Vienna is the only city in Europe where I have a strong personal and family connection. My great grandmother was born in Vienna more than a hundred years ago and I still remember her description of how beautiful the city was. She moved out of Vienna around the First World War and never came back. Thinking about it, I might be the first of my family to get back there in a century.
But, lets talk about Vienna and not my family.
I don’t know why but I have this feeling that more people should go to Vienna. For the last few weeks, the research I have been doing about the city and I know I going to fall in love with it. If you think about the Vienna’s history, there is no way of not liking this place. Vienna’s history begins with the Romans, who founded it in the 1st Century CE as Vindobona, one of a line of Roman defensive outposts against Germanic tribes. Vindobona‘s central garrison was on the site of what is now the Hoher Markt and I read that you can still see the excavations of its foundations there today.
But, most of the people remember Vienna as the place where the Habsburg court was for several centuries. First as the Imperial seat of the Holy Roman Empire, then the capital of the Austrian Empire, and later of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Habsburg court influenced the culture that exists here even today: this is why Vienna’s residents are often formal in manner, using polite forms of address and dressing more formally than in other cities.
All this imperial tradition made Vienna a very metropolitan city. Imperial Austria and Austro-Hungary were multi-lingual, multi-ethnic empires and although the German-speakers normally played the dominant role in Vienna there has long been ethnic and lingual diversity in the city. Everything changed with the country annexation before the Second World War and it kept changing when Austria established that it would be going the way of the West and not that of the Eastern Block.
By doing this, Vienna became isolated from its previous ties to its Slavic and Hungarian neighbors. If you don’t know, Bratislava is less that an hour away by boat and you can reach Hungary from Vienna in less that 90 minutes by train. So, Vienna went from a well established metropolitan city in the heart of Central Europe to the capital of a small german speaking country with strong regional identity.
What do we want to do in Vienna
From everything that we read about Vienna, the places below are the ones we are looking forward the most.
- Schönbrunn Palace is the former imperial summer residence of the Habsburg family. Since the 60’s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna and one of the most important cultural monuments in the country.
- Since we are staying really close to the Belvedere, I know we are going to spend some time around the two baroque palaces, the Upper and Lower Belvedere, the Orangery and Palace Stables. Marcela loves Baroque architecture and I know she will fall in love with the place.
- Everything around the Donauturm looks so beautiful that I know i going to have to spend some time around Donaustadt and Donauinsel.
- I am not a huge fan of amusement parks but I have to go to the Prater. My goal is to take some pictures from the top of the ferris wheel and enjoy this view from Vienna.
- The Tiergarten Schönbrunn is the oldest zoo in the world and, of course, I want to go there to see the pandas!
But, Vienna cannot be reduced to this five places and this is why we created a huge foursquare list with everything that we want to see in the city. It would be great to be able to see it all but we are only staying in the city for 5 days.
If you want to know more about Vienna, take a look at Wikipedia, Wikitravel and The online travel guide for Vienna. And follow us on Instagram and facebook to get all the photo updates from this trip.