I love Europe and every corner of Europe is so nice , very pleasant to travel and so for this time my blogpost will be on the city of beautiful Vienna. We are visiting Vienna for a special private occasion with some great old friends .We want to stroll around and enjoy the city – there is so much to see and to explore. I visited Vienna business wise before but never private – so I am happy to discover all the beauties of this marvelous city.
Vienna is the largest city and the capital in Austria with a population of approx. 1.8 Million people and is situated right in the middle, in the heart of Europe and is surrounded by further 8 European countries – by Hungary , Slovakia ,Germany , Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia and Czechia at the Danube river and at the Eastern fringe of the Alps.
The City is also called the “City of Music ” since it is home to many musicians, composers of classic music like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Strauss, Salieri, Chopin, Haydn and Brahms. It was in the 19th century when Vienna became a hub for musicians who grew classic music in that time period. Classical music, the opera, the ballet – all became the pride of the Austrian Empire in those days and the music industry was booming.
Vienna became the birthplace of the Dance of Waltz starting in the 16th century and was a folk dance in the Alps and the suburbs of Vienna. The former dances in the region were very stated and rigid while the Waltz changed the way of dancing where the couple is gliding and rotating in a 3/4 time and became a ballroom dance within the years.
We start exploring the city in the 1st district since this is the historical heart of the city that is framed with the Ringstrasse, the line of the old city walls which have been demolished in the 19th century to grow the outer line of the city.
In the 1st district there are all the ancient buildings former belonging to the Austrian Empire and which host today’s parliament or other public institutions and which nowadays became very famous museums – the Hofburg Palace, The Austrian Treasury, the National Library, the Kaisers Apartments, the Imperial Horse Barns, the famous Spanish Riding School, the Schoennbrunn Palace, Belvedere, the State Opera, the Parks of Burggarten and Volksgarten and moreover the ancient churches like the Karls Church, The Augustiner Church, the Stephan’s Dome, the Peters Church – in baroque and gothic style.
While strolling down the Kohlmarkt street right in front of the Hofburg Palace we find a lot of nice ancient little famous shops e.g. jewelers and cafes who have been serving the palace in the past. The Demel Café is one the most famous cafes, patisseries and chocolatiers in Vienna with a long history. It was built in 1786 in Vienna and held the title of being a supplier to the Royal Court and the Royal Family for pastry and cakes etc. (Hofzuckerbaeckerei).
Certainly we get into this very special cafe which is very crowded and we wait in the queue to get a table. While waiting over there you can have a view into the kitchen which is at the backside of the cafe where the chocolate and the pastry with its decoration is prepared.
Drinking coffee and having some good pastry is a must have in Vienna since the coffee as well as the pastry is a dream and one of the Best in the World!
Also very famous is the Cafe Sacher just opposite to the State Opera with its Sacher cake and Topfstrudel cake which were the favourites of the Imperial family.
Vienna is also one of the best places to visit museums and art galleries and this is why our first museum visit is to the famous Museum of Art History (Kunst- Historisches Museum Wien). The huge museum is on the Maria -Theresienplatz close to the Ring. The “Museum of Art History Vienna “and the ” Museum of Natural History Vienna ” are across each other at this place.
We enter the building and and start with the Egyptian and near Eastern Collections over here. I am really surprised and overwhelmed as I visited lots of ancient locations and cities in Egypt in the early 2000 and also the Cairo Museum in those days but did not see any of those pieces or similar ones that we are shown here in Vienna. The whole set up and display of the ancient pieces is also made in a very impressive way.
In this section about 17000 pieces are displayed and they cover a time frame of about 4000 years starting at 3500 BC.
Each and every piece is unique and very precious and it is great that mankind could protect and reserve those. On the other hand I just imagine on how nice it would be if those awesome pieces were displayed in the same way in their original historical places, in their home country where they belong to as this would be much more fascinating.
We just move on with the Greek and Roman collections and all the pieces from allover the world. All the aisles with all the special collections are very impressive.
We also want to visit the Ephesus section in the museum which should be also amazing but unfortunately it is under construction and will be re-opened in Nov 2018.
Ephesus was one of the most important and largest cities in the Antique World, located near to todays town of Izmir in Turkey. Austrian Archeologists started excavations at this place around 1895 till 1906. They found high quality antique pieces in the region such as the Parthian Monument, the Amazon from the Altar of the Artemission, the bronze athlete and the Child with a goose and many others . Again ,it would be so nice if these pieces would be also displayed in their home places where they originally belong to.
In the afternoon we have a look at the picture gallery which is on one of the upper floors. The whole collection is developed from the Art Collection of the House of Habsburg and is one of the largest and most important ones in the World today.
World famous paintings of Klimt, Picasso, Duerer, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Raphael, Rubens, Cranach, Vermeer and many others are arranged here in a great way. It is a delight to go through all the rooms one after the other and the aisles and have a look around at all these beautiful pictures of the masters of the very old times.
When you finish or when you want to have a break between the floors there is also a very nicely decorated café area in the museum on the 1st floor.
One of our next museum visits is to the Kaisers Apartments of the Hofburg Palace – it is the place where Kaiser Franz Josef I and his wife Empress Elisabeth of Austria were living in the 19th century.
They became the most famous couple of the Austrian Empire , probably also due to the 3 Austrian “Sissi” films with Romy Schneider and Karl Heinz Boehm which are telling about the destiny of Empress Elisabeth who is also called and beloved as “Sissi “by the Austrian people.We walk through the rooms of the Kaiser Apartments and have an insight into the life style of the Austrian Imperial Family.
The whole porcelain collection, the silver collection, the whole cutlery and table decoration of the Imperial House which was used over the centuries is displayed over here.
In the Kaiser Appartements we visit the official and private rooms of Kaiser Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth and listen to the guide who is telling us about the resistance and the rebellion of Elisabeth against the royal traditions and the family. We are unfortunately not allowed to take photos.
When we leave the “Sissi Museum”, outside we are embraced by the so-called “Imperial Weather” which last throughout the whole trip – it’s sunny, perfect spring weather and about more than 20 degrees celsius.
On the other day we are invited to the Museum Quarter of Vienna – what a great idea and honor to give ART such a high value – to have a special own zone for museums and galleries – a melting pot of history and new Zeitgeist.
In the Museum Quarter there is the Leopold Museum facing the Mumok Museum – both museums of contemporary art. In the same quarter there is an architectural museum as well as the “Zoom Kindermuseum “and lots of art galleries and offices for art projects and work. It is a huge place where all these buildings are placed at. In the middle of this place there are also several nice cafes to have some drinks and some small bites and some lilac furniture just to sit down or lie down to read a book or to enjoy the sun and spend some time with muse.
We prefer to visit the Leopold Museum and I am very surprised to see that many different very famous contemporary painters pictures here – there is a selection of Klimt, Kokoschka, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and many others.
We walk through the different floors and study the paintings and their explanations.
One of the pictures that I am quite impressed by is one of the pictures of Klimt which is called “Death and Life”.
This painting is from 1910 and one of the masterpieces of Klimt who was an Austrian painter, known for his very decorative and a little erotic way of paintings which was counted a kind of revolution and rebellion against the traditional art of those days.
When you stand in front of this picture and study it, you begin to think about life.
Life is presented in this picture in form of a family, kids, happiness, gathering, a baby with its mom and grandmother – nice colors , little decorations – all look very happy and the happiness and positive side of life is shown.
Very close by on the counterpart of the picture there is a skeleton having a malicious smile on his face presenting the end of life , death in gloomy colors – who seems just to wait for for the time to attack and to destroy this happiness and family’s life with the love that people feel for each other.
Isn’t life really like this – you are happy, you are with your beloved ones, your kids and family but it might just take a minute that death is coming onto the stage that this happiness and chapter of life is gone and life can never be the same as before…
Any picture might tell you a different story. I think it is interesting and important to study the pictures together with the painters’ life and their characters to understand.
But why is Art so important ?
If you look at it, art exists on earth since the beginning of mankind since thousands of years – look at the walls in the caves where the people lived in the stone age and also later and you will find their paintings in their living spaces allover the world.
Art is about showing existence, presence and your own history.
Art is a way to communicate your thoughts , your ideas , your feelings.
Art is a way to purify your soul and free your mind.
Art is a way of entertainment.
Art has a universal language.
Art is a tool to think , to analyze , to struggle , to fight and to find solutions.
Art is always about mankind and for the well -being of society and the individual.
For this reason I think art should be always in the focus of society and the value of art needs to be high to develop mankind and this is how a new Zeitgeist begins.
Especially for kids and young people there should be more opportunities to learn about art and to be a part of art in form of music , painting, story-telling , writing , sculpturing whatever – but for sure there will be more peace and tolerance in the world when we have more room for art.
It is an amazing experience here in all the museums and I definitely would recommend to anybody to visit any of those places when you go to Vienna.
After our visit in the Leopold Museum we meet our friends in the café in front of the museum and drink our coffees, proseccos and cold aperols – it is a beautiful summer day and the conversation with friends is wonderful . It is a great day of Re-Union after 30 years which we celebrate here in Vienna by visiting the city and these great locations of art and music and it is nice if you have luck and there is even somebody playing some music on a flute or another instrument which is softly coming to your ears.
We finalize our trip on the last night with a great Strauss concert in the Kursalon Wien listening to the great orchestra and the singers and watching the ballet and ballerina dancing and having a great night on the terrace of the building on this summer night.
We deeply breathe the night air into our lungs and are so thankful to be here.