We spent our fourth day in Vienna visiting the Belvedere complex, which is formed by two palaces: Higher Belvedere (located at a hill) and Lower Belvedere, divided by large gardens. We also walked a little by the Stardpark Park and the famous Prater, before getting ready for the End of the Year.
The Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere) is actually a pair of palaces built as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. The complex is divided by a huge garden in French style.
Higher Belvedere is at the highest point in the garden. It’s the main building of the complex and it has a much more sophisticated façade. It was built after Lower Belvedere building, between 1717 and 1723, as the party pavilion for Prince Eugene of Savoy.
It’s worthy to arrive to the elaborated wrought iron gate in the furthest end of the garden, and contemplate the sight of the palace over the pool.
Lower Belvedere is much smaller and has a less eye-catching façade than Higher Belvedere. The building was built between 1712 and 1716 as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. The most remarkable things are the sumptuous old private rooms and reception halls, like the Golden Room, the prince’s bedroom, the Grotesque Hall and the Marble Hall.
Advice: we were told that Higher Belvedere is a very diaphanous palace on the inside and it only has some rooms with furniture. If you don’t have much time it’s better to visit other palaces, although it’s recommendable to see this one on the outside and walking in its gardens.
Admission: 16€. (Higher and Lower Belvedere)
– Higher Belvedere: every day from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.
– Lower Belvedere: every day from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Wednesday until 9 p. m.).
Address: Prinz-Eugen-Straße 27
Tram: Schloss Belvedere, line D; Unteres Belvedere, line 71.
GPS coordinates: 48.19199, 16.380871
More information: Belvedere Palace
Soviet War Memorial
We entered by the Access to Higher Belvedere, went down through the gardens to Lower Belvedere and finally left the complex. We headed to the city centre again, where we found the Soviet War Memorial.
This monument is located at Schwarzenberg Square (Schwarzenbergplatz), right behind a fountain which commemorates Vienna’s first aqueduct (Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain). The monument shows a Russian soldier holding a flag and encouraging his comrades to get into action. There is a temple with a portico behind.
This complex was erected by the Soviets at the end of World War II in 1945, after entering Vienna and freeing the city from the Germans.
GPS coordinates: 48.198674, 16.375993
The Wiener Stadtpark, or city park, is one of Vienna’s oldest and most visited public parks. It was designed in the style of the English gardens and it was inaugurated in 1862. It has 65.000 m2 and occupies an extension between Parkring and Heumarkt. The Wien River crosses it all along.
Stadtpark has more monuments and sculptures than any other park in Vienna. The most famous monument is dedicated to Johann Strauss Jr. and it’s made of a half-round marble high-relief which holds a golden bronze statue.
The Wienflussregulierung building, in modernist style, is another interesting point in the park. It’s composed of monumental stairs, pavilions and columns, which disguise the exit to Wien River surface. It’s located at the South side of the park, by Johannesgasse. You can find at this street an entrance to Stadtpark metro station, which still has the original modernist style.
The Kursalon building is important, too. It was inaugurated in 1867 as a place for hydrotherapy treatments, but it’s been used since 1868 as a concert and dance hall.
Address: Landstraße 1030.
Metro: Stadtpark, line U4
Tram: Weihburggasse, line 2
Bus: Stubentor, line 1A
GPS coordinates: 48.205056, 16.380566
More information: Stadtpark
The Prater Park is a huge and famous public park with 6 millions of square meters, which extends between Danube Channel and the river itself. It’s located 3 km. away from North East to Vienna centre.
The park is crossed by Hauptallée Avenue, which is 5 km. long, and it was an imperial hunting ground until Emperor Joseph II donated this large extension to the people of Vienna in 1766, as a leisure place.
It has the oldest amusement park, which holds about 250 attractions, including the giant Ferris wheel and the wheel of fortune (Riesenrad), built in 1896. The 65 m. high Riesenrad, immortalized in 1949 in The third man film, has truly become a Viennese symbol.
It also has a football field, the Pratermuseum (a museum about the history of the park), many cafes, restaurants, buffets and ice cream stands, and way marked paths and water areas, as well. There are enterprises for renting sport and leisure equipment too, which let you do skating, ball playing, jogging, bike riding and walking in the park.
Opening hours: from 15th March to 31st October, everyday from 10 a. m. to 12 a. m. (the shops, restaurants and some attractions remain open all the year).
Address: Ausstellungsstraße 1
Metro: Praterstern, lines U1 and U2.
Tram: Praterstern, lines 5 and O.
Bus: Praterstern, line 80A.
GPS coordinates: 48.217029,16.399309
More information: Prater Park
New Year’s Eve
Celebrating the New Year’s Eve in the street is a tradition for the Viennese people. They gather according to their ages and have party mostly in the streets of the historic centre of the city, which are full of mobile food and drink stands.
The offer is really diverse. There is a festival at every emblematic place in the city, from Rathaus to Danube Channel and Stephansplatz. It’s surprising how much people can be found at the street and how respectful is the vast majority. Although there was a huge crowd out there we didn’t see any dispute, and everything was very well arranged (except maybe for the lack of waste bins).
We were told that on the last day of the year most of the restaurants are closed at night (unless there is some special New Year’s Eve dinner), but in the city centre you can always find somewhere to eat. There are enough food and drink stands to have dinner that night.
We celebrated the coming of the New Year in front of Hofburg Imperial Palace together with at least 100.000 more people (just to estimate an amount, because it was all overcrowded), and we spent a while in the square in front of the city hall (Rathaus).
If you want more information about what can you do in New Year’s Eve you can check the calendar of activities in Vienna.