Our last stop during our 9 day Semana Santa trip was Vienna. We only spent 2 days there and I realized before we got there we simply would not be able to see everything we wanted while we were there. Like many capital cities, Vienna is very spread out–this means so are the sight-seeing spots. Vienna is definitely a city that deserves more than a 2 day visit, simply because there is so much to see.
However, out of all the places I visited that week (Heidelberg, Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna) it was also my least favorite and left me rather indifferent. Why? I’m not really sure to be honest. Maybe it was because I had heard so much about the city–people rave about Vienna’s beauty and its history. I liked the things I got to see and experience, but I didn’t come away with a new found adoration for the city. Maybe I set my expectations too high–I haven’t been able to put my finger on it. So no, I didn’t LOVE Vienna, but I didn’t hate it either–it was alright.
On our first day, one of the first things we did was get on the U-Bahn and make our way to Stephansplatz, where Vienna’s cathedral, St. Stephen’s Cathedral (also known as the Stephansdom in German) is located. Hands down, my favorite part about this cathedral was its roof. Nicole and I decided to go up the tower to see Vienna from high up. From the tower, we were able to get up close with the roof. The roof is covered by 230,000 glazed tiles which form a mosaic of several images: an eagle (symbol of the Habsburg Dynasty) and a triangular geometric pattern. We were unable to walk around freely in the actual cathedral though–it was barred off for some reason. I wasn’t sure if it was because it was Easter and they wanted to limit visitors from wandering around.
I’m not bothering with pictures of the view from the tower because I didn’t think the view was that great. We also had horrible weather the entire time we were in Vienna so there really isn’t much to see in those pictures.
We then headed to Karlskirche aka St. Charles’s Church. I forgot to take an exterior shot of this church (google image it though, because it’s beautiful on the outside) but I took some of the interior. I liked it even better than the cathedral.
Next on the agenda was a guided tour of the Vienna State Opera house, also called the Wiener Staatsoper. I’m not a huge fan of opera but I was excited to visit this building. I visited the Paris Opera House about a year ago and loved the tour so much; it is a beautiful building. The Vienna State Opera is one of the busiest opera houses in the world and arguably one of the most famous; the likes of Beethoven and Mozart have walked those hallowed halls! Particularly interesting to me was the fact the Opera House was bombed by an American plane raid during WWII. You can read about that story over at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_State_Opera
While I do prefer the Paris Opera house, the Vienna State Opera did not disappoint:
And now for the auditorium and the stage. We even got to go backstage and see the stagehands preparing for that night’s performance! That was an added bonus, since we didn’t get to do that during the Paris Opera tour.
I loved the tour of the Opera House. I’m not sure what it is about opulent music buildings, but I love them. And again, I’m not some huge opera aficionado.
I know you can buy standing only tickets the day of a performance. However, my friends and I decided to forgo this because you have to line up about an hour and a half before the beginning of the show. We had many things we wanted to visit and we didn’t want to waste time spending time in a line for show tickets. There was always the off chance they would run out of tickets and then it would have been time wasted. However if I ever go back to Vienna, this is something I do want to do.
In the next post, more about what I did my first day in Vienna. We packed A LOT in just 2 days.