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Belvedere PalaceVienna is the capital of Austria and home for 1.6 million people. It was the official residence and center of the Hapsburg empire for over 600 years. It is still the political, economic, intellectual and cultural hub of the country. Considered one of the world's greatest musical centers, it was home to Mozart, Hayden, Strauss, Beethoven and Schubert.

Our morning tour of Vienna started at the Belvedere Palace with its extensive gardens. Belvedere was the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy. It was built in 1714-25 in baroque style. During the Habsburg dynasty, it was the residence of Archduke Francis Ferdinand. It currently houses two museums of art.

St. Stephen's CathedralWe then stopped at St. Stephan's Cathedral, considered the finest gothic church in Austria. It was built in the 12th century on the remains of a Roman sanctuary. The giant doorways and pagan towers are all that remain of the original structure which was badly damaged during multiple wars and a fire in 1945. It is now restored in a mixture of gothic, baroque and Romanesque styles. During our first visit to the church, it seemed very dark and gloomy inside, matching the day's weather outside which was cold, windy and raining. However, after lunch on the ship, we returned. The sun came out and the inside of the church was gorgeous with the light streaming through the stained glass windows. To even enhance the experience, there was a full orchestra and choir rehearsing for their evening performance. What a gorgeous sound filled the air.

MimeWith the sun out, we decided to spend the afternoon walking around this beautiful city. Several mimes stood like statues around St. Stephan's, families strolled through the Hofburg palace grounds and gardens. National TheaterOur necks hurt from looking at all the statues on top of the buildings throughout the city. We even happened on a snow fair that was going on in front of the town hall. It included snow for cross country and downhill skiing, a German band entertaining the crowd and of course lots of beer and hot gluwein.




Museum Town Hall

In the evening, we attended a wonderful concert in the Kursalon, featuring singers, dancers and a 13 piece orchestra playing the beautiful music of Mozart and Strauss. The Kursalon is a hall that was built for Strauss and the acoustics were fabulous.

To view additional photos from Vienna, click on Vienna Photo Gallery.



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