Our Vienna apartment is great...
Vienna's Ringstrasse is 5.3 kilometers long. Long enough to provide space for numerous monumental buildings, which were built during the period of Historicism in the 1860s to 1890s. Today, the buildings that stand there – from the Vienna State Opera to the Museum of Fine Arts – are among the most important sights in the city of Vienna.
"It is my will..." - with these words, Emperor Franz Joseph ordered the building of the Ringstrasse in 1857. Nobles and rich citizens hurried to build pompous palaces along this magnificent boulevard. Many of these former private homes can still be admired today (mostly, however, only from the outside). The style in which the buildings were built went down in history as the Ringstrasse style (a type of Historicism). It is marked by a pluralism of styles: numerous architectural forms of previous epochs were imitated.
The most noteworthy buildings are not the palaces, but rather the large buildings such as the State Opera(built in the style of the Neo-Renaissance), the Parliament, City Hall (Flemish Gothic), the Burgtheater(New Baroque), the university (Neo-Renaissance), the Museum for Applied Art, the Vienna Stock Exchange, and the Votive Church (New Gothic), which were all constructed in the second half of the 19th century. Especially worth seeing are also the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum, both of which were built in the Neo-Renaissance style. They not only hold awesome art and natural treasures, but are also architectural masterpieces.
Master builders such as Theophil von Hansen, Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer, Gottfried Semper, Heinrich von Ferstel, and Friedrich von Schmidt shaped the image of the Ringstrasse. At the end of the 19th century, following the time of the Ringstrasse architecture, came Viennese Art Nouveau, which turned away from the ostentatious pomp and splendor.
A magnificent religious building with a large cupola: St. Charles' Church, the last work of the eminent baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. The church, finished in 1739 by his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, was built as the result of a vow taken by Emperor Charles VI during a plague epidemic. The church is consecrated to the patron saint of the Habsburg emperor, Saint Charles Borromeo: The exhibits in the small Museo Borromeo include the traveling clothes of the Bishop of Milan. The renovation of the High Altar, designed by Fischer von Erlach, has been completed and it has regained its original splendor. The opulent frescoes in the cupola by Johannes Michael Rottmayr contain 1250 square meters of incredible splendor and beautiful colors; they show the glory of Saint Charles Borromeo.
For more than seven centuries, the great empire of the Habsburgs was ruled from the Imperial Palace. Today, the Gothic Imperial Chapel, where the Vienna Boys’ Choir performs during High Mass on Sunday, is a remnant of the Imperial Palace during the Middle Ages.
In the center of the old city, you can admire the splendor and magnificence of the daily life of the noblest family of the Habsburg monarchy when you visit the private apartments and state rooms. Numerous museums and collections represent the imperial family’s passion for art.
The Imperial Palace, which until 1918 was inhabited by the imperial family, was originally a castle built in the thirteenth century, which was extended to a splendid residence in accordance with the increasing power of the Habsburgs and the expansion of their realm.
Today, the Imperial Palace houses the office of the President of Austria as well as an important congress center and numerous art collections.
Today, the former private apartments of the imperial family in the Imperial Palace are open to the public. Immerse yourself in the daily life of the monarchs. Emperor Franz Joseph and his Elisabeth lived here with their children and the entire royal household. From this location they represented the realm of the Habsburg and directed its politics. One can see not only the rooms for the officers of the imperial household, the large Audience Hall (with a painting by the Biedermeier painter Peter Krafft) and the Conference Room, where ministers and the crown council held their meetings. But one can also view the office of Emperor Franz Joseph as well as the living room and bedroom of his wife, numerous salons and an old-fashioned bathroom. The rooms are in the Rococo style, with rich stucco work and valuable tapestries from Brussels (17th and 18th centuries), chandeliers made from Bohemian crystal and tiled stoves made from porcelain. The furniture, added in the nineteenth century, is in the Louis XV and Empire styles.
The exhibited Habsburg dining service and silverware, the centerpieces and glassware shine as much today as they did in the old days at the Imperial Palace. They mirror the splendor of imperial dining tables ... Among other things, one can admire the famous "Milan Centerpiece," which is almost 30 meters long, porcelain from East Asia, Sèvres and Vienna as well as “panorama plates,” Fayence china, gold- and silverwork – among them the Vienna Court Silver as well as the "Grand Vermeil Service", an elegant table service for 140 persons. At the Café Hofburg, you will be treated royally with a great number of culinary delights.
The most important treasury in the world is reason indeed to be amazed: Here, in the oldest part of the Imperial Palace (13th century), you find not only the Emperor’s Crown of the Holy Roman Empire (circa 962) and the Austrian Emperor’s Crown (1602), but also the Burgundian Treasure from the fifteenth century and the Treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Fascinating treasures from the possessions of the Habsburgs, among them a "unicorn" almost two and a half meters long, are exhibited here together with the crown of Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612). The orb and scepter, the insignia of the imperial house of Austria, were symbols of might and dignity for centuries. These pieces are set with valuable jewels; they and the intricately worked jewelry are not only witnesses of history, they are also worth a fortune. The entrance to the Treasuries can be found in the Schweizerhof, whose name is reminiscent of the Swiss Guard that was once posted here.
Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), successful general and art connoisseur, had Belve-dere garden palace built by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt as his summer residence – at the time it was still outside the gates of the city. This baroque architectural jewel consists of two palaces (Upper and Lower Belvedere), which today house Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Upper Belvedere - world's largest Klimt collection
Lower Belvedere - Prince Eugene’s apartments and staterooms
St. Stephen's Cathedral is the symbol of Vienna. Construction commenced in the 12th century. Today, it is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. St. Stephen's Cathedral is 107.2 meters long and 34.2 meters wide. It has four towers. The tallest of these is the south tower at 136.44 meters. The tower room, from which there is a gigantic view across Vienna, is reached via 343 steps. A total of 13 bells hang here. However, the best-known bell of St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Pummerin, is located in the 68.3 meter-tall north tower. It is the second-biggest free-swinging chimed church bell in Europe. On the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral, colorful roof tiles were laid to create the Royal and Imperial double-headed eagle and the coat of arms of the city of Vienna. The interior of St. Stephen's Cathedral was changed again and again over the centuries, right through to the Baroque period.
© Glenn & Karen Marcus
my travels in Italy