Though number ten in city population in the entire European Union, Vienna probably ranks much higher when it comes to tourist appeal, quality of civic life and historic attractions. The magnificent, ?ber-photogenic capital of Austria is beyond hyperbole, though we will unload a flurry of adjectives to sum up the city.
Home to Baroque and Art Nouveau palaces, modern masterpieces that house international organizations and innovative composites of old and new, Vienna is gorgeous to look at, point blank. If green space and recreation is up your alley, you can hardly improve upon what a city of Vienna’s size provides residents and visitors alike. No wonder then, that the term “livable” is so often associated with the city.
If you do go to Vienna, be sure to include these ten must-see attractions.
10. The Belvedere
A plush Baroque design built throughout the early 18th century for Prince Eugene of Savoy, the Belvedere contains all the fine ornamental details you would expect from a palace so grand. Dramatic halls, works of art, gardens and even a museum are just some of the sights in store for visitors.
Open since 1365, the University of Vienna is to say the least, quite historic. With over 72,000 students, business is still good at the academic institution. The university’s botanical garden, while not as old, is one of the best in Europe.
The Museumsquartier of Vienna is superbly laid out for lovers of culture. Among the gems in store is the Leopold Museum, with a fabulous collection of Austrian art from the first half of the 20th century that features such native masters as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka.
Over 600,000 people pass through the Kunsthistorisches Museum every year. The fine arts and decorative arts museum is world class, with iconic works by Raphael, Vermeer, Brueghel, Rubens and Vel?zquez, among others.
The MUMOK, or “Museum MOderner Kunst”, is a recent incarnation in a long-line of hyper-modern museums to hit towns all over Europe. The difference though is that this brilliant facility actually has brilliant art to look at on the inside. Over 7,000 works in the permanent collection to be semi-precise, from Warhol to Picasso, Jasper Johns to Lichtenstein.
Vienna’s cityscape is replete with eccelsiastical masterpieces but St. Stephen’s Cathedral may be the one real must-see of the bunch. The Gothic Romanesque cathedral sits on the traces of a church built in the early 12th century and in addition to peerless physical beauty, has been at the heart of some of the most important events in Austria’s history. As such, St. Stephen’s is one of the few landmarks in Vienna that one can characterize as a genuine symbol of the city and indeed, the nation.
4. The Rathaus
The Rathaus is in effect, the city hall of Vienna. The Neo-Gothic wonder is no ordinary city hall however, not by most standards anyway. From the iconic tower to the Rathauspark, not to mention splendid interior, the landmark is terrific.
The indelible home of the Hapsburg dynasty, the Hofburg was for a time, the most formidable seat of power in the world. The Imperial Palace certainly bears all the trademarks of such a lofty title, with interior residences, museums, a grand library, chapels and a national theatre all available to see on tour. Most famously, the palace was the birthplace of Marie Antoinette.
Yet another remarkable palace in Vienna, the Sch?nbrunn is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and peerless cultural symbol of Austria. The international body’s justification to include the complex as a heritage site rests on the Sch?nbrunn’s value as a peerless Gesamtkunstwerk, or “total work of art”. Indeed, as a “well preserved example of the Baroque princely residential ensemble”, as UNESCO puts it, you can’t get any better. The landmarks on site are ceaseless, from the world’s oldest zoo, the Tiergarten, to the vast sculpture garden.
Opera and Vienna go hand in hand and as a result, a trip to the city opera house is a must. The facility dates back to the mid-19th century and the opera company’s season is perenially sold out. All in all, performances embody the epitome of the genre and as such, a visit to Vienna would be totally incomplete without a night at the opera.
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