[Europe Week 1] Walking Around Downtown Vienna

Vienna is a city with a long history. We were here for 3 days, but it wasn’t possible to see everything in a short period of time. The post covers the attractions I visited in downtown Vienna, including the Hofburg Palace. My two museum visits will be in separate posts.  

Stadtpark

Stadtpark is located on the east of old city centre and close to the Wien Mitte train station. It was the first place I visited in Vienna. I thought I need to kill some time before meeting up with my group, so I came here and relaxed a bit.

Stadtpark The Pond
The Pond

It has opened to the public for more than 150 years. The well-kept park is full of trees and lawns. It was easy to find a bench in shades to sit down. It has a canal and a pond (not connected) in the middle.

Stadtpark Monuments
Johann Strauss monument (left) and Schubert monument (right)

I also saw a few statues when I was walking around. The bronze Johann Strauss monument at the south of the pond is the most famous. The Schubert monument at the east of the pond is also quite recognizable.

Info: Website

Prater

Prater is a large public park which includes the amusement park Wurstelprater. It is only 10-minute walk away from our hotel, so I walked here with my friend after dinner at KLYO.

Prater Entrance
Prater Entrance

There is no entrance fee to get into the park, but patrons pay a fee (€1.50 ~ €5.00) to each attraction they want to use. This allowed us to freely walk around the park and check out the attractions. Wiener Riesenrad, the ferris wheel built in 1897, is the most famous attraction.

We didn’t ride any attractions that night because it was quite late. I am not a big fan of amusement parks, but think it is a great place for families with kids.

Info: Website (in German with some English contents)

Prater Attractions
Prater Attractions

Downtown Vienna Buildings

During the walking tour, I saw a painting on a typical white building. The guide explained that these are from a long time ago and were hidden and revealed later during the renovations. What a surprise!

Downtown Vienna A drawing on a building
A drawing on a building

Most buildings in the first district look like the ones in the below picture. They are several stories high and can be dated back to several hundred years ago. Most of them are in white, beige, or yellow. The look is pretty consistent in the old city centre. I could feel the history as I was walking by them.

Downtown Vienna
Buildings in downtown Vienna

Jesuit Church

German: Katholische Kirche Jesuitenkirche – Universitätskirche (Mariä Himmelfahrt)

Our tour guide brought us to Jesuit Church. It was not crowded at all, and we were able to examine the interior in great detail. The interior looks very elegant, and art is in every corner of the church.

Jesuit Church
Jesuit Church Interior

I highly recommend this church if you like to see a historic church in the city and want to avoid the crowds. Don’t forget to look up and check out the illusory ceiling frescoes by Andrea Pozzo.

Jesuit Church Ceiling
The Ceiling of Jesuit Church

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

German: Domkirche St. Stephan

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is at the centre of the old downtown and in the middle of the shopping district. Unfortunately, this was the end point of our guided tour, so we didn’t learn too much about the church. This Roman Catholic church is the mother church for the surrounding area and is also the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. At that time, I didn’t realize that this church is this important.

St. Stephen's Cathedral Exterior
The exterior of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

I didn’t spend a lot of time here because I already saw the Jesuit Church in great detail. I don’t think we could go very far inside, so I only took the following photo of the interior. It is also possible to visit the tower and go up the stairs to the top. I didn’t do it but the view must be amazing.

St. Stephen's Cathedral Interior
The interior of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace is one of the three palaces in Vienna. It is a massive complex with more than a dozen buildings. This was the winter residence of the Habsburg rulers before 1918. It took me quite some time to walk by and have a look at the buildings and architecture.

The Hofburg Palace
The Hofburg Palace Neue Burg section

There are also a few statues in the centre of the plazas. The one below is the statue of Archduke Charles, who was famous for leading the army in the Napoleonic Wars.

The Hofburg Palace Statue
The statue of Archduke Charles

There are also various museums showcasing the imperial life. I didn’t visit any museums at that time because I felt tired after our tour and walking around the palace complex. I would love to visit them next time and see the wealth and the luxurious lifestyle of the Habsburg family.

Info: Website (information on the Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum, and Silver Collection)

Rathaus

People may think that some magnificent buildings like Rathaus (Vienna City Hall) and the Parliament Building are very old. They feature Greek or Gothic styles which are considered to be older designs. We had a guest lecture with Professor Maerk from the city, and he revealed that these buildings were actually built in the second half of the 19th century. The purpose was to respond to people’s desire for liberty and free press.

Viennese Buildings - Rathaus
Rathaus (Vienna City Hall), a gothic style building completed in 1883

Würstelstand am Hohen Markt

I didn’t want to go to restaurants for all lunches and dinners. Luckily, I found this sausage stand with a 4.5-star rating on Google Map. I ordered the cheese-filled sausage which was quite big and came with bread. It was delicious more than enough to fill my stomach. The price was also very affordable.

Würstelstand am Hohen Markt
Würstelstand am Hohen Markt
Würstelstand am Hohen Markt Hot Dog
Cheese-filled Sausage

Conclusion

Vienna is a city with a lot of history, art, and royal influences. There are a lot of places I would love to see, such as the Schönbrunn Palace and the museums I mentioned above. The city offers too many things to do and see, and there is always not enough time!

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