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Vienna Travel Guide - Museums and Monuments
Vienna is the crown jewel of the Hapsburg Empire and was built to rule half of Europe, with sprawling palaces, magnificent gardens, heroic statues, and ornate fountains. Today's Vienna, a huge city, with no Empire to rule, is steeped more in nostalgia than in glory. Half the people in Vienna are over 60, and most of the rest, it seems, are tourists. It is a major art and music capital of the world.

Transportation: Subway and trams... very efficient. The subway is called Stadtbahn. Tobacco shops sell booklets of discount tickets for all public transportation. Buy a book of 5 tickets and save. There is also Vienna Card for 72 hrs, available at the Railway Station, the airport, and key Metros. It offers reductions at 210 museums. Trains from the west (Salzburg) and to Budapest arrive/depart WestBahnhof. Trains to Prague depart Suedbahnhof.

The Hofburg: Mon-Sat 8:30-12,12:30-4:30. Sun 8:30-12. Tram 1,2,D,J. This was the official residence of the Hapsburgs and was built between the 13th and 20th centuries in every conceivable architectural style. It's an enormous complex of buildings bounded by vast parks. The Swiss Court is the oldest part of the palace. The Gothic Royal Chapel is where the Vienna Boys' Choir sings. St. Augustine's Church has the Loreto Chapel with its famous "heart crypt" of 54 urns with the hearts of the Hapsburgs in them. The Schatzkammer contains imperial and religious treasures. The Imperial Rooms are the rooms of Franz Joseph and Czar Alexander I of Russia. The Neue Hofburg houses the world's second largest collection of armor. The Spanish Riding School is where the famous Lippizaner horses perform. No performances in July and August, but you can visit the school and the stables.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum: This Museum of Fine Arts is located at I Maria Theresien Platz, across from the Hofburg. Tram 1,2,,52,58,D,J. to Burgring. Tue-Sun 10-6. Tue-Fri 10-9. Closed Monday. The major collection is on the second floor... and is fabulous at many points ... Vermeer's Artist In His Studio, rooms filled with Rubens, Rembrandt, Breughel, and excellent Holbeins, Durers, Van Eycks, Titian, and Caravaggio. On the first floor is a collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, along with the world's largest collection of tapestries. The main attraction on this floor is Cellini's Salt Cellar, made for Francis I.

The Ring: The oval central area of "Old Vienna". It's now a pedestrian zone and is the ideal place for booking a hotel -although more expensive.

The Graben: The major shopping street with Baroque fountains and fancy shops.

St. Stephens: Daily 8-5. This Cathedral is the focal point of Vienna and has the highest steeple. It was founded in the 12th century and is Gothic in style, with some Romanesque elements. Visit the crypt for the ornate tombs. About 10 years ago some demented architect built an extremely modern building across from St. Stephens. This modern building is completely covered in a mosaic of mirrors and is totally out of place in "Old Vienna".

Mozarthaus: Domgasse 5, 10-8 PM. Stephansplatz. Mozart stayed from 1784 to 1787 in an apartment with four rooms, two small rooms, and a kitchen - almost lordly. This is the only one of about a dozen of Mozart's Viennese apartments that has been preserved until today. He wrote "The Impesario" and "The Marriage of Figaro" while living in this house.

Schonbrunn: Take U4 to Schonbrunn stop or trams 10 or 58, bus 10 or 19..... 15 minutes. The grounds are open from 8-8, and are glorious...classical stone arches on the highest point ... excellent views ... the Neptune Fountain ... artificial Roman Ruins ... and the largest hothouse in Europe. This is the summer palace of the Hapsburgs, who are prohibited, by law, from entering Austria today. The palace was begun in 1695 by Emperor Leopold I, but the greatest impact was left by Empress Maria Therese, who managed to have 16 children, run the country, fight a war, and still find time to decorate and re-design this palace ... finishing it in 1749. It is virtually intact, as she left it. Outstanding rooms ... Chinese, Napoleon, Porcelain, Guest, and the famous Millions Room, which is a highly ornate Rococo design. Take the Imperial Tour (22 rooms). It's really enough and it includes a self-guide audio in English.

Opera House: This is one of the world's most splendid Opera Houses. The season lasts from September thru the end of June. The city of Zagreb in Croatia, loved this structure so much that they made an exact copy in their city.

The Prater: The famous amusement park of Vienna which is best known for its huge ferris wheel ... the largest in the world. No admission to the grounds. There are cheap beer gardens and restaurants throughout the park. Take bus AK or BK from the "Ring".

Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery): Take U3 to Simmering (30 min). Located at 234 Simmeringer Hauptstrasse. Within feet of each other are the graves of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Strausse... along with the most ornate headstones you'll ever see. Very interesting.

Belvedere Palace: Prinz Eugen Strasse 27. Tue-Sun 10-5. Tram D. This is a light, airy, Baroque Palace built between 1714 and 1723 as a summer residence for Austria's beloved Prince Eugen. Upper Belvedere Palace is the more formal and lavish...and was used for state occasions and for guests. It's now a gallery for 19-20th century art. Beautiful views of Vienna from the top floor. Lower Belevedere Palace is across the beautiful sculpture garden and is where the Prince lived. It is now the Museum Of Austrian Baroque.

Crypts of the Hapsburgs: Located in Kapuziner Church near the Albertina and behind the Opera House ... 2 Tegetthoffstrasse. Daily 9:30-4:00. Kaisergruft or Royal Crypts in this church date back 300 years.

Composers' monuments and rooms: Monuments are located everywhere, but the loveliest are in the Stadtpark. The memorial rooms are not recommended unless you are really into music, because they are plain and simple. Beethoven ... 8 Moelkerbastei, home of the composer. Schubert ... 54 Nussdorferstrass, birthplace of the composer. Mozart ... 5 Domgasse, relics of the composer.

Liechtenstein Museum: Furstengasse1. 9-8 Clo Tue. Streetcar D, Bus 40. Bauemfeldplatz. With the reopening of the Liechtenstein Museum in 2004, some of the art treasures in the Princely Collections of Liechtenstein returned home to Vienna. They contain an extensive collection of Rubens, prominent works by van Dyck, Cranach, Raphael, Rembrandt.

Albertina Museum: Located at I Augustinerstrasse. The world's largest collection of prints. Many are on display ... while others are represented by reproductions. If you want to see a particular print, they will bring it to you.

Academy Of Fine Art: 3 SchillerPlatz, near the Opera. The Academy has a gallery of Old Masters (works by Dutch and Flemish painters of the 17th century, above all Rubens and van Dyck). Other remarkable pieces include the altarpiece of the Last Judgment by Bosch, Murillo's "Two Boys Playing Dice" and views of Venice by Francesco Guardi.

Jarhunderts Museum: Modern art. Located in the Schweizergarten.

Sigmund Freud Museum: 19 Berggasse. 9-4 PM. Ring the bell, push door. This is the former home of the father of psychiatry. Tram D to Schlickgrasse.

Watch Museum: 2 Schulhof. Charming and interesting ... if you have "the time".

Austrian Museum Of Military History: Take the tram to Sudbahnhof and then a short walk. Contains the automobile in which Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated ... bringing on WWI ... and his bloodstained uniform, plus countless mementos of Austrian generals.

Kahlenberg Hill: For a complete and panoramic view of Vienna and the Danube. Take the underground line U4 to Heiligenstadt. From there take the bus 38A.

Excursion by traln to Melk: Free with Eurail. Visit the famous monastery. Return by boat (also free with Eurail) on the Danube at 4 PM. Arrives back in Vienna at 8 PM. The scenery along the Danube is great.

Tours to Vienna forest Mayerling ... are available...brochures at your hotel.

Museum Moderner Kunst: Liechtenstein Palace, Furstengasse 1. International modern works by Warhol, Klee, Kandinsky. Wed-Mon 10-6. Tram D to Furstengsse.

Beethoven House ... Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. Tram 1,2 or D to Schottentor.

Hayden House...Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. Tram 52,58. Haydngasse 19.

Mozart House ... Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. U3 to Stephansplatz. Domgasse 5.

Schubert House ... Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4-30. S to Nussdorfer Strasse, 54.

Strauss House ... Tue-Sun 9-12:15,1-4:30. U to Nestroyplatz. Praterstrasse 54.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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