It’s Christmas in (almost) July!

This month’s Thursday Travel Throwback posts share a trip to Vienna G and I took a couple of Decembers ago to enjoy the Christmas markets.

Arriving in Vienna is a lot like stepping back in time to an age of almost unimaginable grandeur and imperial power…

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We had wanted to go somewhere for the holiday season that would give us a unique experience and having read about the famous Austrian Christmas markets we were sold.

Having done my research (see my travel planning process here) I knew that Vienna is a city of history and culture but I never could have imagined the feeling of imperial power it conveys. We arrived after an early-morning flight and quickly dropped our bags at the hotel so we could head out. Stepping onto the city streets I was immediately charmed.

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Our hotel was just down the road from the famous Vienna State Opera House…

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…and just a short walk away from Hofburg Palace, which we accessed through Burggarten, passing some famous residents of Vienna on the way.

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Hofburg Palace was once home to the Habsburg emperors and today is where the offices of the Austrian president can be found. A vast collection of buildings make up the palace as it now stands and in addition to its political residents it also houses various museums including the Imperial Apartments and the National Library.

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The Imperial Apartments showcase the finery of a bygone imperial era with special focus on Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria, whom the Austrians lovingly referred to as ‘Sisi’.

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Sisi was beautiful, dignified and elegant and the Austrian people still adore her to this day. Walking through the rooms she and her husband once occupied was a captivating experience.

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I was already impressed with Hofburg but when we walked out into Heroes’ Square (formerly the palace’s parade ground) and I saw the facade of the semi-circular Neue Burg I was temporarily knocked speechless.

The sheer scale of it is truly incredible and pictures don’t do justice to the sense of power and drama it creates in the heart and mind of the beholder.

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I live for moments and sights like this!

After we had wandered through the various buildings and extensive grounds of Hofburg we headed across the street to the Museum Quarter where we came across the first (of many many many) Christmas market.

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The Maria Theresa Monument (above) commemorates the life of Empress Maria Theresa, mother of Queen Marie Antoinette of France.

Walking north from the Museum Quarter we passed in front of the parliament building towards Neues Rathaus, the Town Hall famous for it’s stunning facade.

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We got lost in the Christmas market and before we knew it night was falling. After a stop for dinner we continued to walk through the city streets, not quite ready to call it a night just yet.

We saw some impressive modern graffiti and found ourselves at yet another market in front of Karlskirche, a church built between 1715 and 1737 to honour Karl Borromeo, the patron saint of the fight against the plague. The aim of the project was to thank God for ending the plague epidemic which spread through Vienna in 1713 and claimed the loves of more than 8,000 Austrians.

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Fairly exhausted after a busy day exploring we returned to the hotel ready to collapse into sleep and already eager to see what the next day had in store!

Make sure you check back next Thursday for the second installment in my Vienna Thursday Travel Throwback posts!

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