Postcard of the Week: Vienna
This week’s postcard from Vienna comes courtesy of my lovely former housemate and fellow italophile Jess. We first met while au pairing near Rome in between the first and second year of university, and during our Third Year Abroad we both lived in Emilia-Romagna within a half-hour train journey from each other, I in Modena and Jess in Bologna. She now lives in London but like me she manages to fit in lots of weekends away in Europe, the most recent of which was to Vienna! She sent me this postcard of the impressive Schönbrunn Palace, built in 1696, which is a former imperial 1,441-room Rococo summer residence.
The palace and its gardens are said to illustrate the tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. As well as exploring the interior of the palace, in the palace grounds you’ll find the world’s oldest zoo, a palm house and a maze, and apparently you can also occasionally catch a Mozart concert there. Tales of the rise and fall of the various European empires enchant me and Austria is no exception, Vienna owes its grand architecture and past prosperity to its status as the capital of the Austrian Empire (later Austro-Hungarian Empire) ruled by the Habsburgs, which existed from 1804-1918.
I’ve never been to Vienna myself but after hearing about it I’m keen to visit. I hear it’s very elegant, classic and historical.
It’s over ten years since I visited Vienna as part of a tour that also included Prague and Budapest. The contrast / comparison between Vienna and Budapest (then recently free of communist rule), was intriguing. As well as the Schönbrunn Palace our tour also incorporated the gardens of Prince Eugene’s Belvedere Palace, the State Opera (a different performance and stage set every day), the Hofburg residence of Emperor Franz Joseph, and the Parliament buildings. All worth visiting, as were Prater Park (think of the film the Third Man!), the Winter Riding School and the quirky Stephandsom Cathedral. (I may be able to unearth more recollections from the depths of my memory – I’ll see!)
I understand that there have been lots of interesting new developments in Vienna in recent years – modern museums, architecture and cool cafes!
On another travel topic, we are visiting Padua next week and will use your recent postcard as a guide. We love Italy too, so I’m sure that we will have an enjoyable experience.
I’ll make sure I visit all the places you mention when I do finally make it to Vienna, thanks! Your description has really bumped Vienna up my list of places to visit.
I’ve been to Vienna twice and wound return in a heart beat! Schonbrunn Palace was a wonderful place to visit (spent the entire day): very well preserved, so much to explore and just fascinating to experience the history around it.
I’d recommend a walking tour or tram ride around the Ringstrasse. As it travels around the city core, you can get off to explore the area, and then jump back on and continue to another cool spot, including the Vienna Opera House, Museum Quarter and Parliament. If you like architecture themed tours, you’ll enjoy this.
Make sure to stop and enjoy the many delicious desserts along the way 🙂
Thanks for your tips Tony! I love architecture tours, architecture is something I barely remember to soak up but which is so interesting when you do actually stop and notice it.