Vienna, Austria



Sights in Vienna

Vienna is the capital of Austria, and a must visit on any modern day Grand Tour of Europe.  Vienna is famous for its past as the Imperial capital of the Habsburg Empire which ruled much of Europe.  However, today a walk through the bustling old town of Vienna shows three facades.  Evidence of the Middle Ages is shown with the gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral which is one of the most recognizable sights in the city.  Much of the city was built during the Baroque period, including the famous Hofburg.  Finally, the late 19th century was a revitalization for Vienna and Art Nouveau had many of its roots here. 

Below you will find information about the top sights in Vienna.  We recommend a minimum of three nights and two full days to explore Vienna. 

The Hofburg- The Hofburg was the winter residence of the Habsburg Emperors from 1278 until 1918.  Today, it is not just one sight, it is a series of buildings and squares that contain many of the top sights in Vienna.  Easily a full day can be spent at the Hofburg.  Please follow this link for a description of the important sights located in the Hofburg.

Schönbrunn Palace- Please follow this link for a description of Schönbrunn Palace.

St. Stephen's Cathedral- Originally a Romanesque church was built on this spot in 1137.  The church was named after the Patron Saint Stephen of Passau because at that time Vienna was smaller then Passau and a part of its diocese.  The church was destroyed and the gothic building that we see today was built between 1360 and 1440.  The south spire is of gothic style and is about 410 feet high.  For a magnificent view of the city you can climb 343 steps into the tower.  The north spire was never completed because of the Reformation and wars with the Turks.  Eventually a renaissance dome was added and today it holds a cast of the original bell.  You can take an elevator to the top of the much shorter tower.  After a fire damaged the church in 1945, the roof was replaced with over 250,000 glazed roof tiles.  The interior is a combination of gothic pulpits, baroque altars and original stained glass windows (behind the main alter).

Belvedere- This baroque palace was built as a summer home for Prince Eugene of Savoy from 1714 to 1725.  Today it houses two important museums.  The Austrian Gallery of the 19th and 20th centuries is in the Upper Belvedere and a highlight is Gustav Klimt's The Kiss.  The Lower Belvedere is the location of the Austrian Baroque Museum.  The palace exteriors, gardens and views of Vienna make it worth the visit alone.  On summer evenings there are sound and light performances. 

Albertina Museum- The Albertina has one of the world's largest collections of graphic art, including line drawings and prints.

Secession- The Secession is a small museum that was built in 1897 as an exhibition center for Viennese Art Nouveau artists.  Today temporary exhibits are held here.  The interior highlight is Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze (1902).  However, the exterior of the building is a small lesson in art itself.

The Ringstrasse or Ring Road- In the 16th century, bastions were built around the city of Vienna to serve as an even better defense than the earlier medieval walls.  In 1858 these walls were torn down to build a ring road around the central core of the city.  The area within this ring road is considered the old city of Vienna.  Please follow this link for a Ringstrasse Tour

Cafe Life- Vienna is of course famous with its traditional coffee houses and no visit to Vienna would be complete without spending time in one.  Undoubtedly one of the most famous, and expensive, is located in the Hotel Sacher, which is known for its Sachertorte (chocolate cake).  Other traditional and popular places include Diglas and Café Central.

Prater- The Prater is a year round amusement park.  The highlight is the famous Big Wheel which is about 200 feet high.  One rotation take about 20 minutes allowing nice views of the city and Vienna Woods.  The Ferris Wheel was featured in the film The Third Man and has become one of the symbols of Vienna.

The Danube- The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe.  While Vienna is well associated with the Danube, the river does not pass through the center of the old city of Vienna.  A visit to see the Danube in Vienna shows you the modern side of this vibrant city.  You'll find the Millennium Tower, Austria's tallest building and the Copa Cagrana with its bars and discos.  Also near the Danube is the Danube Park and tower.  This 750 foot tower houses a revolving restaurant and viewing terrace.  Learn about River Cruises.

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