Visiting Viena in 3 Days – Day 2 & Day 3

Viena - 1022nd Day

– The Royal Summer Residence and the Palace of the Prince who was a General!  

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a royal day, lost among palaces, listening about royal stories and understanding the splendor (almost never perfect) of those lives. A full day and extremely tiring but worth every minute!

We love to walk, we find that public transportation makes us lose amazing moments in the city, like a church, a park, a monument, that if we weren’t on foot we would certainly miss. But today is the day to use public transports! We took the subway on the place we finished our last day, at KarlsKirche (see), and we headed to the astonishing Schloss Schonbrunn.

Viena - 103Schloss Schonbrunn

This maximum exponent of Johann Fisher von Erlach’s Baroque architecture (the same of the Karlskirche) was the summer residence of the Imperial Habsburg’s family, yes, the summer house, nothing special or something!

It was built betwenn 1695 and 1713, but little of its original design remains, the Empress Maria Theresa ordered to remodel the interior in a rococo style, and in 1817-19, its facade suffered some major changes, time when it was painted in the characteristic “Schonbrunn yellow”.

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Maria Theresa was the only woman to govern in the Habsburgs Imperial family, thanks to her father who changed the laws of succession, like I talked about in the history of the city; Maria Theresa had 16 children, some of which with quite important names in the history of Europe, like Marie Antoinette of France, Maria Carolina of Bourbon – Two Sicilies, Maria Amália of Parma, Joseph II of Austria (her successor), and Leopold II, King of Bohemia.

Maria Theresa was one of most important figures of the Empire, being responsible for great financial and educational reforms, the promotion of commerce and the development of agriculture; besides organizing the Austrian army, strenghtening the international position of Austria. However, she refused to allow religious tolerance, leading her people to evaluate her regime as supersticious and prejudiced.

Well, back to the palace.

Believe me when I say that everything is monumental in this place, all the rooms, every piece of furniture, the chandeliers, the gardens, it even has a zoo! This was true wealth!

We opted for the Grand Tour, which allowed us to see 40 rooms inside the palace with audioguide for around 50 minutes. It seemed like the best options for us. Besides these rooms we also visited the gardens (open to the public, with many locals doing some running, usual in Vienna).

The Grand Tour costs 18.90€ – 12€ for children, and has 20% discount with the Vienna Card (more information).

There are other ticket options, the Imperial Tour, 22 rooms in 30 min, ideal for those with less time; the Sissi Ticket, that along with the Grand Tour in this palace also includes the entrance at the Hofburg Palace (will talk about it in the third day of the guide); and the Winter Passes, the normal and the Plus, that include the Grand Tour and also total access to all the places in the gardens, namely the zoo – the prices (adult) are respectively 12.90€, 28€, 25€, 32.5€.

Pay attention to the Winter Passes because, like the name hints, they can only be acquired during winter – from November to March. The entrance in the several areas of the garden can be acquired in the respective locations, as an individual ticket.

But on to what matters! Our tour around this monumental Imperial Summer house!

Honestly it was one of the places I most enjoyed in Vienna, it reminded me a lot of the Versailles Palace in Paris (moreover, this palace is called the Versailles of Vienna!).

The rooms have lots of old furniture disposed in most original way possible, which easily transports us back to that time and I strongly advise you to do the tour with audioguide. I got to know even more about the Habsburgs and their arranged weddings with other royal families, namely the French!

The Mirror Room has a special touch, because besides the beauty of the rococo decoration and its crystal mirrors, it was here that Mozart, still a child, gave a private concert to the Empress.

The Grand Gallery is one of the most imposing places, with tall windows, majestic chandeliers, golden and white tones rivaling among them and a perfect example of the rococo style. You can only imagine a ball or a banquet! Amazing!

The Napoleon room is less imposing but still beautiful, with Flemish tapestries. And you’re asking yourselves why does Napoleon have a room here?! First because he occupied Vienna between 1805 and 1809 and secondly because he married one of Maria Theresa’s daughters, Maria Luisa.

All the rooms are astonishing, I loved the Chinese hall, with its blue rice paper walls and the chambers of Maria Theresa and of Empress Sissi. Above all, this visit served as an exponent of the history of Austria, and Europe itself, realizing the connections they made to keep and increase the Empire, the forced weddings, the broken lifes they kept for the appearences and the wealth they accumulated, completely amazing.

Highlight to two important facts, the way Maria Cristina, Maria Theresa’s favorite daughter, was able to marry in love, with Albert of Saxe-Teschen (his brothers hated her!) and the entire story of the crazy love of Francis Joseph I with his wife Sissi, and the lack of feelings she had for him (I’ll talk about these two tomorrow).

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We then headed to the amazing gardens.

As I said, they’re open to the public, however to visit some places you need to buy tickets, like the Carriages Museum, the Orangerie or the Zoo. We didn’t visit any of them, we just wandered in the gardens, like in a court walk!

Viena - 96 The gardens of the palace with Gloriette in the background 

Highlight to the Zoo, for being the oldest in the world, founded in 1752.

The ex-libris of the gardens is the Gloriette, the neo-classical arcade of the building gives an even more emperial touch to the gardens.

Another important spot is the Bella Fonte, reportedly, in 1619 (when the place was just hoods), the Emperor Matias was hunting in the area and found a fountain, and exclaimed Schobrunn, which means bridge in German, and that being the name given to the palace.

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It was a royal morning, but it’s time to stop for a while and eat!

Viena - 88Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper

We then took the subway back to the center of the city and went to lunch in one of the most famous and looked for chains in the city, the Plachutta, in this case at Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper, right next to the Opera. Here we had the famous Wiener Schnitzel, typical from Austria, served in a giant dose and very tasty.

Viena - 89Wiener Schnitzel and a potato and onion salad

Don’t miss this delight , when we travel we must eat what the locals eat!

With a full stomach, we rested a bit at the beautiful Stadtpark.

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Viena - 90Stadtpark

But it’s time to continue and we went to Belvedere, the palace of Prince Eugene.

Prince Eugene of Savoy was the most acclaimed Habsburgs general due to his victory against the Turkish in 1683. With the money he accumulated with his victories he ordered the construction of a summer palace, with two galleries, the Upper and the Lower Belvedere. It was the most ambitious and expensive construction ordered by a private person, and resulted in a beautiful Baroque art example and one of the most beautiful buildings of Vienna.

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The Lower Belvedere is used for temporary art displays and also contains the quarters and the reception halls.

Once it was late and we were tired we chose to just visit the Upper Belvedere. The entrance costs 14€ but with the Vienna Card we paid 12.5€.

Viena - 80

The  Upper Belvedere is imposing right on the entrance, with its Sala Terrena, where four herculean figures support the ceiling dome and an elegant straircase does the honors.

On the first floor I got blown away by the Marble Hall, used for balls and receptions, here was signed the Austrian State Treaty in 1955. Besides this wonderful hall, here we have some works of the most important Austrian artists, like The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, 1909, or some most outstanding works of Oscar Kokoschka, Expressionism.

Viena - 81 Belvedere Gardens

On the second floor we continued with the art feast with some of the most acclaimed artists of the Realism, Impressionism, Romanticism, Neoclassicism, Baroque and the early XIX century. Highlight to the Physiognomy and Temperaments of Franz Xavier Messerschimdt, which includes busts in which the facial expressions and states of mind are taken to the extreme.

On the Upper Belvedere, through the works of some of the artists, like Gustav Klimt, the Movement of Secession is quite present; movement that happened around 1900 when Austrian Artists Association – Secession was founded, with the intent of breaking tradition, with the dominant style revealing in strong colors, fluid human forms and stylized plants. It was an awakening period in art that magnified Vienna.

We ended our visit to the Upper Belvedere in its wonderful gardens to the French style with its beautiful statues of muses and sphinxes.

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And like that we ended another day in the Imperial Vienna, and today we can really say it was a royal day!

We were already feeling tired, we took the Tram, right next to the Belvedere stop to our also imperial Hotel (see), where we rested for a few hours before having one of the most memorable gastronomic experiences in the starred restaurant Edvard of the Hotel Palais Hansen Kempinski (see).

Viena - 683rd DAY

– The Palace and the Albertina 

Third and last day in the wonderful Vienna.
We left the most important building in the city for last, the Palace Real Hofburg.

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This is the former Imperial Palace of Vienna, which sumptuousness catches everybody’s attention.
This complex, or castle, was continuosly enlarged until 1918, when the Habsburgs Empire ended.
As the power of the Habsburgs was growing, the successive emperors added more buildings to the palace.

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Nowadays, it houses the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic, an international conference center, the horse riding school, several official and private apartments, several museums and halls open to the public.

The entrance to the Sissi Museum with the royal chambers and the silver collections costs 12.5€, with the Vienna Card costs 11.5€.

Empress Sissi is one of the most important figures of the country, some say the success of her husband, Francis Joseph, the Emperor, was obtained thanks to her.

Francis Joseph was known as the Reformist Emperor, because after a long period of political complications he brought peace to Vienna, creating a new era of splendor able to bring artists, writers and composers to the city.

Viena - 12

Francis Joseph was coronated at the age of 18 and married Sissi with 23, in 1853. Seemingly it was love at first side on his side, once he was promised Sissi’s sister, not her!

But this love wasn’t completely matched, Sissi never accepted the rigidity of the court and the Austrian behaviors, the relatioship with the mother in law was unbearable, she wouldn’t even let her raise her children and Francis Joseph was gone for long periods.

Sissi lived in constant depression, which was aggravated with the death of her only male son. However, besides it all, Sissi and Francis Joseph ruled Vienna like no others and were loved by the people.

And the hapiness of Sissi arrived when she was acclaimed Queen of Hungry, in 1867, and she began to spend more time in Hungry than Austria, showing her clear preference by the Hungarian Empire. The world of Francis Joseph fell apart when Sissi was murdered by an Italian anarchist, in 1898.

Curiosity: one of the places to where Sissi most traveled and loved was Madeira!

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But on to her chambers, we can see the wealth of that period, many of the rooms are entirely dedicated to Sissi  and are kept just like when she used them.

During the visit you’ll also see the colections of the Imperial Silverware and be able to understand the splendor of the banquets held there.
Along the visit it is also possible to see some of the biggest treasures of the Habsburgs Empire.

The entire complex of the palace is majestic, even if you don’t enter it’s possible to feel its power, grandiosity and greatness of the space.
In this place it’s also possible to visit the Court’s Chapel, one of the oldest places in the palace, where once Mozart gave privileged concerts, the National Library, and the Winter Riding School.

For sure, an highlight of the city, and of Europe.

Viena - 38Bitzinger Würstelstand

We left the palace and walked along it, admiring its beauty, we decided to do a brief stop to eat something. We opted to try the traditional Austrian sausages, for that we chose the Bitzinger Würstelstand, next to the Albertina Palace.

Viena - 37The delicious Austrian sausages 

Viena - 73Albertina

Already with charged batteries, we decided to end our day at the Albertina Palace, whose founder was the husband of that Maria Theresa’s daughter who was able to marry for love, remember?! The Duke Albert of Saxen-Teschen. Nowadays this palace serves as house to the biggest and most expensive graphic art colections. It’s also used for temporary displays of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs. By the time we visited was occuring a display of Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter, a precursor of the German Expressionism.

Viena - 13 Albertina

And so we ended our last day in Vienna, already missing it and realizing our time wasn’t enough, there’s so much to see, to do… In case you’re only able to go for three days like us, I hope this guide can help you, if you have more time I suggest some other places to see and things to do:

– Natural History Museum (Natur-historisches museum)
– Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum)
– Modern Art Museum (Museumsquartier)
All of them located next to each other, with a monument to Maria Theresa in the center.

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 Viena - 63Monument to Maria Theresa

Also don’t miss:
– going to the Opera, book online, even if it’s not you’re favorite opera.
– a classical music concert, with the organ as king, in one of the beautiful churches.
– a rest moment in some of the wonderful coffee shops of Vienna, in an environment that’ll easily transport us to the Bohemian environment of another time – the Central Café is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the city. But you have a lot of options.
– Shopping in the cosmopolitan region of Golden Quarter, where you’ll find the best brands.

Viena - 55Golden Quarter

Enjoy this city to the fullest, it may not be everyone’s favorite destination, but for sure no one can deny its beauty, elegance and opulence.

One of my European cities of election.

  Viena - 41       Viena - 32       Viena - 15

  Viena - 35       Viena - 60       Viena - 85

  Viena - 106       Viena - 49       Viena - 36

Where to stay
InterContinental Wien
Park Hyatt Vienna

Versão Portuguesa

Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses with Sony A7S

Disclaimer
– In Vienna we had the support of Vienna Tourism Board in the organization of our trip and visit to some of the places.
– Photographs aren’t allowed inside Palaces and Museums. 
– The pictures don’t always represent our first passage in some of the places or even the same day of the travel.

This article is the 2nd of two articles for our Vienna Guide  – (see Day 1)

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