One of the more historic cities in the world flaunts her art, beauty, and culture, presenting a character that must be all her own. At every stop on this trip we hear about the significance of Vienna in the culture, goods, and rulers across much of Europe. Now we get to see this grande dame.
We found that the fullness of Vienna cannot be absorbed in the day and a half that we have here; perhaps not in a week or two. It is a place against which we are destined to compare other major metropolises of the world (I would prefer to change that spelling to metropolii, but I shall conform to the dictatorial edicts of the dictionary). It is bustling, artistic, grandiose, friendly, and more compact than it first seems. We once again walk throughout the inner city on tour and on our own, seeing as much as possible and capturing a bit on our cameras.
The photos below are from one sunlit day. The tale of this night is worthy of a separate posting if-and-when time is available. A hint? The evening begins and ends with the letter ‘A’ … “a” as in the beginning of Anniversary and “a” as in the ending for operA.
Towering above us are the spires of St. Stephens cathedral in the heart of the city. Viennese fancy that the peaks of this church are visible from nearly any point in the area, but that is not the case at all. We shall not hold that against them, understanding there are historical, religious, and prideful reasons that make the second tallest structure of Vienna seem even larger than it is.
St. Stephens stretches to the sky. The regrets we take away from this spot on the square are that (1) our tour arrived at the time that sunlight strikes the back of the church rather than having the photographic advantage of light being at the back of our heads, and (2) we did not return to this square on our own to complete the visit and have a look inside the structure.
A short walk presents the shining beauty of the Hofburg Palace, once the imperial gateway to the city, structured as it is to impress and excite arriving visitors.
Just on the perimeter of the central city, easily within walking distance, and located on the tram line that can take us to or from the ship’s port, we find Belvedere Palace. Today this edifice is a museum, and the grounds have retained their vast gardens. It is late afternoon and we have a big night planned, thus the viewer sees what we did, which is grandeur.
Belvedere Palace gardens throw themselves toward the city center. The elevated perch of the palace (at Betsy’s back for this photo) on a sloping hill yields views to the hills well beyond the city. At the left edge of the image can be seen a church tower.
Zoom! Still at the door of Belvedere Palace, Doug’s zoom picks out details beyond the gardens, and even beyond the city. At the left is indeed the spire of St. Stephens cathedral, successfully delivering a focal point for the citizens of Vienna who choose to live on this southeast perimeter of the central city. In the far distance to the right, embedded in the hillside, appears to be a castle erupting from the forest of trees. One wonders if that was home to friend or foe; Vienna has experienced plenty of both throughout history.
Allow me to share the fun of attempting to find a unique photographic view of Vienna scenery. At Belvedere gardens, we have the legs of a lion statue, the “king of the jungle” relegated to the role of “garden protector.” Even his massive legs and paws do not fully obscure St. Stephens from view, which I gather is just how the Viennese would wish things to be.
If challenged to see Vienna without seeing works of art, do not accept the dare. Art is everywhere, and this is just a sample where glittering gold greets visitors from the tops of a building’s brilliant statues.
This artful clock is another example of art that just “hangs around” Vienna.
Art can be old or new; it resides above, beside, or below you; it is everywhere you look in Vienna. In this case the outdoor stairwell of the Albertina Museum complex has been made a canvas for a painting about paintings of an upcoming exhibit.
Sculpture captures my attention generally, and my eyes become prisoners in Vienna because carvings and castings surround them. Though I direct the lens to capture a large piece across the street from Albertina Museum and facing the State Opera, I recall that it is but a portion of a work much larger. Here a man, woman, and child seem happy and also truly unaware of the burden borne by those below them. Perhaps they are a god and goddesses, more blessing than burden.
The excitement of a powerful fountain near a war memorial on Schwarzenburg Platz (Square) captures our attention. The view from one side contains a rainbow dancing on the drops of mist. This chosen angle shares the brilliance of the jetting water against a blue sky, flanked by non-identical but clearly symmetrical white buildings that shine in the same sun that creates rainbows.
Our *cabin* which the crew insists we shall not call a *room,* because this hotel is afloat. For days the Danube will race swiftly by our window, whether we are tethered to the shore or going with the flow. We hate to see Vienna being put in the rear view mirror, but we will remember her well.