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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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