A city dense in history, arts and culture, Vienna was once Europe’s capital and rightfully so. Despite its rise and fall over the years, Vienna has retained its sense of history and importance with the city centre conferred the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Austria’s capital and cultural, economic and political centre, Vienna is also home to some of the best museums and galleries in Europe. Consisting of several major districts, Vienna is quite vast but its public transport is both effective and affordable. Consisting of commuter rail, underground trams and buses, it’s very efficient and will more than likely take you within a few minutes’ walk of most major tourist sites. When it comes to being lost in Central or Eastern Europe, locals sometimes find it difficult to give directions in English, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier, English-speaking city than Vienna in Central Europe.
Hofburg Palace’s many exhibits will keep you captivated
Vienna’s significance as the capital city of the Hofburg monarchy allows it to currently flourish as a centre of both artistic and political history. Abundant historical buildings and museums can be found here. Hofburg Palace is one of these buildings and is a must-see on anyone’s itinerary in Vienna. Guided tours are available at a variety of times for the palace - check its website for current updates.
The residence of the Habsburg emperors until 1918, this towering building, which began as a medieval castle, had its size increased as the power of the Habsburg monarchy did as well. The palace now houses the Austrian president, a convention centre and has several museums located within it, including the Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum and the Imperial Silver Collection.
Like a kid in a toy store with never-ending rooms and chocolate, most visitors will not get bored as each room and museum has a different set of jewels and a significant part of history to display. One can buy a ticket to all three of these museums for 28 EUR (approximately 31 USD).
The Belvedere: Home to Austrian, international art
In true European fashion, Vienna is home to one of the most culturally significant museums in the world: The Belvedere. Located in the inner-south of the city, the Belvedere hosts Austrian and international art from the past two centuries. Vienna nurtured renowned artists such as Egon Schiele, Gustav Kempt, and Ludwig Karl Strauch.
It was also the home of the world-renowned Viennese Academy of Fine Arts and was a pivotal part of the expressionism movement Schiele aided. The Belvedere, initially built as a palace, is open from 10.00am to 6.00pm seven days a week. It has two segments, Upper and Lower, with the latter becoming the permanent home of the Austrian Gallery which houses art from Austrian artists. It costs 13.50 EUR (approximately 15 USD) to enter the Upper segment, but selective current exhibits may cost extra to get in.
A sunset meal at the Danube Tower is a must
Close to the Belvedere, in the inner-south again, is the Vienna House of the Arts - another highly recommended museum. Described as if Barcelona’s famous architect Antoni Gaudi had visited Vienna, this House of the Arts is a museum that anyone, and not just a lover of modern art, can appreciate.
The facade of the building is colourful, vibrant and entices one to enter, but pay closer attention and the Gaudi-esque intricacy in the details comes to the fore. The windows also stand out amongst the colourful exterior. And it only costs 6 EUR (approximately 7 USD) to enter!
To round off one’s time in the inner-south of Vienna, Danube Tower (or Donauturm) should be on the list for a sunset meal. With gorgeous parks surrounding the tower, the Danube Tower is an observation tower from which one has a spectacular view of Vienna. The tower also houses two rotating restaurants which make splendid meals - highly recommended for a sunset meal, but reserve a table in advance!
Discover the unique qualities of Vienna
For lovers of art, history and culture, Vienna is the perfect city which amalgamates all three. If you want to get a taste of museums, indulge yourself for hours over a certain part of a gallery, or immerse yourself into the rich history of this Austrian city, Vienna is your answer. It may not have the exciting night-life of Berlin or Amsterdam or the laid-back attitude of Barcelona, but Vienna makes up for it all with its unique historical and cultural significance in a continent rich with it.
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