Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Austria: Historic Centre of Vienna & Schönbrunn Palace

Having taken up piano lessons as a kid, I was introduced quite young to classical music. Learning Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss and Brahms, all Viennese composers, and listening to the beautiful waltz An der schönen, blauen Donau (Blue Danube), I've been fascinated with the contribution of Vienna, Austria to classical music. No doubt, it deserves its title, the City of Music.

So I did not pass up on the chance to visit Vienna as we drove around Europe last year. Aside from music, Vienna is also rich in architectural heritage. The Historic Centre of Vienna and the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn which is also in Vienna, are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Vienna was just an hour away from Bratislava, Slovakia. After our dinner in Bratislava, we drove to Vienna where we decided to spend the night. The next day was unfortunately foggy, windy and cold. But it didn't stop us from walking around Vienna's historic streets.

We spent the morning walking around and exploring the Innere Stadt or Old Town of Vienna around the area of Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral) and Stephansplatz. The streets were actually being decorated for Christmas and I could imagine how charming it would look when the lights are switched on.

We walked through Michaelerplatz which is dominated by Michaelertor, the impressive neo-Baroque gate to the Hofburg Palace, the Hapsburg seat of power and currently the residence of the president of Austria. There was actually a tourism promotional campaign from Azerbaijan happening at Michaelerplatz. And we got to enjoy Azerbaijani food, drinks and cultural performances.

From Hofburg, we walked towards Maria-Theresienplatz, Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History) and Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (Museum of Natural History of Vienna) where stalls had been set up for the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market), a street market that is held during the four weeks of advent.

One highlight of Christmas Markets are the food stalls which feature local snacks and dishes.

I enjoyed the local breads, sausages and potato dishes, plus the schinkennockerl! Really good!

Later in the afternoon, we took Vienna's underground to Schönbrunn Palace. Unfortunately, since it was autumn, the gardens were not at their best. We got to marvel at the interior of the palace. Too bad though we couldn't take photos.

It got really cold and windy that we decided to call it a day quite early and start our drive to Prague, Czech Republic where we were going to spend the night. See more Vienna, Austria photos.

How to get to Schönbrunn Palace
You can take underground line U4, tram number 10 or 58, or bus number 10A to Schönbrunn Station. The palace is walking distance from the stations.
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