Things to Do in Austria - page 5
The number-one destination of beer lovers, Austria’s most popular brewing exhibition is found Salzburg’s oldest brewery, which was built in 1863, although Stiegl has actually been brewing ever since 1492 and the company remains independent to this day. In medieval times the production of beer was as vital to the growth of Salzburg’ wealth as the mining of salt in the region; a visit to the Stiegl Brauwelt encompasses a whistle-stop tour of the brewing process and the bottling plant as well as highlighting the social impact of brewing on the city. Although guided tours are currently only available in German, all the exhibits in the museum are clearly labeled in other languages, including English, so it is easy to understand the displays.
Tastings following the brewery tour give the chance to sample three of the ales produced here, and soft options are offered for non-drinkers. Time your visit correctly and stay on in the restaurant for lunch or supper.
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.
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.
The pastel-hued façade of Vienna’s Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) may pale in comparison to the dramatic neo-gothic towers of the modern City Hall, but the former administrative center is still a charming reminder of medieval Vienna. Although first built in the 13th century, the majority of the present-day building stems from its 18th-century baroque redesign, featuring details like the striking Renaissance portico and the monumental Andromeda Fountain by Georg Raphael Donners.
The Old Town Hall housed the magistrate of Vienna until 1885, but today is home to the Museum of the Austrian Resistance Movement, a museum devoted to the Austrian resistance against the Nazis. One of the city’s most intriguing museums, the fascinating exhibitions include photographs, original documents and personal reports, detailing the work of Austrian resistance fighters and the victims of the Nazi regime.
The Vienna Museum of Technology is a place to play with science. The museum prides itself on being a showplace for technological developments past, present, and future. By regional, and even international, standards the museum boasts unique collections. The collections include exhibits from the fields of transportation, energy, heavy industry, everyday life, mobility, media worlds, and musical instruments. In addition to the collections, interactive demonstrations and live laboratories enriched with graphics, experiments, films and texts provide educational entertainment for adults, kids, families, and groups. The museum’s unique multimedia presentations show the influence of Austria’s technological achievements on its modern society, economy, and culture.
The composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) spent the last decade or so of his life in Gumpendorf, just outside of Vienna, composing the majority of his late work – including ‘The Seasons’. Upon the 200th anniversary of his death, his house was restored and is now a museum. The Haydnhaus museum focuses on the last years of the composer’s life, and the permanent exhibitions represent the political and social atmosphere of Austria in the early 19th century when Haydn lived there. The main focus of the exhibit revolves around Haydn’s music, his life, and the end of his years. He was an internationally renowned composer who was celebrated by his colleagues – indeed, he was the most famous composer in all of Europe when he died. Part of the exhibit includes the records and memoirs of the international visitors who came to pay Haydn their respects in his final years.
More Things to Do in Austria
The Salzburg Museum incorporates seven branches, including the Toy Museum (Spielzeug Museum) and Museum of Natural History (Haus der Natur), but its main branch is at the Neue Residenz and is connected by subterranean tunnel to the adjacent Panorama Museum. The underground passage itself features a section of Roman wall covered with murals and models of the city at important points in its development but the main attraction of the Panorama Museum is the cyclorama of the city. Painted in 1829 by Johann Michael Sattler, the masterpiece painting-in-the-round is supremely impressive for its fine architectural and topographical detail and is 26 meters (85 feet) in diameter. Visitors stand on a central platform, from here telescopes and computer screens highlight various areas of the city, providing detailed descriptions of 19th-century Salzburg.
Situated on Vienna’s lovely (and triangular) Freyung Square, the present incarnation of the Bank Austria Kunstforum dates from 1988 and was designed with a bizarre Art Deco entrance portal by architect Gustav Peichl. In recent years it has become a major player on the Vienna art scene, as Bank Austria now holds one of the best private collections in Europe, specialising in avant-garde post-WWII work. With an excess of 10,000 pieces of stellar art to call on, the bank sponsors innovative and well-received exhibitions, with recent successes including premier-league shows from big guns Georges Braque, Picasso, Kandinsky, Karel Appel and Magritte. Such has been the success of the venue that it has been extended several times to accommodate more visitors to the exhibitions. The Kunstforum also exhibits the Bank Austria photography archive, with around 400 images from great names such as Diane Arbus, Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Salzburg’s modern art museum consists of two parts; the MDM Rupertinum is housed in an elegant medieval palace in the Altstadt (Old Town) while the MDM Mönchsberg sits on a rocky crag above the city. Together the MdM Salzburg buildings offer over 3,000 meters of exhibition space for 20th- and 21st-century Austrian art and began life in 1983, when local art collector Friedrich Welz donated his entire collection of works by Oskar Kokoschka to the city. Displays include temporary exhibits along with paintings drawn from the museums’ core collection, including Austrian favorites Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, a scattering of French Impressionists and an 18,000-strong collection of contemporary Austrian photography.
Serving a triple role, the Third Man Museum shines a light on post-war Vienna at the start of the Cold War, looks at movie making in the 1940s and 50s, and features artifacts from the famous movie of the same name. The Third Man was a British film shot in Vienna and released in 1949, featuring the spy Harry Lime; it was a worldwide smash hit and made the careers of both Orson Welles – who played the lead part – and the composer of the famous theme tune, Anton Karas. The privately owned museum is the brainwave of Karin and Gerhard Strassgschwandtner, who have collected more than 2,500 relics of the film, including posters, screenplays, cameras used on set, the original zither that Karas played for the film, and stark black-and-white images depicting life in divided Austria during the Cold War. They often lead tours around the museum themselves, and regular zither concerts are held there as well.
The revered German-language poet Georg Trakl was born in Salzburg in 1887 and spent much of his short life building up a body of literary work that has remained with us long after he died in a military hospital in Krakow at the tender age of 27. He spent his formative years in the city and much of his work shines light on the Salzburg of the early 20th century, although he flitted restlessly around Austria, traveling frequently to Vienna and Innsbruck. Heavily influenced by the works and lifestyles of French symbolist poets like Baudelaire and Rimbaud, Trakl was soon heavily involved with drugs and also suffered from depression; it is suspected he may have committed suicide but this is not known for sure.
Nevertheless his poetry attracted much praise attention and his reputation lives on. Many years after his death in 1914, his birthplace on Salzburg’s Waagplatz was converted to a museum in his memory in 1973.
Salzburg is the city of Mozart and music festivals and is also home to several Baroque orchestras. Most prestigious is the Mozarteum Orchestra, which was founded in 1841 with the help of Mozart’s widow and their sons; today it is one of Austria's leading symphony orchestras under the leadership of English conductor Ivor Bolton. It plays a leading role in the annual Salzburg Festival and has a permanent home at the Mozarteum, a complex of two concert halls built between 1910 and 1914. The grand and glittering neo-classical Great Hall (Grosser Saal) has seating for 800 and is regarded as Salzburg’s most beautiful concert venue, while the Viennese Hall is a smaller auditorium perfectly proportioned for chamber-music concerts, with an audience capacity of 200.
Salzburg’s cathedral (Dom) is on the south side of the River Salzach and has Romanesque foundations, although today its appearance is exuberantly Baroque as it was rebuilt after a fire in 1598. Mozart was baptized here in 1756 and held the post of court organist from 1779, writing much of his early music to be performed in the cathedral.
The museum is found on the upper floors of the cathedral, vaulted and stuccoed galleries with patterned marble floors all lavishly decorated with stags’ heads and exquisite furniture. It is dedicated to telling the story of the cathedral’s 1,300-year history and exhibiting religious art from the 15th to 18th centuries. Treasures in the collection include cabinets of curiosities squirreled away over centuries by Salzburg’s former ruling archbishop princes, glittering gold icons and relics, the priceless 8th-century Cross of St Rupert and a gold-and-purple enamel peace dove made in the early 13th century in Limoges.
Housed in the elegant Renaissance Bürgerspital, which was once a hospital, the Toy Museum was founded in 1978 and surrounds one of the most beautiful cloistered courtyards in Salzburg. It is an offshoot of the Salzburg Museum, which incorporates seven branches, including the Museum of Natural History (Haus der Natur) and the Monatsschlössl ethnology museum at Schloss Hellbrunn as well as its main branch at the Neue Residenz. Exhibits include antique dolls’ houses and puppet theaters among its collection of historic toys, but the museum is largely given over to interactive displays for children. It is a joy to visit for families with young kids as there are many games to play and puzzles to solve as well as Teddy bears to cuddle, dolls to dress up and a maze to get lost in. Model trains and racetracks are found on the second floor along with lots of costumes to dress up in and possibly the world’s biggest collection of Barbie dolls.
Donaupark, or Danube Park, is huge - 2,600,000 square feet (800,000 square metres). Located on the north bank of the impressive Danube River, it even has beaches for the summer months. There is a stage with live entertainment, a mini train to ride, a giant chess board, tennis courts, a skater park, bike paths and a small zoo!
Until 1945 it was a military firing range, then it was used for landfill. Finally it became a park, originally for the Vienna International Flower Show of 1964. At this time, Vienna's tallest structure, the Danube Tower, was also built in the park. It's 826 ft (252 m) high and has a revolving restaurant and viewing platforms. In 1983, Pope John Paul II celebrated a mass at the base of the tower. And of course, people bungee jump from the tower.
In the Museumquarter, between the Leopold and MUMOK is the Kunsthalle, or Art Hall, a collection of exhibition halls showcasing local and international contemporary art. Its high ceilings, open space and pure functionality have seen the venue rated among the top institutions for exhibitions in Europe. Programs, which run for 3 to 6 months, tend to focus on photography, video, film, installations and new media.
The concept behind the gallery is to foster new and exciting trends and experiments in contemporary art so expect the unexpected.
Located in the middle of the Arsenal and designed by Ludwig Foerster and Theophil Hansen in the 1850s, the Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) is the oldest museum in Vienna and one of the most important military history museums in the world. The museum’s five sections take visitors through the history of the Habsburg empire and Austria, beginning in the late 16th century and continuing through the dissolution of the Austrian monarchy in 1945.
Much of the gallery space features pre-Turkish conquest weaponry, but various medals, military uniforms, flags and artwork depicting battles are also on display. A “tank garden” behind the museum exhibits several armored battle vehicles from Austria and around the world. Rotating special exhibitions focus on more recent international conflicts.
Located in two buildings on Museumsplatz near the River Salzach, Salzburg’s natural history museum was founded in 1924. It is an offshoot of the Salzburg Museum, which incorporates seven branches including the Toy Museum (Spielzeug Museum) and the Monatsschlössl ethnology museum at Schloss Hellbrunn as well as its main branch at the Neue Residenz. Along with a series of exhibitions focusing on dinosaurs, geology, the natural world and space travel, there’s an aquarium and reptile zoo featuring alligators and poisonous lizards.
The separate and largely interactive science center is wonderfully child friendly and displays across its three floors of hands-on exhibits examine energy, the human body and noise – this being Salzburg, the Audio Lab features the music of Mozart; it also has a science lab where junior experiments can be safely conducted under supervision.
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