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Trip to Vienna

Hi,

I am going on a business trip to Vienna, and would like to make the most of it.
So far, I am planning to visit Schonbrunn Palace, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Belvedere Palace Museum etc. and a few other similar historical places. Could you also suggest some good scenic places nearby Vienna? Also, where would I get the best view of Danube in the city?

Posted by
317 posts

What are your historical interests? I found a few unexpected treasures on my trip there last week:

  • Virgilkapelle (chapel/crypt from about 1200 and lost for centuries) located in the Stephansplatz Ubahn station.
  • Neidhart Frescoes, on Tuchlauben. Amazing frescoes from a banquet room, painted in about 1399 and rediscovered in 1979. Very rare, secular art.
  • The Romermuseum, showing the city's history as a Roman settlement in ~100-500 ACE.
  • The open-air museum of uncovered foundations in Michaelerplatz. Working on the Ubahn, they uncovered an area with overlapping foundation walls from three separate eras. They're on display now.

All of these sites, taken together, will give you an appreciation of Vienna's long history--it was a Celtic settlement before the Romans even got there. It seems like every time they go to renovate a building or dig a foundation, they find evidence of the past. All those pretty, fluffy, Rococo and Baroque and Biedermeier and Jugendstil buildings are on medieval foundations, if not even older ones.

Personally I am meh on palaces and royalty. They make me angry. I'm a lot more interested in the everyday lives of regular people. You'll see the biases of the Hapsburgs in the Kunsthistoriches Museum (which I still wholeheartedly recommend.) Take an extra hour and visit the stone age area of the Naturhistoriches Museum opposite the Kunsthistorichesmuseum for a rare peek into the lives of humans in Europe tens of thousands of years ago. It's rare to see artifacts like these in America; you really have to go to Europe to see them.

The Belvedere has a great exhibit on Klimt and Schiele, which gave me a new appreciation for them. But there's a piece sort of missing: right now, most of Richard Gerstl's work is in New York at the Neue Galerie. If you can, stop in and see that museum on your way to Vienna. The Belvedere also has an exhibit right now on Klimt's classical inspirations, but if you go see that, be sure to go to the Secession either right before or right after, because the Eroica frescoes are a pivotal part of that exhibit (so much so that they've created a partial replica at the Belvedere.)

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Posted by
13000 posts

Good choice.....Kahlenberg, where the decisive battle (thanks to the Poles) took place that ended the Turkish siege of Vienna and their second attempt to capture the city.

Posted by
671 posts

Pretty nice view of the city and the Danube from the top of the Riesenrad (ferris wheel in the Prater), but certainly the view from the Kahlenberg is best.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks a lot for your replies, friends!

Astorienne, thanks for your detailed insights. Among historical places, I love anything that gives me an ancient vibe and helps me travel back in time. Ancient ruins, old castles & forts are my favorites. I like Museums too, but might get overdosed with them at times. :)

Thanks for all the suggestion on viewpoints, everyone! Definitely interested in Klosterneuberg Abbey, if that gives me a good view of the serene Danube!

Posted by
317 posts

The thing you're missing is that, in Vienna, the ruins lie within the city. Don't let the pretty wedding-cake buildings of today's Vienna fool you. The Neidhart Frescoes show how all today's buildings sit on Medieval or older foundations and carry the traces in their walls. The Romermuseum will let you literally peek beneath the existing city and see the layers of history underneath by examining the ruined foundations of two Roman-era houses, one story below ground level. Likewise, at Michaelerplatz you look down to see three layers of old foundations from ~500 ACE, the Medival era, and the 18th or 19th c, all just beneath existing street level. And the Virgilkapelle hints at the many other lost spaces, still existing below the surface.

This is something I did not expect to see in pretty, polished Vienna either... but it's there. Ancient bones.

Posted by
279 posts

Unlike many I am not much of an art museum kind of guy. I am more a military history and natural history. type. Vienna has a very good military history museum with an excellent exhibit about WW 1. It includes the car the Arch Duke was riding in when he was killed. It was kind of cool that my wife and I visited the museum in September of 2014, 100 hundred years after the start of the war.

The natural history is also very good. But one of its high points is its very nice restaurant on an upper floor. Far superior to the snack bars at typical American museums.

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13000 posts

"...more of a military history ...type." There are more Austrain war/military history sights in Vienna than only the Military/Army History Museum...the Memorial am .Deutschmeisterplatz, Soldiers' Memorial on WW1 and 2 to the side of the Hofburg Nationalbibliothek, Schwarzenberg Platz, the Soviet War Memorial, Flaktürme, Zentralfriedhof for WW1 and 2 cemeteries, statues of Prinz Eugen and the Archduke Charles, Maria Theresien Platz, the Landwehr/ Soldiers Memorial to 1809 across from Westbahnhof, and , of course, Kahlenberg where the decisive battle took place, which freed the city from a siege.

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15053 posts

I liked the collections at the Albertina best (Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism) . . . and right in the center of town. I wanted to do a day trip to Melk, but hit a heat wave and had to skip it. At the Schonbrunn, allow enough time for the gardens.