“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.”
This past weekend my friend, Gloria, and I hopped on the train and headed to Vienna. The grandeur of the architecture and history was astounding, and we had a wonderful weekend away. We walked nearly 20 miles during our 48 hours in the city, during which we saw countless old and beautiful buildings. Below I talk about several of the places we visited.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)
This magnificent cathedral was originally constructed in 1160 and was continually expanded until 1511. It was built on the ruins of two churches that had previously been destroyed. It is the most important religious building in Vienna and was dedicated to St. Stephen.
We saw the cathedral at two different times. The first was at dusk and the moon was rising behind the highest tower (which stands at 136 meters tall). It was beautiful against the nearly dark sky. We returned midday the next day to enter the cathedral and appreciate its magnificence on the inside. The architecture on both the inside and out was gorgeous and we sat for a long time appreciating the intricate art and construction of the building.
We also visited this baroque church twice, again, once at dusk and once midday. It is much smaller than Stephansdom, and yet we both agreed we found it more beautiful. Construction on Karlskirch started in 1716 and lasted until 1737 and is dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, who was widely known as a healer during the plague. It is constructed mainly of light marble, making it a bright and welcoming building.
During our visit, we entered the church and appreciated the brightness and colors. We were also able to take a temporary lift up to the top of the building, where we appreciated the artwork in the top of the dome. From here, we were also able to look out a high window at a view over the city.
Belvedere consists of three parts: upper belvedere, lower belvedere, and the gardens. Lower Belvedere was constructed first, likely completed in 1715. The palace looked down over large, beautiful grounds that were turned into a marvelous garden. Only a couple years later, construction began on Upper Belvedere, which was completed in 1723. It housed Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was known for his work as a general in the military and an art connoisseur.
Belvedere Palace was the first of the major attractions we saw. Just minutes from the train station, we walked straight to it after arriving in Vienna. The architecture and size of the palace alone awed us. We took a walk through the gardens and were able to appreciate the palace from all angles.
This palace was constructed in the 1740s and was built on a large piece of land that consists of gardens, structures, and even a zoo. The longest-reigning emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph, was born at Schonbrunn and spent much of his life there. The garden is known as the Great Parterre. It contains a maze, sculptures, paths, fountains, and more.
This was our final and favorite destination in Vienna. We arrived close to sunset and had the opportunity to sit atop the hill overlooking the palace and gardens during sunset. The palace was stunningly beautiful and the sunset created a beautiful light in the sky that made everything perfect. We sat for a long time, looking over the palace and over all of Vienna.
Vienna is full of incredible museums, and we decided to choose just one to visit. The Albertina is known as one of the best art museums in the world. During our visit there, we were able to tour part of the building representing what the building looked like in the early 1800’s, when it was occupied and used for parties. We also got to see work from famous artists, including Picasso and Monet. They had one of Monet’s Water Lily paintings on display, and it was amazing to see it in person! The Albertina was a great museum and very affordable.
I really enjoyed the food in Vienna. On the first night we ate dinner at a bar near the center. Gloria got wiener schnitzel with Erdapfelsalat (potato salad) and I got Austrian spaetzle (like mac and cheese, but with dumplings instead of noodles). Both were delicious, filling, and popular foods in Vienna. The next day we had breakfast at a small café near our AirBnb, where I had an omelets and cappuccino. It was amazing! It was one of my favorite meals I’ve had so far since being in Europe. The café was also very cute and we enjoyed the time we spent there. That afternoon we tried wiener wurstel, which is perhaps the most “famous” food in Vienna. It was good, but nothing to die for. Perhaps if you are someone who really loves sausage, it would be a mouth-watering meal, but neither Gloria nor I really like sausage in the first place. That night we had really good authentic Japanese food. The following morning we found an adorable café for our final meal, where I got ham and eggs, and we both tried Sachertorte, which is a proud symbol of Vienna. It is a dense chocolate cake containing thin layers of apricot jam and chocolate frosting. It was amazing, but Gloria said it was really no different from the Sachertorte from her home in Italy.
Overall, Vienna was a wonderful city to visit. Even for someone who doesn’t particularly like big cities, Vienna had a lot to offer and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I may return for a day trip in a few months to see the city when it’s greener, but I also might not make it back. If you are in Europe and enjoy beautiful architecture and history, take the time to visit Vienna!
(Some history and information was taken from Wikipedia.com)