OK Vienna, you’ve impressed me

My architecture appreciation circuits have blown. I’ve seen magnificent buildings before, but not quite on the scale and number as to be found in the Austrian capital. It seems that everywhere you go you are surrounded by amazing architecture and statues. I had a good long day of sightseeing, starting at the Hofburg complex, which used to house the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The president of Austria currently resides here.

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After a stroll through the palace gardens I found myself at the old Rathaus (city hall), and I have to say its the biggest and most impressive Rathaus I’ve ever seen. The facade towers above the surrounding park, its spire reaching a height of 97.9m. At the top stands the banner-wielding Rathausmann, a replica of which is now situated in the park below.

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The city hall is open to visitors and free of charge, and I was able to explore inside on my own and take some pictures. At least, I think I was allowed to. Nobody tried to stop me. Navigation inside the hall was difficult, as nothing was signposted and the map I picked up at the tourist centre unhelpfully didn’t differentiate between floors. Despite this, I managed to find some cool state rooms, including the grand staircases in each wing of the building.

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There are so many incredible buildings here in Vienna, this post could go on for pages. Another highlight was the parliament building just down the road from the city hall. Smaller than the Reichstag in Berlin, but no less grand, the building resembles some kind of Roman palace, adorned with sculptures and fronted with a towering gilded fountain. Certainly the most impressive seat of government I’ve seen on my travels.

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I had planned to take the tourist tram around the Ringstrasse, which features an audio guide to the city’s key sights. However, I decided to buy a ticket on the ordinary tram (affectionately called the ‘Bim’ by locals) and make my own way round. I checked out the home of Beethoven, where he composed much of his music. I managed to request a ticket in German, and understand the ticket clerk when he asked me if I was a student. ‘Nein, nein’, I replied. He then said something incomprehensible, so I had to resort to English. ‘Oh, but your German is perfect!’ he exclaimed. I’d only said a few words but I guess they were accurately pronounced!

Perhaps the most impressive building on my brief tour was the Votive church, which has an interesting story behind it. After Emperor Franz Joseph was attacked by a Hungarian nationalist, the Emperor’s brother ordered this church to be constructed on the site of the failed assassination, to thank God for saving his life.

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I also found the oldest church in Vienna, Ruprectskirche, rumoured to be a thousand years old! Unfortunately it was locked, but it was quite a sight from the outside: a small stone building covered with ivy and sandwiched between much larger newer buildings. A statue of St Ruprect stands outside.

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And that’s just a sampling of the highlights. There are so many sights like this to see on just about every street in the inner city. That said, I didn’t do much rather than walk around ogling the sights. I need a break from buildings now before I move onto the next place!

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11 Responses to OK Vienna, you’ve impressed me

  1. restlessjo says:

    Looks good. I’ve never known if I would be impressed with Vienna or if it would be stuffy?

    • nontraveller says:

      Hi Jo,

      I only spent a couple of days in Vienna and that was enough, but if you’re planning a trip to Austria or nearby, you should check it out. Be warned that it’s very expensive! I don’t know what happened to all the euros I was carrying as I passed through!

  2. Grandma Josie says:

    Really enjoyed your blogs. Austria is somewhere I have longed travel to. So, I look forward to seeing your photo’s when your visit is over.

    • nontraveller says:

      Hi Grandma, loving Austria! Very expensive all though I’ve met some great people here. I’ve got loads of photos to share, I took so many here my camera ran out of battery before the day was up!

  3. Gillian Evans says:

    Hello Mark,
    Your mother has just infomed us of your tour, so haven’t been able to read your whole journey so far. Are you planning to write a book at the end of it?

    • nontraveller says:

      Hi Gillian, thanks for reading. You can catch up with all my previous posts on this page. They’re in order of most recent, so you might want to scroll down to the bottom and read them in reverse order! I might collate all the posts into a printable version when I get back.

      -Mark

  4. Karen says:

    Just wondering where you’ll be next!

  5. I am familiar with that concern – am I allowed to take photos or not? Interestingly, the only time I have been rebuked for doing so was in a supermarket in Zurich. Very odd.

    • nontraveller says:

      I’ve been told off for taking phone pictures in art galleries. I never quite understood why, but I think it’s because they want you to buy the souvenir postcards.

    • My experience with large galleries is that they don’t mind so long as you don’t use a flash. Perhaps smaller galleries with living artists are protecting the artist’s ideas. Souvenir postcards are usually better than I can capture anyway.

    • nontraveller says:

      I’m sure I’ve been scolded just for holding my phone suggestively in a Van Gogh exhibition. I can understand copyright concerns for living artists, though.

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