The Essential Vienna


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There are many things to see in Vienna, and walking through the city is like lifting the veil of time and stepping back into the Old World. It is home to St. Stephen's Cathedral, built in 1147, found in the heart of the city and so famous that no trip to the country would be complete without it. The Vienna Opera House, on the ither hand, is found on the first district, south of Kdrntnerstrasse. It was built from 1861 to 1869 by August von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der N|ll built the Court Opera House from 1861 to 1869.

The Belvedere Palace, built by the famous Baroque architect J. L. Von Hildebrant for Prince Eugene of Savoy, is breathtaking. The Hofburg is a remnant of the country's Medieval glory, when the Habsburgs were in power and Vienna was feared (and admired) all over the region. So is the Schvnbrunn Palace, used by the Habsburg rulers as a summer residence, and now considered to be one of the country's most important historical treasures.

Don't forget the Karlkirsche, the largest Baroque cathedral in the northern Alps. It was first constructed in 1715, by the renowned Austrian architect Johann Fischer von Erlach. Another important historical stopover is the National Theater, called the Burgtheatre. It used to be an abandoned dance house, until the Empress Maria Theresia turned it over to the theater group, Sellier in 1741. Since then it has set the stage for some of the country's most memorable performances.

While Austria is best known for its historical buildings, there are quite a few relatively modern structures that show that it is still a major center of arts and culture-and that it continues to create spaces that will be admired and enjoyed for centuries to come. One example is the Anchor Clock (built in the early 1900s) and famous for its Art Nouveau design. It is found on one of the oldest squares in the city and its designs were inspired by the painter Franz von Matsch. Another must-see is the Hofburg, affectionately called the Concrete Needle by the residents. It offers the best view of the city, and at its peak (it stands over 200 meters high) you can take lovely photos of the Danube and the cluster of lights that surround it. You should also stop by the Haas House, the city's pride. You can see the images of St. Stephen's cathedral reflecting off its glass fagade. Amazing.

Buy souvenirs and fresh fruits at the Naschmarket, one of the city's institutions (it's been operating since the 16th century). Or you can relax at the Prater, a fair that has sports facilities and a wonderful picnic area. Ride the Ferris wheel for a great view of the city. Children and adults alike will also like the Schvnbrunn Zoo is the world's oldest and only baroque zoo, just south of the Habsburgs’ summer residence. If you have time, you can also go to the Spanish Riding School (the oldest in the world), and see classic dressage at its most purest.

Philip Nicosia is the webmaster of an online resource centre covering many topics including destination guides .


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