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.
Just to the south east of the city centre you’ll find yourself in a magical place called The Belvedere…
The two Belvedere Palaces (Upper and Lower) were commissioned in the 1680s by Prince Eugen of Savoy, a celebrated Habsburg General. Built with the money he received for his victories in the Spanish Succession, the project was one of the most ambitious ever taken on by a private individual.
^ ‘Napoleon Crossing the Alps’ is one of five identical oil on canvas paintings of Napoleon Bonaparte painted by French artist Jacques-Louis David between 1801 and 1805 – and one of my favourite paintings of all time.
Originally commissioned by the French Ambassador to Spain as part of a group of gifts meant to cement the alliance between Napoleon of France and Charles IV of Spain, Napoleon ordered the artist to create three exact copies when he heard of the request. One was meant to be hung in the Chateau de Saint-Cloud one at Les Invalides and one at the palace of the Cisalpine Republic in Milan. The fifth copy was produced by the artist and remained in his possession until his death.
The version that is now in The Belvedere was the one destined for Milan, which did a fair bit of travelling before ending up in Vienna.
The Lower Belvedere used to be a museum but is now used for temporary exhibitions and has a small number of richly decorated staterooms to explore.
From the Belvedere we wandered through the city towards Secession Building.
The Secession Building was designed as the manifesto of the Secessionist movement in 1897 and today is a treasured example of a particularly Viennese artistic period.
Compared to the other beautiful and intricate buildings in Vienna it felt a bit stark to me but I can certainly respect and understand its appeal as a monument to a lost era.
In the heart of the city we found Stephansdom – Vienna’s most beloved landmark and Austria’s finest Gothic edifice.
The foundations of the cathedral date back to 1127 and many different Habsburg rulers left their imprint on the structure with various changes, additions and upgrades over the centuries.
During WWII the cathedral was severely damaged by bombs but the process of rebuilding it during the war’s aftermath was symbolic and represented the people of Austria’s hope as the country emerged from the ashes of conflict.
After Stephansdom we found our way into a nondescript church which, once inside, proved to be utterly spectacular. They really know how to decorate their churches in Austria!
There was an impromptu concert happening and so we sat and listened to beautiful music in beautiful surroundings.
We eventually had to leave and seek out dinner as we had plans for the evening ahead.
There are tons of different musical shows and offerings in Vienna and our hotel recommended one which incorporated all of the great things about artistic culture in the city – ballet, opera, an orchestra and great music by classic composers.
It may not have been as grand as the Vienna State Opera House but the music was amazing, the performers spectacular and the evening a complete delight. The perfect end to a busy day!