Budapest, Vienna and Salzburg | Part Two

Three Cities, two countries, one weekend.

On October 7-9, I took a whirlwind trip through Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg. This post will focus on day two: Vienna.

You know you’ve found a special place when immediately upon arrival, you decide you want to go back.

 

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The Kunsthistorisches Museum, or, Fine Arts Museum. It houses some of the most famous works of art in the world, by artists from Carravaggio to Rubens to Raphael.

After having breakfast at our hostel in Budapest, we boarded a bus bound for Austria. We journeyed through the types of villages and hillsides that only ever seem to exist in movies or fairy tales, until you see them in real life.

Then, just before lunch, we arrived in Vienna. We fueled up, made some plans for the rest of the day, then joined a local tour guide for a walking tour of the city.

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Stephansdom – Saint Stephen’s Cathedral – is perhaps the most recognizable Viennese building. It’s located in the heart of Vienna, in a square known as Stephansplatz.
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Stephansdom was originally built in the 12th century, and has of course undergone many renovations since then. One of the more recent of these reconstructions was after WWII, when the church was badly damaged by fire.
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Stephansplatz is full of shops and restaurants.
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Katholische Kirche St. Peter – St. Peter’s Church – was built on the site of the earliest church in Vienna, dating back to the middle ages.
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Our tour guide took us to a somewhat hidden gem of Vienna – the Demel pastry and chocolate shop. It’s been in operation since 1786.
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Inside, you can see bakers and confectioners preparing Demel’s famous treats. They’re famous because of their high esteem among famous clients – including the Austrian Imperial Court, several U.S. presidents, and countless celebrities from around the world.
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In the basement is a museum, featuring many of the (once) edible window displays used in the cafe. They commemorate events from seasons and holidays to visits from politicians and weddings of royals.
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The facade of the Hofburg Palace, the sprawling former residence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now, among other purposes, it’s home to several museums and the acting presidents of Austria.
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The architecture in Vienna was so interesting.
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Inside the main entrance to the Hofburg Palace.
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After passing through the main entrance, we were led into a court, built gradually over time as the Imperial family expanded. This is where the modern-day presidents of Austria live. However, our guide informed us that at the time of our tour, Austria did not have a president, so the presidential quarters were vacant.
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More from inside the court.
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We caught a quick peek at the detailing on St. Stephen’s Cathedral as we walked through Vienna’s streets.
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The Sala Terrena, a small room that Mozart took a liking to during his days in Vienna. He frequently gave concerts here.
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The steeple of St. Stephen’s Cathedral rises above the city.
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St. Anne’s Church might seem plain on the outside in comparison to some of Vienna’s other churches, but just wait til you see the inside…
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We saw lots of people preparing for a wedding in St. Anne’s that day. What a setting!

We learned so much about the city’s history and culture on that tour. My favorite fun fact was that Vienna’s schools still teach their students how to ballroom dance while they’re in high school, and that the city and its opera still hold annual balls each year. Think big gowns, Viennese waltz, princess-type balls. Our tour guide’s son even opened one last year – she told us about how proud she was when he was chosen. It sounded like a scene out of a Disney movie!

After the tour was over, my friends and I made our way to the Kunsthistorisches Museum – the Fine Arts Museum of Vienna. It houses some of the most important and well-renowned works of art in the world, compiled over many years by the members of the imperial Austrian court.

The building that houses the collection was commissioned specifically for the collection by the Austrian Emperor in 1891.
The building that houses the collection was commissioned specifically for the collection by the Austrian Emperor in 1891.
The inside took our breath away. It's so beautifully decorated with marble and other precious stones - the perfect place for this couple's wedding photo shoot!
The inside took our breath away. It’s so beautifully decorated with marble and other precious stones – the perfect place for this couple’s wedding photo shoot!
The main rotunda of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is home to a cafe, and is topped with an almost 200-foot-tall cupola.
The main rotunda of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is home to a cafe, and is topped with an almost 200-foot-tall cupola.
Velázquez's portrait of Infanta Margarita Teresa
Velázquez’s portrait of Infanta Margarita Teresa
A room filled with paintings by famed artist Caravaggio and his contemporaries.
A room filled with paintings by famed artist Caravaggio and his contemporaries.
Raphael's Madonna of the Rosary
Raphael’s Madonna of the Rosary
Pieter Brueghel's Tower of Babel
Pieter Brueghel’s Tower of Babel

The museum closed at 6:00, giving us just enough time to see the whole thing. And, what’s more, when we finished, it was time for dinner! We’d been told about some of the traditional Austrian dishes, and were eager to try one of the most famous – wiener schnitzel. That plus warm cherry tea made for a hearty fall dinner to offset the cool temperatures.

Full and satisfied, we set off for a walk around the city to see all of the beautiful buildings lit up at night.

The steeple of Votivkirche, a church built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian to thank God for saving his brother (Emperor Franz Joseph) after an 1853 assassination attempt.
The steeple of Votivkirche, a church built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian to thank God for saving his brother (Emperor Franz Joseph) after an 1853 assassination attempt.
Rathaus, the city hall of Vienna.
Rathaus, the city hall of Vienna.
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This Neo-Gothic-style building took over ten years to build, finally being completed in 1883.
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Perfect day to visit – the circus was in town!
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Neue Burg, a palace wing connected to the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Aside from its reputation and history of elegant music, art, and dance, Vienna is famous for another thing – the sachertorte. It’s a certain type of chocolate cake made with dark chocolate icing and apricot spread, known for being incredibly rich and flavorful. So, we thought, what better way to end a day in Vienna than with a slice of its own culinary specialty, right in the cafe where it all began?

The perfect end to a wonderful day in Vienna.
The perfect end to a wonderful day in Vienna.

Unfortunately, one day in Vienna was simply not enough. There are so many more museums, churches, and important historical sites that I still want to explore, plus the famous Viennese musicians and dancers who I’d love to see perform!

I guess that means I’ll just have to go back one day!

 

 

Gelato Count: 33

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