Things to Do in Austria - page 4
Hoher Markt is Vienna’s oldest town square, dating way back to Roman times; soon after World War II, sections of the Roman military camp of Vindobona were found below the cobbles and artifacts from these remains are now displayed in the Museum of Rome at No. 3. In the middle of the square stands the marble Baroque Vermählungsbrunnen (Wedding Fountain), designed by Baroque master-craftsman Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach in 1706 to commemorate the marriage of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa to Franz Stephan of Lorraine; it sits under an ornate bronze baldacchino.
Vienna’s oldest church was made from stone taken from the ancient Roman settlement of Vindabona and was originally Romanesque in design, with its origins reaching as far back as 740 AD. It has a dumpy and largely unprepossessing exterior that dates from the 12th century, although it has been destroyed by fire and repeatedly enlarged down the centuries. It is dedicated to St Rupert, who is (confusingly) the patron saint of Salzburg and also connected with salt mining, which was big business around Salzburg in the Middle Ages. The simple interior is whitewashed with a simple stone altar, quite unadorned with the exceptions of the vast brass Baroque crucifix and the exquisite stained-glass windows dating from the 1990s, when the church was restored. However, one window has survived from the 13th century and it is found in the vaulted apse, depicting Christ on the cross with the Madonna and Child standing below.
Salzburg’s superb museum of modern Austrian art comes as a contemporary change after the city’s relentless Baroque charm. It has two branches: the MDM Rupertinum and the MDM Mönchsberg. The latter perches above the city on the rocky crag of Mönchsberg, one of five steep hills that form part of the city’s skyline; it was designed by Munich architects Friedrich Hoff Zwink following a competition launched in 1998 and has a series of light-filled, airy galleries tucked behind its ultra-modern white-marble façade. The four-floor museum opened in 2004 and holds exhibitions of contemporary painting, installations and temporary exhibitions from contemporary Austrian artists as well as open-air displays on the surrounding terraces. The neo-Gothic 19th-century Amalie Redlich Water Tower that stands next to MDM Mönchsberg has been incorporated into the gallery and hosts workshops and other events.
An outpost of Vienna’s fabulous Kunsthistorisches Museum, Neue Burg forms a semi-circular wing of the Hofburg Palace complex, which was commissioned for the Habsburg Imperial Family in 1881. True to the Habsburg motto that bigger is better, the palace is of spectacular Baroque design inside and out; it originally contained the personal memorabilia of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 sparked off World War. Today the Neue Burg holds three important Imperial collections, including the Imperial Collection of Arms and Armor (Hofjägd und Rüstkammer), which moved into its palatial new home in 1935 and whisks through centuries of battle armor worn by both man and beast, displayed to stunning effect in long, marble-floored corridors. The Habsburg musical instruments (Sammlung Alter Musik Instrumente) arrived at Neue Burg post-war in 1945; highlights include archaic wind instruments, mandolines and priceless violins.
Vienna’s Augarten is a public park in Leopoldstadt, home to a former Imperial palace of the same name and several other buildings of note. The grounds themselves cover 52.2 hectares and are Baroque in design, remodeled from previous gardens in the early 18th century for the ever-acquisitive Habsburg Emperor Joseph II. The court architect Isidore Canevale was responsible for planting hundreds of trees that now provide the shady pathways as well as the layout out the formal flowerbeds. Facilities for visiting families in the gardens today include paddling pools, sports fields and a couple of restaurants, including Décor, rather fabulously sited in a former Nazi anti-aircraft bunker.
Other attractions in Augarten include the spectacular Baroque palace, now the winter home of the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir; a contemporary art gallery that is an outpost of the Belvedere; a film archive; and a Jewish study center.
Building started in 1956 on Salzburg’s Large Festival Hall, which was designed by Austrian architect and stage designer Clemens Holzmeister specifically to host the annual Salzburg Festival. The grand green-and white theater is neo-baroque in style and the main auditorium can seat an audience of 2,170; it opened to great fanfare in 1960 with a performance of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Herbert von Karajan and is renowned for its acoustics; the circular stage has a width of 100 meters (328 feet) and is one of the largest in the world. The interior decor is a monument to 1960s design, with marble statues by sculptor Wander Bertoni, as well as installations by Anton von Webern and notorious Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka.
As well as hosting the Salzburg Festival, the venue has a full repertoire of year-round performances and also holds concerts during the city’s Easter and Whitsun Festivals as well as carol services at Christmas.
From 1891 to 1938 Sigmund Freud, considered the founding father of psychoanalysis, resided in Vienna at Berggasse 19 before fleeing to Britain when the Nazi’s annexed Austria. Today, his former residence houses the Sigmund Freud Museum and its collection of original furniture, antiques from Freud’s collection and several autographed first editions of his works.
Freud’s youngest daughter, Anna, helped transform the house into a museum in 1971, and she also helped compile a series of historic films of Freud and his family during the 1930s. The museum has steadily expanded since its opening and now includes a library, museum shop and exhibition hall. In addition to the Freud-centric permanent collection, the museum also hosts special exhibitions and a rotating contemporary art collection, displayed in a former butcher shop storefront in the same building as Freud’s living quarters.
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The Academy of Fine Arts, or Akademie der Bildende Kunst, may not be one of Vienna's best known galleries, but the collection of paintings is nonetheless impressive and worth a visit. It concentrates on Flemish, Dutch and German painters including the disturbing Hieronymus Bosch, Rembrandt, van Dyck and Rubens. The highlight is Bosch's altarpiece Triptych of the Last Judgment from 1504 to 1508.
The Academy of Fine Arts still functions as an art school, so don't be surprised if you smell fresh paint. It has the distinction of being the school that rejected Adolf Hitler twice.
The Austrian Theater Museum is found in the delightfully Baroque Lobkowitz Palace, steps away from the Schloss Schönbrunn, and is part of the Kunsthistorischen museums complex. Dating from the late 1690s, the Lobkowitz was one of the first urban palaces built in Vienna after the Imperial Family made the city its main home. It was here that Beethoven premiered his ‘Third Symphony’ and here that many glittering society balls were held over the years.
During its Imperial years, Vienna was packed with theaters, many of which – such as the Burgtheater and the Volkstheater – are still going strong. Being avid collectors of just about anything, the Habsburg emperors began to hoard theater artifacts back in the 18th century. Today these are artfully brought together among the gilt, stucco and delicate ceiling frescoes of the Lobkowitz Palace.
Kunst Haus Wien in Vienna is home to the only permanent collection of the work of Friedensreich Hundertwasser in the world. The building itself, a former furniture factory, was designed by the eccentric artist, along with the neighboring apartment building. The wild facade, with its irregular glass, brick, wood, ceramic and metal features, bright colors and trees sprouting from the windows, reflect the spirit of the art displayed within.
Two floors of the modern art museum are dedicated to the works of Hundertwasser, while two more feature changing exhibitions. The ground floor houses a cafe and a museum shop, while the museum also offers audio guides.
Founded in 1752 as a menagerie by Franz Stephan, Tiergarten Schönbrunn, or Vienna Zoo, is the oldest zoo in the world. It houses some 750 animals of all shapes and sizes; the most recent arrivals to excite crowds were giant pandas in 2003 although lemurs, armadillos and baby Serbian tigers spurred plenty of interest in 2006. Thankfully most of the original cramped cages have been updated and improved, but the odd one still remains.
The zoo's layout is reminiscent of a bicycle wheel, with pathways as spokes and an octagonal pavilion at its center. The pavilion dates from 1759 and was used as the imperial breakfast room; it now houses a fine restaurant (so you can feel regal, too). Feeding times are staggered throughout the day - maps on display tell you who's dining when.
Located in the gloriously ornate Neue Residenz in Mozartplatz, the Salzburg Museum opened in 2007 to great acclaim and won European Museum of the Year two years later. It serves as an informative and educational museum of art and history, scanning aspects of the development of Salzburg as a city.
A museum of several parts housed in fine marble apartments, it features temporary art exhibitions, highlights the lives of prominent Salzburg movers and shakers, and examines the history of the city through a series of artwork in the permanent exhibition ‘The Myth of Salzburg’. A one-man exhibition on the third floor spotlights the mesmeric paintings of famous contemporary Austrian artist Gottfried Salzmann. The Salzburg Museum is partnered to the adjacent Panorama Museum and they are connected by the subterranean Panorama Passage, which reveals a section of Roman wall covered with murals and four models of Salzburg at pertinent points in its development.
On the outskirts of Innsbruck, the slopes at Bergisel have been the home of Tyrolean ski jumping competitions since 1927. To celebrate this, British Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid designed a towering ski jump stadium, which was completed in 2002 and can seat 28,000 people. In 2008 Pope John Paul II gave Mass here and it has quickly became a year-round Innsbruck attraction as it soars 820 feet (250 meters) above the city and offers superb views over the Inn Valley and surrounding Alps.
The Tyrol Panorama, featuring a massive, century-old painting of the heroic Tyrolean revolt against Napoleon, is found at the foot of the sculptural stadium. From here, the top of the tower rises to 165 feet (50 meters) and is reached by funicular – or 455 steep steps – plus elevator. Here you’ll be rewarded with 360° views over the city and coffee and cakes in the Panorama Restaurant.
Salzburg’s Old Market Square (or Alter Markt) dates way back to 1280. The medieval buildings have long since gone, replaced by grand Baroque townhouses that line the square.
Take a seat at an outdoor cafe, or pick up some handmade chocolate Mozartkugeln balls at Fürst chocolatiers. You’ll want to take a photo of one of the buildings lining the square at number 10a; you might miss it as it’s the smallest house in Salzburg.
The Remise is a museum about the history of public transport in Vienna, Austria. It is situated on the site of a former tram depot (“remise” means “depot” in German), which was built in 1901 in Vienna’s Erdberg district, and was still an operational tram station until 1990. It documents 150 years of public transport in Vienna via 14 different themed exhibits, highlighting everything between horse-drawn trams to the more modern underground network. It opened on September 13, 2004. The museum helps visitors understand the role of public transport in the development of the city and the everyday lives of people, and provides a behind-the-scenes look inside the operations of public transport; for example, visitors can experience the routes of the five subway lines as the driver sees them thanks to a multimedia subway simulator.
Salzburg’s acclaimed Marionette Theatre was founded back in 1913 and its debut performance Bastien and Bastienne – the comic opera by Mozart – proved an instant hit with audiences. As its fan base expanded, so the theatre’s repertoire increased, taking in operas by Rossini and Strauss, Shakespearian plays and also developing shows especially adapted for children, including Alice in Wonderland and Peter the Wolf; The Sound of Music was also added to theater’s body of work in 2007.
The theater was awarded its own base in 1971, an ornate Baroque theater with a seating capacity of 350 that is tucked between the Mozarteum and the Landestheater. An extraordinary level of detail goes into the crafting of the puppets – each head is hand-carved in wood – and costumes and stage sets are individually designed for each show, while the characters are sung by some of the world’s greatest opera stars.
Housed in two buildings connected by a modern ticket office, the Imperial Furniture Collection forms part of the Kunsthistorischen museums based at the Schloss Schönbrunn. Both museum buildings are notable in their own right; the furniture repository at Mariahilferstrasse 88 was commissioned in 1901 by Emperor Franz Joseph II to store the overspill from the Imperial Family’s vast stockpile of priceless antique furniture. The other half of the museum is found in a simple, Bidermeier-style townhouse dating from the early 19th century.
Able to draw on over 165,000 pieces – the largest collection of furniture in the world – the museum stages changing exhibitions of Empire and Bidermeier furniture interspersed with oddly intimate artifacts such as wheelchairs, displayed in elegant panelled rooms. Among the masterpieces of three centuries of rabid accumulation is the fabulous Egyptian Cabinet, designed for Empress Maria Ludovica in 1812.
Things to do near Austria
- Things to do in Vienna
- Things to do in Salzburg
- Things to do in Innsbruck
- Things to do in Schwechat
- Things to do in Linz
- Things to do in Graz
- Things to do in Hallstatt
- Things to do in Klagenfurt
- Things to do in Slovenia
- Things to do in Czech Republic
- Things to do in Austrian Alps
- Things to do in Upper Austria
- Things to do in Lower Austria
- Things to do in Passau
- Things to do in Friuli-Venezia Giulia