Getting around Vienna’s Innere Stadt (Inner City) is the best way to perceive cultural, architectural and historical developments of the city that influenced Europe in numerous ways. The legacy of the former capital of several empires, which had authority over great parts of Europe, and the birthplace of waltz is mostly preserved in its original form and can be found within and around the Innere Stadt.
The origins of this old town began from the early centuries of the last millennium, stretching all the way to the 19th century; its well-preserved status reveals the result of a long period of Vienna’s stability and prosperity. For a visual feast on magnificent historical architecture, read on for the top five attractions in the Innere Stadt!
St. Stephen Cathedral featuring unique blends of architectural style!
Famous Viennese St. Stephen Cathedral, or the Stephansdom, is a Gothic masterpiece, combining elements of the initial Romanesque church (main entrance to the cathedral) and Renaissance (the unfinished Gothic north tower). Its southern tower, Steffl, with spires and highly elaborated details, dominates the skyline. The interior features the Gothic simplicity and Baroque works of art.
Relive the triumph of overcoming plague in a shopping street!
The shopping street of Graben features a monument dedicated to a dramatic period of Vienna’s history – the outbreak of plague in 1679. This Baroque monument symbolizes triumph of the Faith over the plague, which is illustrated by an old woman, and was erected as a fulfilment of the King Leopold I’s oath (a kneeling man) to devote a monument as a token of gratitude once the plague was defeated.
St. Peter’s Church: Do not judge a book by its cover!
Nearby, Peterskirche (St. Peter’s Church) features a somewhat unusual concave facade, whose rather plain exterior widely differs from its rich interior. Dominating features of the exterior are the dome and two flanking towers, which illustrate Turkish tents from the unsuccessful siege of 1683. From the inside, the Baroque church appears larger than it really is. It boasts eye-catching decoration and top-notch acoustics.
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Don’t miss the dominant features of Hofburg Palace!
The imposing Hofburg Palace is another iconic Vienna’s structure, an embodiment of the imperial history of the city. Overtaken by the first Hapsburg ruler, Rudolf I, from Ottokar II of Bohemia as a fortress in 1276, the Hofburg witnessed numerous extensions in various styles until the 20th century.
The semicircular Neue Burg (from the Heldenplatz) and Michaelertrakt (Michaelerplatz) structures, the latter crowned by the turquoise dome, with various architectural details and allegorical sculptures, are the most dominating features of the Imperial residence. There are also diverse museums, illustrating everyday life of the residents and showcasing their various personal items and symbols of power. From the Neue Burg’s balcony, Hitler proclaimed the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938.
Salute to two outstanding military personalities at the front of Neue Burg!
In addition, you can find other surprises such as the Michaelerkirche (St. Michael’s church) featuring different architectural styles, the Winter Riding School (within the Hofburg complex), a greenhouse with butterflies, and monuments to Goethe, Mozart and Franz Joseph I.
The Heldenplatz, a former parade ground flanking the Neue Burg, is dominated by two equestrian statues, representing two outstanding military personalities. The one closer to the Neue Burg illustrates Eugene de Savoy, the “Scourge of the Turks“, while the other honours Archduke Charles, the military reformer and one of a very few commanders who managed to defeat Napoleon Bonaparte (Asperin, 1809).
Vienna is filled With history
The above-mentioned attractions are concentrated in the pedestrian zone of the Innere Stadt, within close proximity from one another. Half a day should be more than enough to visit them properly, even with a pause for shopping. If you are planning to visit the museums within the Hofburg, try to allocate a full day for sufficient time to appreciate the aged beauty and history of this old town.
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