts of what a zoo may be like. Pristine, organized and the exhibits are massive. Wolves, hippos, giraffes, lions, monkeys, they are all there. You need to take an entire day to see everything, especially if you have small kids with you. Plenty of sidewalk cafes full of refreshments along the way.
9. The Imperial Apartments of Hofburg
The original apartments belonging to Emperor Franz Josef I and his wife, Empress Elizabeth, impressive and other worldly, the apartments resonate with the eccentricities of the times. Showing separate apartments for both the Emperor and Empress, should the Emperor have wished to take and audience with his wife, he had to ring a bell (still there) a maidservant would appear and he would be required to convey the purpose of his audience, and the maid servant would relay the request, which was mostly denied by the Empress!
Whatever your reasons for visiting Vienna, a trip into the historic city can certainly not be complete without a visit to the Musikverien, the famous Viennese Concert Hall. Built by the very Emperor that had to ring a bell to talk to his wife, the famous hall has a definitive reputation for having some of the best acoustics in the world. Home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the critically acclaimed annual Vienna New Years Eve concert is held here every year.
Although the Habsburg Empire Reign of Imperial splendor came to an abrupt halt in 1918, the evidence of its once regal, almost currently regal statute is everywhere in Vienna. The Grand Dame of Austria stubbornly refuses to remove her airs and graces, although she reluctantly gave way a few modern amenities. There are thousands of reasons to visit Vienna, and the abundance of grace and opulent history is most certainly a huge draw card to the city. Even though there may be 10 Enthusiastic and Convincing Reasons to Visit Vienna, there are plenty, plenty more. What are your favorite reasons for visiting Vienna? Mine’s the sachertorte and apricot liquer :)
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