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  • Vienna, The City of Music

    Me watching St Stephan's Cathedral at Stephansplatz,Vienna

    Me watching St Stephen’s Cathedral at Stephansplatz,Vienna

    There is something unique in Vienna, It has a charm that few cities have. I personally found the city very delightful and dynamic. It is a destination that you definitely should not avoid. Vienna itself is very beautiful filled with rich history and architecture. In fact all other very beautiful cities from Central Europe like Krakow, Budapest and Prague are one of a kind but Vienna has a glorious past.

    A Bastion Against the Turks

    Let me start with the background of the city. This amazing place was first mentioned in 1156, when a leader of the “March of Austria” called Henry II established here the capital, being a state of the Holy Roman Empire. After the Babenberg dynasty vanished in 1246, the Habsburgs were next, spread its value all around and made the city and the whole nation a bastion of Christianity against the Turks.

    The monarchy ruled the empire for centuries until the abdication of the last emperor in 1918, thus proclaiming the country a republic.

    Among many emperors of Austria, Maximilian I, Maria Theresa and Franz Joseph are the most credited and famous. (no comma needed before ‘and’) Maximilian I was never crowned by the pope himself, thus making his journeys to Rome too risky. He used his marriages for political purposes, expanding his influence of the Habsburg dynasty through war and his marriage in 1477 to Mary of Burgundy. Maria Theresa protected her empire against half of Europe during her reign. The last but not least, Franz Joseph, who ruled for almost 70 years, put his stamp on Vienna, making the city extremely wealthy and powerful.

    The old “grey emperor”, always wearing a uniform still continues to rule the city even nowadays, his name appearing on bags and t-shirts and his silhouette is being reproduced on chocolates. This is the imperial Vienna that astonishes people.

    Me at Heldenplatz and behind me the Hofburn palace

    Me at Heldenplatz and behind me the Hofburn palace

    Austria’s rich background, especially from the Habsburg era left a rich legacy to Vienna. Many stunning buildings were erected from that time like the Hofburg Palace. It is listed as World Heritage site by UNESCO. The palace has 2.600 rooms, it is immense and very long. Heldenplatz is the exceptional square of Hofburg palace with wonderful views, that is one of my personal favorite places in Vienna. The Imperial Crypt, the Austrian National Library, and the Imperial Treasury of Vienna are also “must see” places which are near the Hofburg.

    The Belvedere Palace and Schonnbrunn also remind us of Vienna’s glorious past. The thing that I always enjoy in Vienna is a walk on Ringstrasse, where you can see many notable buildings like the Vienna State Opera, The Parliament of Austria, the city’s town Hall and many other  buildings can be found there.

    A place that I undoubtedly enjoy and  everybody does is the dynamic Stephansplatz with the opulent and gigantic St Stephen’s Cathedral.  The Cathedral had its groundbreaking in 1137 and although the first structure was finished in 1160, the major reconstruction and expansion of the church lasted until 1511, and even nowadays there are restorations and repair projects.  It has both Romanesque and Gothic style. It is probably Vienna’s trademark symbol.

    The square is filled with appealing cafes, bars and restaurants. For shopaholics it is an ideal place to spend their money in one of its numerous expensive luxury boutiques.  One of Vienna’s most famous pastry shops is Demel, which lies near Stephansplatz.  Demel is a typical example of a classic and traditional Viennese chocolaterie, and has many famous chocolates and deserts that are part of Austrian cuisine.


    The cafes of Vienna are surely idyllic, although expensive, they are still part of the Viennese legacy. My first encounter with such cafes was special. They not only serve exceptional coffees, desserts and hot chocolates, but they are also very beautifully decorated.

    Personally I enjoyed more the architecture and the feeling of the cafes. Many artists and architects created the Jugendstil style of architecture, and personalities like Arthur Schitzler and Thomas Bernhard left a legacy for theaters and cafes.

    Since I’m a huge fan and I respect beautiful classic and quality music, I really do enjoy the fact that the city is called “The City of Music”. No wonder, since so many amazing musicians like Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Brahms, and Kalman composed here and they left  their influence and heritage at the Opera or the Musikverein (Philarmonica).

    For those who love to party or having fun, Prater and the Naschmarket are the two keywords. Naschmarket is filled with popular bars and restaurants like Beisl and Heuringer.

    St Stephen's Cathedral interior @Costel Slincu

    St Stephen’s Cathedral interior @Costel Slincu/flickr

    Vienna is easily accesible by car or plane. Most international airports are linked with Vienna. Bratislava is very close to the city, about 70-80 km and Budapest is 2 hour drive from the Austrian capital.

    You should be careful with the budget, since the city is quite expensive. Despite that, the city is a worth travel destination, and you can enjoy your time and save money if you resourcefully and carefully calculate your spending during your time in Vienna.

    For those who love to travel, Viena is the perfect destination. Book cheap flights, travel to Austria and enjoy your holiday.

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