Vienna is extremely clean with beautiful architectural buildings and stunning statues everywhere. We had our local guide to take us through the Ringstrasse and numerous magnificent buildings, such as the MAK, the State Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum, the cultural district the Museums Quartier, the City Hall and the Burgtheater. She was really good with lots of information.
On the way back to the opera we passed by the Belvedere Palace, the former summer residence of Prince Eugen, which houses the largest and the most precious Gustav Klimt collection in the world.
Hofburg Palace was the home of the ruling Hapsburgs until 1918, when all royalty was wiped out by WWI. It’s a beautiful and massive complex, and the main building now houses the National Library. The initial part is a museum of “Sissy” – Elizabeth, wife of Franz Josef, who was popular and well-loved Queen of Austria. She was originally Bavarian and revered by everyone at the time as the most beautiful person. At the age of 15, she was chosen over her sister Helena to marry the Prince of Austria. Sissy was considered beautiful and mysterious, and became a cult figure similar to Princess Diana when she was tragically assassinated in her later years. Her life was extremely interesting. The rest of the palace houses the imperial apartments. Every citizen had the right to a private audience with the emperor, so many of the rooms were geared to this event.
In front of the palace there is the statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy. He was one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, rising to the highest offices of state at the Imperial court in Vienna.
From there we went to St. Stephen’s cathedral .
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral has a very pretty exterior. The church sustained serious damage in WWII when a fire broke out; the roof burned and its large bell crashed to the floor. Originally built in 1240, it is a beautiful church in the Gothic style.
The cathedral is large and beautiful. There are tombs where the old Bishops are buried. Since its earliest days, St. Stephen’s Cathedral has been surrounded by cemeteries dating back to Roman times, and has sheltered the bodies of nobles and commoners. It has always been an honour to be buried inside a church, close to the physical presence of the saints whose relics are preserved there. Those less honoured were buried near (but outside) the church. Because of the colourful glasses on windows, multi-coloured light surrounds the cathedral making it bit difficult to see things as well as to take some nice photos.
We were there in the morning and it was quite busy.
Salzburg is just beautiful with its medieval Old Town . Salzburg is set on the edge of the Alps and the Fortress sits high atop a mountain overlooking the town. We crossed the Salzbach River to the Old City and headed to the famous Getreidegasse. All the stores on this street put up iron signs above their doors with images of what to find within for those who couldn’t read. And it is nice to see that till date the tradition has been maintained. Salzburg Cathedral was really beautiful even though it was destroyed in WWII.
Melk Abbey is an Austrian Benedictine abbey, and one of the world’s most famous monastic sites. It is located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Danube in Lower Austria, adjoining the Wachau valley.
It is symbolic to the 18th century excess of the baroque period by the religious aristocracy of the time. This is simply a superb place. The 30 year restoration of this Abbey was well done, and it is truly a jewel architecturally. Famous people and royalty have stayed within its walls and one certainly gets a sense of ”place” going through the various rooms.
The Abbey Chapel is really beautiful .There are also beautiful gardens and a pavilion, as well as a bastion and a nice restaurant with terrace rest and relax.
Mirabell Palace and gardens
Mirabell Garden is located right in the heart of Salzburg and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy. There is fortress, fountains, a gnome garden, small hedge maze and a great rose garden. If you have watched Sound of Music, you will realise that “Do-Re-Mi” song was filmed in this garden. A lovely place to stroll through with shade from large trees and overhanging trellises.
Wörthersee: Lake Worth
On the way to Italy we stopped over in this beautiful town called Wörthersee where there is an elongated lake that stretches from the Carinthian capital Klagenfurt in the east to Velden in the west.
The Wörthersee is the biggest of the Carinthian lakes. The lake is crystal clear and the scenery beautiful. The lake is at the base of the mountains with small resort towns dotting the shoreline. In summer you can have a lot of activities, like swimming, surfing, sailing, and fishing making it very popular. We had lunch in the restaurant overlooking the lake.