Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vienna, Austria's beautiful capital city

In December 2011 we spent a great long weekend in the stunning city of Vienna. We stayed in the Radisson Blue Palais Hotel, the location was great but the service for a five star hotel was poor. Maybe we were just unlucky however this is one hotel that doesn't make it onto Our Favourites list. We had three full days in Vienna however you could easily fill a week as there is a lot to do and see. December is a great time to visit the city as you get the added benefit of being able to enjoy the Christmas Markets. central Vienna includes the Inner City demarcated by Ringstrasse (Ring) and Franz-Josefs-Kai, plus the the area between Ring and Gurtel which is Vienna's second ring road. We spent our time enjoying the Inner City.


The origins of the district around Stephansdom date back to the 13th century, but much of it was changed in the 17th and 18th centuries when many churches and public buildings were refashioned in the spirit of the increasingly powerful Habsburg monarchy. Narrow, medieval alleys adjoin monumental Baroque structures and bourgeois townhouses, whose ground floors are often occupied by shops, cafes and restaurants. This is a great area to explore by day and by night.

St Peter's church, one of the oldest in Vienna, was according to legend founded in 792 by Charlemagne, as commemorated in a marble relief on the church's facade. The Chapel of St Michael, the first on the right contains a glass coffin with the relics of St Benedict. One of the many attractions of Vienna is the wonderful traditional cafes and their lovely assortment of pastries and mouth watering cakes, so when your feet are getting tired and sugar levels are low, be sure and check one out.

One of the highlights for us was the area around the amazing Hofburg Complex, this was the former Emperor's residence, a permanent reminder of the glory of the Habsburg Empire. This part of Vienna is one of the capital's most fashionable and lively areas, both during the daytime and at night when the former palace rooms serve as theatre and concert halls.

The Hofburg Complex
In this area you'll find many famous sights such as the Albertina art museum, Alte Burg and Josefplatz as well as the world reknowned Spanish Riding School. We visited the Silberkammer, a stunning display of silver, gold and porcelain tableware and vessels used at official receptions. You'll find the Silberkammer in the Alte Burg along with the tour of Franz Joseph's apartments and the Sisi Museum. Try not to miss either tour as they are both well worth a visit.

Inside the Silberkammer, seeing is believing!

The Albertina was once the Hapsburg palace of Duke Albert of Sachsen-Teschen and his wife Archduchess Marie-Christina. Today it houses one of the world's finest collections of graphics including works by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Durer, Rubens, and Manet. It is also home to the Sammlung Batliner, a collection of paintings under the motto "Monet to Picasso". As you can imagine the Albertina is very popular so to avoid the queues try and book your tickets or but them the previous day.


Now time for a little break from historic Vienna to take a peek at Vienna's Christmas Markets, enjoy as we really did.

It's always hard to choose a favourite travel destination, that said Vienna must be close to the top of our list as it offers so much to do and see. Below are a few final shots from this wonderful city. For a great meal check out Restaurant Danieli on Himmelpfortgasse, it gets very busy so try and book a table.