We spent our second day in Vienna visiting monumental buildings and walking in the city. We began going to the furthest point: Schömbrunn Palace. Then we came back to the historic centre, where we saw St. Stephen’s Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church and the Plague Column, among other places.
Schönbrunn Palace, the old summer residence for the emperor’s family, is one of the most impressive baroque buildings all over Europe. The wife of Emperor Ferdinand II ordered in 1642 the building of a summer residence, which was named as “Schönbrunn”. The palace and the gardens built after the Turkish siege were totally reformed at the request of Mary Theresa after 1743.
It was included in the World Heritage list in 1996 and it’s especially recommendable to visit its magnificent gardens.
During the guided visit inside the building you can see the palatial rooms just as they were at the age of Empress Sisi, with all the furniture, the dishes, the curtains and the costumes. As a curious fact, you can see Sisi’s private toilet. She was in fact one of the first in her age to have such a luxury.
I have to admit that the visit inside the Palace, besides expensive, becomes stressing. The groups of people overlap, which turns out on people pushing with rush. There is also so many people that it’s hard to see what the guides are pointing and explaining.
The large gardens of the palace (the admission is free) are a true invitation to walk just like in the times of the Emperor. It also has a labyrinth and a zoo (the oldest in the world). They extend around the palace and rise by a steep hill in which top a little palace is located. It holds a café-restaurant where you can have some coffee as you enjoy the sights over the city.
We liked it much more the gardens than inside the palace: they were huge and well conserved, and they have a great view over the city and the palace itself. Despite there were many people too, it’s possible to find quiet places or, at least, to have enough space to be your own way. We didn’t walk them completely although we spent an entire morning making this visit.
There is a Christmas market at the magnificent square before the palace. It’s open from 19th November to 1st January, although the opening hours vary depending on the day. Here we can find ornaments, souvenirs, sweets and hot beverages.
Admission to the Palace: you can make several guided visits with different rooms in each one. The prices go from 10 € to 15 € per adult.
Admission to the gardens: free
– From November to March; from 8.30 a. m. to 5 p. m.
– From April to June: from 8.30 a. m. to 5.30 p. m.
– From July to August: from 8.30 a. m. to 6.30 p. m.
– From September to October: from 8.30 a. m. to 5.30 p. m.
Address: Gardetrakt, 1130 Vienna
Metro: Schönbrunn U4
Tram: Hietzing 60, Schloss Schönbrunn 10, 58
Bus: Schloss Schönbrunn 10 A
GPS Coordinates: 48.186066, 16.312894
More information: Schönbrunn Palace
St. Stephan’s Cathedral, Stephansdom
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) is certainly one of Vienna’s most interesting places and a national symbol in Austria. It’s located in the middle of the historical centre of the city and it was devoted to St. Stephen in 1137.
The cathedral is crowned by a high tower shaped like a needle (Steffl), which is built in gothic style and can be seen from different points of the city (it’s 137 m. high). You can go up to the top climbing a spiral staircase inside the tower. From the viewpoint you get some really beautiful sights of the city centre.
At the back of the cathedral we can find the Tile Roof, covered by more than 250.000 glazed tiles, which were restored after World War II. On the right side of the building there is the so-called Singer Gate, which in ancient times couldn’t be used by women.
Once inside the cathedral you can observe different architectonical styles, corresponding to several ages; the central nave, the lateral chapels and the choir date from a rebuilding in neogothic style, and some of the lateral buildings were rebuilt in baroque style.
On the inside the cathedral holds the mortal remains of a great part of the Habsburg family, and it was the place where the wedding and the funeral of Mozart took place.
The sculpture of the crucified Christ, located in the Tirna chapel by Prince Eugene of Savoy’s tomb, is one of the many curiosities of this temple. This image of Christ has, according to the legend, a natural hair beard which is still growing.
Under the ground of the cathedral you can also visit the famous catacombs of Vienna.
The Habsburgs were veiled after dying in the little imperial chapel (Burgkapelle) of the Swiss courtyard, where the Boys’ Choir of Vienna still today sing. Then the dead were taken to St. Stephen’s Cathedral for the funeral ceremony. There were left, in big urns, their remains and guts (what remained after emptying the body for the embalming), but the heart, which was kept by the Augustinians.
Besides these mortal remains in closed urns, the catacombs hide vaults for the dead by plague and the bodies of archbishops, in a curious labyrinth. The guided walk ends outside the temple, were Mozart was buried in semi-secrecy.
In addition to that, the colourful artificial lighting, both outdoors and indoors, creates a mysterious ambient and some interesting light effects which are really worthy to observe.
– Cathedral: free.
– Access to the central area with an audio guide: 4,50 € per adult.
– Catacombs: guided visits each 30 minutes until 4.30 p. m. 4,50 € per adult.
– South Tower: 3,50 € per adult.
– Pummerin Bell (North Tower): 4,50 € per adult.
– All included with an audio guide: 14,50 € per adult.
– From Monday to Saturday: from 6 a. m. to 10 p. m.
– Sundays and Holidays: from 7 a. m. to 10 p. m.
Address: Stephansplatz, 3.
Metro: Stephansplatz, U1 and U3 lines.
Bus: Stephansplatz, lines 1A, 2A and 3A.
GPS coordinates: 48.208661, 16.372305
More information: Stephansdom
The postmodern curvaceous building of Haas Haus (Hass House, in English) is in front St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It was in built in 1985 and has been controversial since then because it’s a true modern construction in the middle of the medieval centre of the capital. However Hollein (the architect) defends his work saying that he built Haas Haus over the medieval houses, but they in turn were built over the roman constructions.
Haas Haus seems like a cylinder and the façade is divided in two parts: the first is made of light stone and makes a coffer structure; the second is all made of crystal and reflects St. Stephen’s Cathedral, so it makes a mix between modernity and history. The eclectic inner design of Haas Haus reflects a full of irony and imagination architecture where, as a curiosity, we can found a staircase who takes to nowhere.
This building holds a café-restaurant on the last flat, a hotel and a shopping centre on the lower flat. From the upper flat we can admire through the convex windows of the café a wonderful sight over the square and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Peterskirche – St. Peter’s Church
The current building of St. Peter’s Church dates from XVIII century, but it’s known that there was a church at the same place from 1200 years. It’s said that Charlemagne himself founded in 792, and if that’s true this would be the oldest church in Vienna, but there’s nothing left from that first temple.
The modern St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche) was built in 1703 in baroque style and inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The dome and two towers which are inclined to it are the most remarkable elements outdoors. Indoors we can admire the majestic dome and the golden and ochre stucco coating, besides the interesting frescos and altarpieces and the central elliptic ground floor.
We were lucky to enjoy that afternoon a sacred music concert with free admission. So we visited the temple twice: first we saw the building and later we listened to the concert for a while.
If you want to see the cathedral on the inside you can click the next link, which takes you to a panoramic photo of the dome with some explanations about the many details of the church: Peterkirsche panoramic photograph.
– From Monday to Friday: from 7 a. m. to 8 p. m.
– Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays: from 9 a. m. to 9 p. m.
Address: Petersplatz 1010.
Metro: Stephansplatz, U1 and U3 lines.
Bus: Petersplatz, 1A, 2A and 3A lines.
GPS coordinates: 48.209314, 16.369633
More information: St. Peter’s Church
The Column Plague (Pestsäule) is also located at the very heart of Vienna, only a few steps away from St. Stephan’s Cathedral, at Graben Street. It was erected under the rule of Leopold I, as a thanksgiving symbol for the end of the plague in 1679, after more than 100.000 victims.
It was inaugurated in 1693 and built in baroque style. It’s made of a plinth decorated with reliefs, and a pyramid of clouds, statues and angels rises over it. The monument culminates with a golden bronze group sculpture which represents the Holy Trinity.
Address: Graben Street (in the middle of the walkway)
GPS coordinates: 48.208621, 16.369791
More information: Plague Column
After dark we were walking a bit more until we arrived to a pub which I wanted to know for years, due its relationship with the name of this blog: the Philosoph.
It’s a pub-brewery in the middle of the pub area in Vienna, and it mixes the normal activity of a brewery (even the happy hour) with some other cultural contests and quizzes (like Trivial Pursuit competitions).
We spent a while drinking a beer and speaking with the owner about the coincidence of the names of his pub and my blog.
Address: Judengasse 11
GPS coordinates: 48.211872, 16.37399
Philosoph Website: Philosoph
After strolling a while we went back to the hotel to restore our energies, so we could keep knowing Vienna’s essentials the next day.