As the capital of an empire, Vienna was one of the cultural centers of Europe for centuries. The imperial court attracted artists, musicians and architects, and Vienna experienced an unprecedented growth. No wonder it’s now among the most popular touristic destinations in Europe.
Lying on the crossroads of key European trade routes, Vienna developed quickly during the medieval period. Soon it was claimed by the Habsburg family and the city became the center of the Holy Roman Empire. After the Napoleonic wars, Vienna became the capital of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire. In the 19th century, the city turned into a globally recognized center of culture and science. Now, Vienna capitalizes on its rich history, attracting millions of tourists every year.
Historical landmarks of Vienna
The Dukes of Austria – and later the Habsburg family – required a proper seat of government. Located in the center of Vienna, the Hofburg palace complex housed the Austrian rulers since the 13th century. Even today, it’s the official residence and workplace of the president of Austria. Now it also hosts many museums and institutions presenting the vivid history of the imperial court. Tourists can visit the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum, see the crown jewels in the Imperial Treasury or the morning performance at the prestigious Spanish Riding School.
One of the most recognizable buildings in Vienna is the Stephansdom, a gothic cathedral located in the heart of the Viennese old town. The most important religious building in Vienna, stands out with its colorful roof tiles. The cathedral’s south tower is Vienna’s cityscape and the highest building in the city.
In the Viennese suburbs, a few kilometers from the city center, lies the monumental Schönbrunn Palace – the imperial summer residence, surrounded by vast gardens. It’s an undisputable symbol of the city and its most popular touristic landmark. The palace in its current form was built during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, and Emperor Franz Josef spent most of his life there.
During the late 19th century, young architects rebelled against the restrictions of older styles. The result was the creation of Vienna Secession architectural movement, with Otto Wagner at the helm. The Majolikahaus, with façade covered in floral designs and the Secession building with Klimt’s murals inside became symbols of the style and important architectural landmarks on Vienna’s map. Another location worth visiting is the Hundertwasserhaus, with its brave shapes and colorful façade. Although the construction began in the 1980’s, it’s already one of Vienna’s most photographed buildings.
Vienna is known as one of key cultural centers of Europe, and for good reason. Most of the art museums are located in a small area southwest of the Old Town, called the Museumsquartier. The art collection gathered by the Habsburg family is housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Among the most prominent works featured there, are paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Rubens, Velázquez and Klimt. The Kunsthistorisches Museum also houses an impressive collection of Greek and Egyptian antiquities.
The Belvedere Museum, on the other hand, focuses on exhibitions featuring local, Austrian artists. The collection’s highlight is Gustav Klimt’s most famous work, The Kiss. You can see further works of the Wiener Secession artists in the Leopold Museum, with paintings and drawings by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Just a few steps away, lies the Mumok (Museum of Modern Art), with an impressive collection including works from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
Vienna: the city of music
Vienna is often called the capital or the birthplace of classical music. Composers and musicians who wished to perform for the imperial court flocked to the city. The Viennese musical scene was created by currently iconic composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn and the Strauss family. Even now, fans of classical music and opera can explore an unmatched offer of concerts and shows in Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera.
Parks and nature
If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’re in luck! Vienna offers many marvelous parks, perfectly maintained gardens and plenty of strolling opportunities. Even within the Innere Stadt, you’ll find the Volksgarten, famous for its beautiful rose garden and the Burggarten with the neighboring Palm House and Butterfly House. For vacation photo ops, go east, to the Stadtpark. With its iconic, gilded memorial of Johann Strauss, Stadtpark is the park with the most monuments and sculptures in Vienna.
Behind the Schönbrunn Palace you will find a monumental garden complex, with its own palm house, rose garden and even artificial roman ruins, built in the 18th century. On the grounds of the Schönbrunn gardens you will also find Vienna’s zoo, the oldest still operating zoo in the world.
For a more “relaxed” feel, go to the Prater – right by the famous amusement park there is a huge public park with wide alleys, vast lawns and woods. You can explore it on foot, bike or from a horse-drawn carriage. On the other side of the city lies the Lainzer Tiergarten, hunting grounds turned game preserve, with free-roaming deer, elks, mouflons and wild boars.
Coming back to the city center, you should also visit the Natural History Museum – with one of the richest collections of minerals, gems, fossils and taxidermied animals from all around the world. The museum also houses one of the most iconic Stone Age works of art – the figurine of Venus of Willendorf.
Culinary inventors of Vienna
The presence of the imperial court had the local chefs and confectioners hone their skills for centuries. This made Vienna one of the key locations for gourmet food enthusiasts in Europe. There are some unverified claims that Vienna is the origin place of bagels, croissants and even cappuccino! To add to the confusion, the popular “wiener” sausages actually originate in Frankfurt, Germany!
What we can definitely attribute to the talent of Viennese chefs, is the famous Sachertorte, a chocolate cake with apricot jam between the layers and a dark chocolate icing. Visiting Vienna you have to also try the Apfelstrudel, a traditional Austrian pastry with apple-cinnamon filling.
Vienna has also a great offer for meat eaters. The classic Wiener schnitzel is a flattened and crumbed pan-fried veal cutlet, served with a garnish of lemon and parsley. It’s a must-have for foodies visiting Vienna. If you are more calorie-conscious, try the Tafelspitz – allegedly a favorite dish of the emperor Franz Josef. It’s a piece of veal boiled in broth, served with a mix of minced apples and horseradish.
VISIONAPARTMENTS in Vienna
VISIONAPARTMENTS offers 21 apartments in the heart of Vienna’s center. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from both the Old City’s landmarks and the business hub of Leopoldstadt. A studio apartment rent starts at 1,890 EUR per month. If you rent a serviced apartment, you don’t have to worry about anything. All furniture and equipment comes with it. You can book your apartment today and move in tomorrow. The company only needs a few contact details to prepare the contract and you will have to pay a small deposit, usually the amount of a monthly rent. The minimum rent period is 2 days. You can leave the temporary home whenever you like – without cleaning it or searching for a new tenant. This solution is particularly suitable for expats, people relocating from abroad or for a comfortable stay while searching for a long-term home.