Speaking of vacation, most of the people usually think about nice beach and blue sky, then sit back, relax over a nice glass of cocktail and doing nothing. I like those kind of vacation too in certain extent, yet, having an opportunity to visit the city of music – Vienna, has been one of my dream since many years ago. One might wondering why but there are plenty of good reasons (which you’ll find out from below, especially for those who are enthusiastic about European art and history), or simply put, the main push derived from after watching the movie ‘Woman in gold’ that I started to develop that motivation to get myself there; it starts from the story of the woman with a strong will of reclaiming the masterpiece of art that being looted by the barbarous and notorious Nazis dated back decades ago, and her fighting journey with her passionate and kind-hearted lawyer towards both the US & Austrian government, in turn, it reveals the golden and elegant era of Viennese lifestyle during the early 20th century, the thriving of this metropolis that filled with cultured Viennese elites, how the way they dressed, enjoying their past time either by the sidewalk Café or on the streets, the heyday of the spectacular architecture and magnificent arts that created by the legendary master painters, those are the things that literally and constantly connects with me.
Spending months to plan and put everything together in my itinerary is not an easy thing, but it’s absolutely worthwhile after you see the result with a well-organized planning, research and thoughtfulness, and most importantly, the on-site execution and self-discipline to manage your own itinerary (for independent traveler who goes without joining any tour guide). Right before I took off for this beautiful city, one of my relative asked me: ‘What are you going to see and do there?’, well, months of ‘homework’ of mine can be quite a long answer for this big question, even this is only the first time for me to go to Vienna, but I can simply tell, there’s a lot to see! As a loyal reader of MMD, I am happy to share with you guys some of the highlight that I think it’s worthwhile to go, especially for the first-timer to go to this magnificent city of music.
As in Vienna, the city of music, connecting back with the root of some of the most legendary musicians / composers would be quite essential, why not pay a visit to Mozarthaus (Domgasse 5) or Johann Strauss Wohnung (Praterstraße 54) as a commencement? These 2 amazing museums not only showcased the life story, the environment and some of the furniture that were used by these two legendary musicians, one can also feel the theatrical and spectacular moment dated back then, and listen to some of their famous work of music.
Apart from classical music, Vienna is also a city that filled with imperial grandeur and history (it’s one of the city in the world that possessed the most UNESCO World Heritage), the splendid and glorious period ruled by the Habsburg family - Queen Marie Theresa, Emperor Franz Josef I, and of course, the beautiful Empress Elizabeth (a.k.a. Sisi), they all planted their seed to nurture the art and culture profoundly to Vienna, which the evidence can be found from the magnificent royal palaces, the architecture and the garden that went thru different artistic era (as early as Medieval), not until you see those in person, its magnificent is literally a jaw-dropping experience (especially for those who adore ancient European art and architecture). My first recommendation is undoubtedly the Vienna Hofburg, a spectacular imperial complex formed by series of palaces which built from different eras, you will find all the royal treasures from their prestigious museum – Kaiserappartments, which formerly the royal apartments for the emperor & family, their daily use objet d’Art from the meticulous table setting, the luxurious tableware, china and crystal ware, they are still well-preserved until nowadays for appreciation, then proceed to their former premises to understand more about their daily life and the splendid interior design with luxurious upholstery and furnishings. For those who are interested with the life of Empress Sisi, the Sisi Museum will be one of the place you should go, not only one can understand more about her life story, but also having a view of the beautiful wardrobe and the spectacular portrait that painted by master painters.
One of the place that climbs to the top of my ‘to do’ list, is to visit one of the most spectacular library in the world – the State Hall of the Austrian National Library (Prunksaal der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek), this magnificent library was built by a legendary Baroque architect and sculptor, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, authorized by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI dated back in early 18th century, this enormous library is the home of some valuable original manuscripts written by high-reputed writers, about 200,000 copies of book current kept in there. The most breath-taking experience is looking up to the ceiling and the tall walls along both side of the library hall, appreciates the magnificent Baroque art and architecture details along the way is truly a jaw-dropping experience.
Another recommended place, especially for art lovers, Albertina museum is a must-go, as a former residence of the Habsburg family - Duke of Saxen-Teschen Albert Casimir, and Duchess Maria Christina (a daughter of Queen Maria Theresa, who, is the only daughter that can be married for love), built in the 17th century, and as a passionate art collector, the premises has become a place of keeping the magnificent art collection of the duke, after severe damaged from the war and being refurbished, nowadays the Albertina is the home of some of the world’s most valuable art museum which you may find some of the most renowned master painters such as Dürer, Picasso, Monet and among others’ work there, also, don’t forget to have a tour with the splendid staterooms inside, especially the Hall of Muses, the former dining room for soirées and balls, the grand hall featured the most spectacular crystal chandeliers, and, the sandstone statues of Apollo and the nine Muses by Viennese sculptor, Joseph Klieber.
Let’s wrap-up in here for part I, in the second part, I am going to take you to some where farther, yet, they are also artistic and spectacular as the current part, so stay tune.