Things to Do in Vienna - page 3
Mozart had multiple residences in Vienna, but only one survived to the present day. The Mozarthaus Vienna at Domgasse 5 served as the composer’s home from 1784 to 1787, during the height of his musical success. Within his first-floor apartment, Mozart penned some of his most iconic works, like the opera The Marriage of Figaro.
Audio-guided tours of the house begin on the building’s top floor, where exhibits explain the lifestyle and prominent figures of society life in eighteenth century Vienna. Heading down a floor, visitors are immersed in all things music; a highlight is a holographic performance of a portion of The Magic Flute. On the ground floor, visitors enter Mozart’s bedroom, furnished with pieces from the time to give a sense of what his living quarters might have looked like.
In Vienna’s Alsergrund district, the two imposing towers of the Votive Church (Votivkirche) welcome travelers to the city. The Votive Church is one of the most important neo-Gothic buildings in the world and is the second highest building in the city, right after the St. Stephen’s Church. As pretty as the church looks, the reason for its construction was actually a failed assassination attempt on the Habsburg Emperor. On the 18th of February 1853, tailor Janos Libenyi attacked young Franz Joseph I with a dagger, but the assassination attempt failed and the emperor survived. In gratitude for the salvation of His Majesty, his brother, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, called for a fundraiser to build a new church in Vienna. Soon after, construction began on the votive offering, a monumental white cathedral with rose windows, gabled portals and delicate spires and buttresses.
The interior of the Church shines with numerous chapels and altars. Most impressive are the main altar with the elaborately painted baldacchino, the octagonal baptismal made of Egyptian marble and a masterful Flemish woodcarving showing different scenes from the Passion. A special feature is also the Walcker-Organ, a beautiful instrument built in 1878 that is largely preserved in its original state.
The Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK) is one of the largest museums of modern and post-modern art in Central Europe. Founded in 1962, the museum features 10,000 pieces by 1,600 different artists, including some of the biggest names in 20th- and 21st-century art, like Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Gergard Richter and Yoko Ono. Classical modernism, nouveau realism, Vienna Actionism, photorealism and pop art are all represented.
The museum’s Wednesday evening film program screens thematic film series and films related to the works of art on display. Visitors inspired by the art on display have the chance to participate in hands-on workshops to experiment with various artistic techniques. Once per month, Art on Thursdays invites guests to enjoy a glass of sparkling wine before taking a gallery tour.
The Augarten Porcelain Manufactory (Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten), founded in 1718 as the second oldest porcelain manufactory in Europe, has been making and painting porcelain by hand for nearly three centuries. One wing of the factory houses the Augarten Porcelain Museum, where visitors can see one of the company’s original kilns stretching across both floors of exhibition space.
Beginning on the upper floor, guests make their way through galleries illustrating the history of Augarten and Viennese porcelain. The more than 150 pieces on display show the evolution of the art over the years, while hands-on displays let guests touch samples of porcelain ingredients: kaolin (clay), feldspar (stone) and quartz. The first floor of the museum focuses on the company’s porcelain-making history through the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna is widely regarded as one of the best in the world and is certainly the oldest and the most beautiful. Established in 1752 by the Habsburg Imperial Family, the zoo has a circular layout that spirals outwards from an elegant Baroque pavilion and a reputation for successful conservation and breeding of some of the world’s most endangered species, including Siberian tigers, rhinos and giant pandas. In 1904, a glass-and-steel hothouse was built in Art Nouveau style to protect the vast collection of rare tropical plants owned by Emperor Franz Joseph I; over a century later this hothouse has been renovated and transformed into a show-home for cacti and other water-retaining succulents from arid regions across the world. Desert animals and birds such as lizards and humming birds roam free in the Desert House (Wüstenhaus), and there are several enclosures containing snakes and bizarre desert mole rats, which resemble a cross between a tiny walrus and a hairless rabbit. Equally eccentric is the Welwitschia tree from the Namibian desert, which has long, droopy fronds and grows in an untidy heap along the ground; it can live for up to 1,500 years.
Hoher Markt is Vienna’s oldest town square, dating way back to Roman times; soon after World War II, sections of the Roman military camp of Vindobona were found below the cobbles and artifacts from these remains are now displayed in the Museum of Rome at No. 3. In the middle of the square stands the marble Baroque Vermählungsbrunnen (Wedding Fountain), designed by Baroque master-craftsman Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach in 1706 to commemorate the marriage of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa to Franz Stephan of Lorraine; it sits under an ornate bronze baldacchino.
However, the architectural highlight of Hoher Markt is the fanciful bronze-and-copper Ankeruhr (Anchor Clock) completed in 1917 by Franz von Matsch, the Jugendstil designer who was a contemporary of Gustave Klimt. It forms a 10-meter (39-foot) bridge abutting two vast townhouses then owned by the Anker Insurance Company and the clock face is four meters (13 feet) wide, portraying 12 copper figures from Vienna’s past, including Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who probably died at Vindobona; Charlemagne, King of the Franks; Emperor Maximilian I; Prince Eugene of Savoy; and Baroque composer Joseph Haydn. These copper figures form a carillon, with one figure emerging every hour accompanied by symbolic music; at midday all 12 appear in rotation.
Set against a backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Schönbrunn Palace, the Schönbrunn Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn) is the world’s oldest zoo, dating back to 1752. Today, the park houses some 750 species, including rhinos, polar bears, and pandas, and focuses on the conservation and protection of endangered species.
Vienna’s Augarten is a public park in Leopoldstadt, home to a former Imperial palace of the same name and several other buildings of note. The grounds themselves cover 52.2 hectares and are Baroque in design, remodeled from previous gardens in the early 18th century for the ever-acquisitive Habsburg Emperor Joseph II. The court architect Isidore Canevale was responsible for planting hundreds of trees that now provide the shady pathways as well as the layout out the formal flowerbeds. Facilities for visiting families in the gardens today include paddling pools, sports fields and a couple of restaurants, including Décor, rather fabulously sited in a former Nazi anti-aircraft bunker.
Other attractions in Augarten include the spectacular Baroque palace, now the winter home of the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir; a contemporary art gallery that is an outpost of the Belvedere; a film archive; and a Jewish study center. The star attraction of the park, however, is the Augarten Porcelain Museum, housed in a wing of a factory founded in 1718 and still going strong today. Exhibits include elaborate and historic pieces commissioned by the Imperial Family alongside more contemporary figures in Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles.
An apartment located in Vienna’s suburb of Heiligenstadt, away from the bustle of the city, holds special meaning for many musicians. Here, Ludwig van Beethoven composed many of his famous symphonies and sonatas. In 1802, the composer retreated to this apartment in the countryside and wrote a letter to his brothers. In the famous unsent document, called the Heiligenstädter Testament, Beethoven expressed his despair over his advancing deafness. In the letter, he describes what it was like to be going deaf, he dealt with feelings of deep anger, and ultimately he found a way to continue with his life and his music. Other exhibits at the Beethoven Museum (or Beethoven Museum in Heiligenstadt) take a look at the compositions he created in the summer of 1802, and show the visitor what the area of Heiligenstadt was like at that time. Another room in the apartment examines the composer’s last months of life – and his death in the Schwarzspanierhaus (which no longer exists). The apartment’s rooms remain intact, and visitors can really get a sense of why this place was a calm writing retreat for the famous classical composer.
Starting life in the Middle Ages as a civic garbage tip, Freyung Square has morphed down the centuries into one of Vienna’s prettiest public piazzas. It’s a triangular cobbled space dominated by the Austriabrunnen (Austria Fountain), which was gifted to Vienna in the 1840s by sculptor Ludwig Schwanthaler. The cobbles are bordered by the medieval monastery of Schottenkirche and – thanks to its location not far from the Hofburg Imperial Palace – a smattering of elegant Baroque palaces built by royal courtiers, including the ornately decorated yellow-and-white stucco façade of Palace Daun-Kinsky, which dates from 1717. The Ferstel Palace was built in 1860 and is home to Vienna’s famous Café Central as well as the upmarket, arcaded Freyung Passage shopping mall; nearby the Bank Austria Kuntsforum holds frequent cutting-edge contemporary-art exhibitions.
Freyung Square is also the venue for two of Vienna’s most popular and traditional seasonal markets; the weeks before Christmas herald an advent market dating back to 1772. At Easter the stalls appear again for two weeks, selling delicate hand-painted Easter eggs by the thousands as well as Easter palm fronds; there’s also a puppet theater and craft workshops for kids.
More Things to Do in Vienna
The lovely green, gold and white-marble pavilion on Vienna’s Karlsplatz has finally found a new purpose in life; designed by Otto Wagner in 1897 as part of the city’s new train station, it has now become the permanent home to an exhibition on the life of this extraordinary, forward-thinking Art Nouveau architect. The revamped interior of the Otto Wagner Pavillion Karlsplatz presents a detailed look at Wagner’s architectural legacy to Vienna, including churches and private houses as well as the Russian Embassy, which he completed in 1886. The museum also acts as a springboard to other Wagner-related sites around the city, such as his monumental Post Office Savings Bank on the palatial Ringstrasse.
In the Museumquarter, between the Leopold and MUMOK, is the Kunsthalle, or Art Hall, a collection of exhibition halls showcasing local and international contemporary art. Its high ceilings, open space and pure functionality have seen the venue rated among the top institutions for exhibitions in Europe. Programs, which run for 3 to 6 months, tend to focus on photography, video, film, installations and new media.
The concept behind the gallery is to foster new and exciting trends and experiments in contemporary art so expect the unexpected..
Music lovers inspired to hear Mozart performed in Vienna find few venues that compare to the intimate Sala Terrena, at the House of the Teutonic Order (Deutschordenshaus). The ornate room has Venetian-style frescoes and seats only about 50 guests, making it a truly special place to hear the Austrian composer's works.
The Remise Transport Museum (Verkehrsmuseum Remise) is a museum about the history of public transport in Vienna, Austria. It is situated on the site of a former tram depot (“remise” means “depot” in German), which was built in 1901 in Vienna’s Erdberg district, and was still an operational tram station until 1990. It documents 150 years of public transport in Vienna via 14 different themed exhibits, highlighting everything between horse-drawn trams to the more modern underground network. It opened on September 13, 2004. The museum helps visitors understand the role of public transport in the development of the city and the everyday lives of people, and provides a behind-the-scenes look inside the operations of public transport; for example, visitors can experience the routes of the five subway lines as the driver sees them thanks to a multimedia subway simulator.
Visitors are also taken on a journey through time with historical vehicles on display such as a steam train, an old double-decker bus, and a city train carriage. A bus that plunged into the Danube following the collapse of the Reichsbrücke Bridge in 1976 is also exhibited.
Situated on Vienna’s lovely (and triangular) Freyung Square, the present incarnation of the Bank Austria Kunstforum dates from 1988 and was designed with a bizarre Art Deco entrance portal by architect Gustav Peichl. In recent years it has become a major player on the Vienna art scene, as Bank Austria now holds one of the best private collections in Europe, specialising in avant-garde post-WWII work. With an excess of 10,000 pieces of stellar art to call on, the bank sponsors innovative and well-received exhibitions, with recent successes including premier-league shows from big guns Georges Braque, Picasso, Kandinsky, Karel Appel and Magritte. Such has been the success of the venue that it has been extended several times to accommodate more visitors to the exhibitions. The Kunstforum also exhibits the Bank Austria photography archive, with around 400 images from great names such as Diane Arbus, Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Housed in two buildings connected by a modern ticket office, the Imperial Furniture Collection (Hofmobiliendepot) forms part of the Kunsthistorischen museums based at the Hofburg Palace. Both museum buildings are notable in their own right; the furniture repository at Mariahilferstrasse 88 was commissioned in 1901 by Emperor Franz Joseph II to store the overspill from the Imperial Family’s vast stockpile of priceless antique furniture. The other half of the museum is found in a simple, Bidermeier-style townhouse dating from the early 19th century.
Able to draw on over 165,000 pieces – the largest collection of furniture in the world – the museum stages changing exhibitions of Empire and Bidermeier furniture interspersed with oddly intimate artifacts such as wheelchairs, displayed in elegant panelled rooms. Among the masterpieces of three centuries of rabid accumulation is the fabulous Egyptian Cabinet, designed for Empress Maria Ludovica in 1812 and complete with ornate carved figures; and several sets taken from 1950s movies featuring the much-loved Empress Elisabeth (nicknamed Sisi), who was assassinated in Geneva in 1898.
The composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) spent the last decade or so of his life in Gumpendorf, just outside of Vienna, composing the majority of his late work – including ‘The Seasons’. Upon the 200th anniversary of his death, his house was restored and is now a museum. The Haydnhaus museum focuses on the last years of the composer’s life, and the permanent exhibitions represent the political and social atmosphere of Austria in the early 19th century when Haydn lived there. The main focus of the exhibit revolves around Haydn’s music, his life, and the end of his years. He was an internationally renowned composer who was celebrated by his colleagues – indeed, he was the most famous composer in all of Europe when he died. Part of the exhibit includes the records and memoirs of the international visitors who came to pay Haydn their respects in his final years. The house’s ground floor displays portraits of Haydn’s guests from those days, and the rooms are divided up as they were in Haydn’s time. The highlight of the Haydnhaus is the small garden, which is modeled after the symmetrical bourgeois gardens of the time.
One of the largest squares in Vienna, Karlsplatz is dominated by the huge, baroque Karlskirche church, which was built between 1716 and 1737 with designs influenced by the architect's visit to Rome. The square is also well known for a pair of pavilions that were created in 1898 and 1899 by Otto Wagner and contain marble slabs and green-painted, wrought-iron frames that are decorated with gold-colored sunflowers and gilded trim.
The western side of the square contains the Secession Building, which is an art museum, and the Naschmarkt, which is Vienna's most popular market. The eastern side of the park is bordered by a park called Resselpark where you can find several statues of famous Austrians. Also near the square are several cultural institutions including the Musikverein, a concert hall that is home to the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Kunstlerhaus, an art gallery and exposition hall. The History Museum of Vienna is located on the eastern side of the square as well.
Built into Vienna’s old city fortifications, the Beethoven Pasqualatihaus was named after its 18th-century owner, Josef Benedikt, the Baron Pasqualati. The musical prodigy Ludwig von Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770 but made his residence in Vienna for 35 years; for eight years from 1804 onwards, the fourth-floor apartment of this whitewashed townhouse was his home. The Romantic composer wrote several symphonies, his opera Fidelio and the famous piece ‘Fur Elise’ while living here. His light, airy suite of rooms have now been transformed into a museum of his life; highlights of the displays include copies of his instruments, various imposing marble busts, manuscripts from the Fifth and Seventh symphonies, personal papers and family paintings as well as the renowned portrait by German artist and musician Willibrord Joseph Mähler in 1804.
The Secession Building is one of the foremost examples of Art Nouveau in Vienna, completed by Joseph Maria Olbrich in 1898, it was designed as an exhibition hall for artist Gustav Klimt and his contemporaries to exhibit their rule-breaking paintings in the new ‘Secession’ style. The squat, gleaming white hall is adorned with gilded patterns and resembles an Egyptian temple with a lacy globe of golden leaves on top. The motto “To each time its art. To art its freedom” is inscribed in gilt over the main entrance. Now regarded as the greatest symbol of Art Nouveau styling in Vienna and included on many architectural walking tours of the city, the building was originally considered scandalous for its modernistic design, which contrasted with the Baroque and Neo-classical beauty of the Imperial palaces and mansions.
The basement of the Secession Building now houses Klimt’s ethereal green-and-goldBeethoven Frieze, which was painted in 1902 as a visual interpretation of the German composer’s Ninth Symphony. The vast painting is full of twisting, elongated female figures and adorns three walls; it measures in at 111.5 ft (34 m) in length. Elsewhere in the light-flooded gallery are temporary exhibitions featuring the experimental work of contemporary artists.
Running for more than 300 kilometers, the Danube Cycle Path (Donauradweg) is a scenic path that follows the Danube River from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria. The road is both smoothly paved and wide, making it popular with cyclists of all ages and skill levels. In fact, it has been called the most popular place for leisure cycling in Europe. In total the bike path passes through nine countries.
With the Danube River flowing on one side and the scenery changing around you on the other, the landscape varies throughout the journey. Mountains, forests, castles, vineyards, and small European villages are common sights. This route passes through the historic Wachau Valley as well as the Austrian town of Linz. Most of the land is sparsely populated and the roads are calm and traffic-free, making this a relaxing way to enjoy the beautiful nature of this region.
Part of the complex of Kunsthistorischen museums at the Hofburg Palace, the Imperial Carriage Museum opened four years after the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was conceived as a home for part of the redundant fleet of 600 vehicles no longer required by the Imperial Family and opened in 1922 in the former Imperial Riding School, presenting the very finest carriages used by the Viennese court, from sedan chairs to ceremonial state coaches. Among the 170 vehicles displayed, highlights include the elaborate black-and-gold embossed coronation landau from 1825 and an ornate, late 19th-century hearse, subtly decorated with painted and carved black flowers.
However, the stars of the show, indicative by their sheer opulence of the wealth and power of the Habsburg dynasty, are the two gold carriages: the golden carousel made in 1742 for Empress Maria Theresia, and the Imperial Carriage, built for Emperor Joseph II in 1764. It is dripping in gilt and covered in ornate paintings and was so heavy that it could only be pulled by a team of eight horses, and then only at walking pace. Along with the vehicles comes a selection of Imperial saddlery, courtly robes and servants’ livery.
The Klosterneuburg Monastery, or Stift Klosterneuburg in Austrian, is an Augustinian abbey founded in 1114. The baroque structure, notable for housing men’s and women’s religious orders until 1568, has undergone several facelifts over the years, most recently in 1892.
The historic abbey dominates the skyline of Klosterneuburg, and the treasures housed within are just as impressive as the structure that contains them. Among the most valuable and impressive pieces is the enameled altar of Nikolaus of Verdun, one of the most exquisite examples of medieval enamel work. The altar, made in 1181, depicts a variety of biblical scenes on its 51 panels. Other highlights include a seventeenth century organ, a twelfth century Romanesque candelabra and fourteenth century stained-glass windows.
Throughout its history, the monastery has been involved in winemaking. Today visitors can tour Austria’s oldest wine-growing estate, visiting the baroque cellar complex and witnessing the production using traditional and modern methods.
One of a string of Imperial palaces and mansions built across Vienna in the 17th and 18th centuries, Palais Auersperg is Vienna’s oldest Baroque palace, built between 1706 and 1710. Its white, lacy façade bears the unmistakable stamp of Baroque master architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and his sidekick Lukas von Hildebrandt, and it was designed to be a center of European culture, music and politics. Stalwarts of the Vienna musical scene such as Mozart, Haydn and Gluck all wrote music here and the palace played host to lavish balls and weddings frequented by European royalty. When Austria was under German occupation during World War II, Vienna resistance members met in Auersperg to lay the foundations of post-war Austria; the palace was later seized and became the HQ of the German police.
Close to the Baroque masterpiece Schönbrunn Palace and the Rathuis (City Hall), Palais Auersperg is today one of the most luxurious concert venues in Vienna, dripping in chandeliers, gilded ornamentation and marble statuary. A full repertoire of Mozart and Strauss concerts are played year around; especially popular are the white-tie New Year’s Eve extravaganzas, when Vienna’s haute monde dresses up to enjoy a genteel night of dancing to waltzes and polkas.
- Things to do in Schwechat
- Things to do in Bratislava
- Things to do in Graz
- Things to do in Linz
- Things to do in Cesky Krumlov
- Things to do in Budapest
- Things to do in Hallstatt
- Things to do in Passau
- Things to do in Salzburg
- Things to do in Prague
- Things to do in Zagreb
- Things to do in Ljubljana
- Things to do in Lower Austria
- Things to do in Upper Austria
- Things to do in Bohemia