Saturday, June 6, 2009


Vienna is a beautiful and very clean city. Overall, it wasn't my favorite city. I think mostly that stems from the fact that we spent a lot of time trying to find the tram that circles the city (as described in our Rick Steve's guidebook). Unfortunately, even though the guidebook was just published in 2008, as of January 1st 2009 that tram route no longer exists. When we finally stopped at a tram station and looked confused enough (and 'discussed' it loud enough), someone who spoke English told us the tram route doesn't exist anymore.

So. Should you go to Vienna, don't plan on using the tram to get an 'overall feel' of the city, unless you're planning to get on, hop off, change trams, go back, etc. If there's one of those sightseeing buses, I would suggest doing that instead if you want to get a feel for where everything is and snap some exterior pictures, etc.

That slightly annoying part aside, Vienna is really pretty, and if we had more time there, I think I would have liked it better. I feel like we just didn't have time to see everything. I don't even know how long we were there, but it didn't feel like long at all.

The Hofburg, ever-added-onto Imperial Palace of the Hapsburg family.

A church that I don't know the name of.

I loved the way the sunlight sent the colors of the windows pouring onto the floors, arches, columns, and benches of the church.

The Karlskirche

This was built as a museum, which to me says a lot about the wealth of the Hapsburgs. The Louvre is beautiful, but it was built as a palace, and later became a museum. To put this much effort and detail into a building whose sole purpose is to house an art collection shows how much they appreciated their collection. (Or shows how much they wanted to one-up everyone... Maybe? Don't really know. Either way, it's really pretty.)

You may or may not remember this guy. What talent, and what patience. I like his version better because it's brighter. To be fair, the original was probably brighter when it was first painted, so a nice restoration would probably help the colors look less muddy.

Some park in the city that has a statue of Mozart.

The Opera (Staatsoper)

I loved the view from the back--no tram cables, and no ugly Children's Opera banners. (Though I do think it's cool that they have programs or shows that appeal to children to help interest them in the opera.)

The Capuchin's Church, below which you will find the Hapsburg's Imperial Crypt.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

One thing I thought was really interesting about Vienna is that many of the buildings had nets like the one below covering sides of buildings to prevent pigeons from landing on the building and... pooping all over the building. They did this in Prague, as well. Somewhat annoying for close-up pictures of some of the details, but logistically it totally makes sense.

Ames by the Danube.

Et moi, aussi.

The next morning, we got up and visited the Schonbrunn Palace. It was really beautiful, but pictures are only allowed outside on the grounds. So, here you go. :)

After Schonbrunn, we hopped in the car, fueled up, and headed for Prague!

1 comment:

Billy Bob Bambino Bombabious Baby the Third said...

The stained glass, as we've discussed before, is a technique they used to fill the place with light. Every aspect of your experience in these cathedrals is specifically engineered to make you feel a certain way. In some ways, it's not unlike Disneyland and their "imagineering". The idea is to get people to forget about "real" life for a while - forget about the mundane and relax and enjoy. On a side note, I wonder how much of the liturgy of the church was influenced by the architecture and vice versa.

For example, when the early Roman basilica recieved a transcept (they took a straight basilica and turned it 90 degrees and made it into a cross shape) there were many things that suddenly became significant. The circumambulation led pilgrims from outside the cathedral to the icons and relics and donation boxes. Since this took some time, why not add some stations - thus leading to the stations of the cross - teaching about the passion of the Christ. Also, where the transcept intersection occurred, it was a structurally sound place to locate a dome. Since all domes are round, you had to transition from a square to a circle. This problem was solved by using "squinches" (I love that word!) which take piers supporting the dome from a square to a round shape. They're very beautiful. It just so happens that there's four corners of this intersection, and therefore four squinches. Hey, there's four gospels, too! So each squinch gets a portrait - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John... So again, I wonder which came first - the gospels or the squinches...

Not that it REALLY matters. The space is beautiful and it leads us to elevate our thoughts. It is instructional and inspiring.