Guten Tag Sweet Friend!
Yesterday morning, I woke up to gloomy skies in Vienna; but as the day passed, the fog lifted, the clouds parted and it was somewhat sunny all day. By evening, the clouds were gone and the stars were shining! It was a glorius day to spend wandering the palaces of Schonbrunn and Belvedere.
I thougth St. Peter’s church was a mouth-dropping display of Baroque architechture, but that was just tinker toys compared to the over-the-top gilded rooms of the palaces. These people were definately going for Baroque!! (I’ll have to explain the pun to my German friends, but my ‘merican peeps will get it!)
I started my day at Schonbrunn, just a quick subway ride outside the city. Again, Vienna is set up for the tourist, so it’s very easy to navigate. While the Hofburg Palace was the official residence of the Habsburg family in Austria, the Schonbrunn Palace was their summer residence It lies outside the city center and is a huge complex of apartments, galleries, staterooms, dining halls and gardens. To have only lived there parttime, they sure put a lot of money, time and effort into it; but I guess when you have that kind of money, you can do that.
For the “imperial” tour, you are allowed to see 40 rooms in the palace and then wander the extensive grounds as long as you like. The audio guide that comes with the tour is well done and very informative about the daily life of the royals. Empress Maria Theresa played a huge part in the design of the palace and grounds and made many improvements and additions during her lifetime. She and her husband spent a lot of time here with their 16 children (well, a few of them died early on) so much of the palace is a reflection of her style – which was definately over-the-top. Each room, each ceiling, each fresco, each marble floor, each fountain, simply took my breath away. Every time I thought, WOW, this is amazing, I would go into the next room and it would be even better. Most of the rooms were not used except for special occasions; the apartments were where the royals lived on a day-to-day basis.
The palace grounds were huge and beautiful!! On the grounds, there is a full-on zoo, a huge playground, a maze, massive and ornate fountains and ponds, plus beautiful displays of flowers and trees. Tjhere is also a swimming pool, stables and riding complex. This is to give you an idea of how large it is. You can walk or you can take a small tourist train around the grounds or you can purchase a horse-drawn carriage ride. I decided to walk so I could take pictures.
The fountains were so wonderful! One fountain was designed to look like Roman ruins, and indeed it did. It looked as if it stood next to the Colossium in Rome. Another was called the Egyptian fountain, complete with an obelisk, Egyptian gods, snakes and hieroglyphics (although I learned that the heiroglyphics don’t make any sense since hieroglyphics were not “de-coded” until 1822 and this was designed in the 1700’s). The Neptune fountain was a glorius display devoted to the god of the sea and of course the Gloriette at the very rear of the complex was Maria Theresa’s tribute to the “Just War.” All these fountains and structures were designed as “picturesque horticuluture elements,” or royal yard art as I call it. It was insane. So much fun to walk around and see everything and imagine living in a place like that. OMG!
After Schonbrunn, I grabbed a quick salad for lunch and headed to the Belvedere Palace. Once the home of Prince Eugene, an Austrian war lord, it is now an art museum and houses some of Austria’s finest art works. The “upper” Belvedere or the big house, contains a history of Austrian art from the middle ages to the 19th century. One of the highlights is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt as well as some of his other celebrated works. The “lower” Belvedere or little house features modern art and temporary exhitbits.
Klimt is one of my favorite artists, and The Kiss is one of my all time fav paintings. I love the colors, the gold leaf, the exotic and sensual feeling. If I could be a painting, I would want to be this one. I so enjoyed seeing it on display. And unlike the Mona Lisa, it does not disappoint. It is large and breath taking.
But, it was the palace itself, the rooms, the frescos, the ceilings and the architechture that really took my breath away. I thought the Schonbrunn was impressive, but the Belvedere was even better! Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside either palace, so I can’t post any pix; but they would not do the palaces justice anyway. They were just too beautiful.
After the Belvedere, I returned to the hotel and contemplated dinner. I decided to try a vegan restaurant called Yamm. It is near the city hall near the international film festival and that was to be my final destination. Yamm was yummy!! A hip, cool, trendy place with an extensive vegan salad bar, vegan desserts and even vegan cocktails and wine!! Score!!!
After dinner, I went to the film festival and grabbed a seat for the evening’s viewing of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Thankfully, I had read a synopsis of the opera and had watched an English version on You Tube before coming here; otherwise I would have been lost! The performance was filmed at an outdoor film festival in Austria several years ago. The entire set was in the water and made extensive use of floats, boats and bridges. Hard to explain but it was brilliant. The vocals were amazing and watching it under a clear Austrian sky with the stars shining above was the best part!!
It was another amazing day in Vienna and I have come to love the city even more. Today is a clear, beautiful day and I’m going to walk around the city and tour several churches and the Jewish museum. I also want to go to the Prater tonight and ride the giant ferris wheel.
I hope you have a beautiful day and whatever you’re doing today, go for baroque!