Trip Start Jan 07, 2004
11Trip End Jan 27, 2004
Regal, imperial and cultured. Vienna was the capital of the vast Hapsburg's empire in central Europe for over 600 years. Today it's a definite step out of Eastern Europe. New world charm has some appeal too.
The palaces in Vienna are what caught me eye. The most lavish is probably Schoenbrunn, the summer residence of the Hapsburgs. The interior is filled with over 1,400 rooms, primarily with rococo design. Kennedy and Kruschev secretly met here during the cold war. The exterior has large sculpted gardens. Wintertime doesn't offer a lot of color outside. But smaller crowds make tours much more amiable.
The last of the ruling Hapsburgs were Franz Joseph and his wife Sissy
The Hofburg Palace provides a better look into royal life. The Imperial Silver & Porcelain Collection displays the elegant kitchenware of the Hapsburgs. The Treasury boasts the best collection of crown jewels in Europe. And its home to one of Austria's most familiar icons, the Vienna Boys Choir.
Again I'm amazed at the architecture. St Stephen's Cathedral took over 200 years to build. The stones at the base measure several feet in every direction. How did they elevate stones this large to enclose a structure up to 135 meters high?
A fun side trip was the Kunsthistorisches Museum, home of the royal art collection. Even the lobby and staircases are beautiful. It was my first time seeing works by well-known artists like Rembrandt, Rubens and Brueghel. Which ones were famous...I have no idea. But still interesting to view so many different paintings up close. Some are larger than walls of my home.