Buckingham Palace - Changing of the Guards: Great photo opportunities.
At Buckingham Palace, Guard Mounting takes place at 11.30 am. It is held daily from May to July, and on alternate dates throughout the rest of the year. February 2014 - even days (ie 2, 4, 6, etc.)
March 2014 - even days (2, 4, 6, etc.) PLUS 31 March etc'.
Changing of the Guard is one of the most amazing displays of royal tradition. No-one does the pomp and ceremony as well as the British do.
The Guard which mounts at Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is divided into two Detachments: the Buckingham Palace Detachment (which is responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace), and the St. James’s Palace Detachment, (which guards St. James’s Palace). The Guards are usually from the five regiments of Foot Guards (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards regiments).
The handover is accompanied by a Guards band. The music played ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals and even familiar pop songs. The St James's Palace Old (changed) Guard marches up The Mall to Buckingham Palace, accompanied by a Band or Corps of Drums, around 11:15am and enters the south gate. The New (changing) Guard marches from Wellington barracks (200 metres south) accompanied by a Band, and enters the north gate. After the 30-45 minutes ceremony, the Old Guard with band marches out the central gate and back to Wellington Barracks. Then the St. James's Palace New Guard marches out the central gate, as well, and up the Mall. Bear in mind these routes - if you want to get a view of the guards when the palace gates and fences are too packed...
Tip: Buckingham Palace is not the only place to see Guard Mounting.
At Windsor Castle, the ceremony takes place at 11.00 am. For most of the year Guard Mounting takes place on alternate dates, but it is held daily (except Sundays) from April to July. At Horse Guards Arch, Changing the Guard takes place daily at 11.00 am (10.00 am on Sundays) and lasts about half an hour; it is normally held on Horse Guards Parade by the arch of Horse Guards Building. If it's raining, don't go.. There is no place to stay under !!!
Important Tips: The guards come in three different sessions. Much of the crowd leaves after the first group marches. It is much easier to see the second group about 10 minutes later (the band) and then later to see the third group (the mounted group). There is a changing at night time too which requires tickets. Stand at the Victoria Monument for the best view (this turns out to be a very good thing because as the horses and guards approach and depart yiu are able to walk the platform around the monument to see both events for some terrific photo ops and hear the bands, or stand in the middle around the fountain (for arrivals and departures of the Guards and Bands and a fence-obscured view of the ceremony) or immediately behind one of the gates (for the 30 minute ceremony). If it is too busy - you can snap pictures as the guards return home. Birdcage walk in St. James Park may be a fantastic location for Guards and Band arriving and returning from the ceremony. Protect your valuables as pick-pockets are everywhere.
Many thousands of people come out to watch. Crowds in front of Buckingham Palace are huge except in freezing weather. It's impossible to get any reasonable view unless you arrive at Buckingham Palace at least 60-90 minutes before the changing of the guard begins. Sometimes, getting there an hour ahead of time, is not enough. People push and shove to try and see. Realistically, unless you are in the very front row - don't expect to see much. iPads and phones are blocking everyone's view. During the event itself - not much happens. Waiting to the Guards and gathering with all this loads of people around the front square of the Palace is really an interesting experience as well...
Circular on-day in medieval Sandwich
I signified this daily tip as History because Sandwich is one of the most preserved medieval towns in the UK. But, this daily tip includes a lot of walking in the nature and river scenery. The Stour river flows through the old town and its picturesque banks add a lot of charm and pleasure to the sleepy town of Sandwich. The main attraction (and the first one) are the Secret Gardens of Sandwich, or, better known as, the Saluation Gardens. Make also a circular tour around the old town, meandering in its narrow alleys, gazing at its half-timbered houses and diverting to a few nature reserves and cricket fields and / or golf courses.
From: Sandwich Railway Station head northwest on Delfside toward St. George's Rd. Turn right onto St. George's Rd. Turn left onto Sandown Rd . Turn right onto Knightrider St. The Gardens will be on your left hidden beyond red-bricked walls.
The Secret Gardens: Open daily 10.00 - 17.00, 6.50 GBP (seniors - 5 GBP). Steve Edney, the Head Gardener makes, here, a wonderful work. It is one of the best gardens I've seen, for years, in the UK. The garden is full with innovation, brilliant combinations of plants and passionate love to the art of horticulture. Allow for 1-2 hours in these delightful gardens. Completely magical. Inadequate toilet facilities - just a small room with limited privacy !
Exit the walled garden and continue along the Knightrider st until you pass trough the Quay and face the Stour river. On your left the Fisher Gate (1384) - one of the ancient gates of Sandwich Old Town:
Walk along the Quay with its splendid views crossing the Barbican & Toll Bridge:
Turn left and immediately right to the Strand - the main road of Old Sandwich. On your left Sandwich Weavers Pub and the Chanter's House:
Sandwich - King's Lodging from 1400. King Henry VIII lodged here and Queen Elizabeth I did visit here in 1572:
Bowling Street (fourth lane to the left - after starting the Strand):
Next alley to the left is St. Mary with St. Mary Church:
The Strand beds, a little, to the left and on your right rest Gazets Nature Reserve and Gallows Cricket Field:
The Strand street change its name to the Ash Road. You continue along this road, crossing the Railway track until you arrive to the White Mill (from the 18th Century) (open: Tue., Fri., and Sun. 10.00 - 12.00):
Here we suggest turning back along the Ash Rd. Turn right to the Cricket Club and walk along The Butts. Lovely sights in the afternoon:
Crossing a small field yo arrive to a small commercial center. Turn right to the Guildhall Square (Market Place) and the adjacent St. Peter Church:
Between the Strand (to the North) and the New Street (To the South) lies the ancient King Street. Its shops are from year 1895 and onward and its present look lasts from 1920 (!). The "Roses" shop is a stunning place that keeps its original decor from its heydays in the 19th Century:
From King St. turn right to the Chain Road and immediately left to the New St. which leads you back to Sandwich Station.
Via Appia Antica - 1/2 day walk:
Start: Circo Massimo Metro station (line B, the BLUE line).
End: Bus 660, north to Tomb of Cecilia Metella in Via Appia Antica. Bus 660 bring you to (final stop) Colli Albani Metro station (line A, the RED line).
Distance: 5.4 km of easy walk. We make, in this trip, ONLY the very first kilometres of Via Appia - starting at urban Rome and ending at the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. Most of the way is on uncomfortable, pebbled ground which dictates slow, careful walk.
Time: allow 3-4 hours (excluding visits in the Catacombs).
Warning: Do this itinerary ONLY on Sundays. Walking along Via Appia Antica during weekdays might be VERY DANGEROUS. on week days the via Appia Antica between Porta San Sebastiano and Cecilia Metella is open to traffic and there is insufficient room for pedestrians.
From Circo Massimo or Porta Capena to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella and to Castello Caetani - the route is split into two sections:
The first (section 1A) is in urban Rome, outside the Park - from Circo Massimo to Porta San Sebastiano. The feeling in this section is like in other parts of Rome. To understand the close link between the monumental centre of Rome and the Appia Antica the ideal entrance to the Park is the ancient Porta Capena near Circo Massimo. Before arriving at Porta San Sebastiano - the ancient Porta Appia in the city walls built in the second half of the third century A.D. by the Emperor Aurelian - there existed (and still exists under the names of Via delle Terme di Caracalla and Via di Porta San Sebastiano) the initial stretch of the road, almost a mile long that, starting off from Porta Capena in the walls of the republic dating from the fourth century B.C., became incorporated in the city with the building of the Aurelian Walls.
The second inside the park (section 1B) - from San Sebastiano to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. Here, you are expected to feel like in an archeological site/park - more quiet, more pastoral, more green. During the weekdays (unrecommended) there is a heavy stream of traffic. But (sorry to say), also on Sundays there is a non-stop flow of vehicles. The noise of vehicles on a pebbled road is unpleasant. Along the second section - most of the way is without pavements ! In this section the walk winds its way around the perimeter walls of the suburban farmhouses. This is the "road through the vineyards" recorded on Giovanbattista Nolli's famous map in 748. The Park of the Appia Antica includes the first 16 Km of the ancient consular road (from Porta San Sebastiano to the intersection with Via Appia Nuova in Frattocchie). The Park of the Appia Antica has been declared protected since 1988.
How to get there Bus and Underground:
To reach the Park headquarters (and bicycle renting point) take bus lines number:
- 218 (starting every 20 min) from Piazza San Giovanni, it end the line in front of the church, Basilica San Giovanni. You can get there by Metro Line A, stop San Giovanni.
To reach further stops of Via Appia Antica in the Park:
From Termini - Metro Blue B Line to Circo Massimo, then Bus 118 or
- 118 (starting every 30-40 min) from Piazzale Ostiense outside the Metro Station Piramide Line B and get off at the stop "Appia Antica/Domine Quo Vadis" (note again: the 118 is only every 30-40 minutes and not reliable)
Or catch bus lines number 30, 160, 671, 714, or 715 that run along via Cristoforo Colombo, get off at the stop "Cristoforo Colombo/Bavastro". Cross the road and enter Circonvallazione Ardeatina.
To reach the valle della Caffarella
To reach the information point in Largo Tacchi Venturi take the underground line A (to the Colli Albani - Parco Appia Antica stop). The 765, 87 and 660 routes also run near here.
To the Aqueducts
The via Lemonia entrance is close to the Subaugusta underground station, on line A, and to the bus routes 557, 451, 503, 552, 558, 559, 590, 650, and 654.
To reach Tormarancia
The n°160 bus stops in Piazza Lante, the meeting point for guided visits. The 716 and 670 also stop near here.
By visiting this web site www.atac.roma.it you will be able to find all the information you need about public transport and with the 'find the line' function you can plan your route to reach the park.
Directions to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, Circus of Maxentius: they are served by the 660 bus.
To reach the catacombs of St. Callistus take the 218 or the 118 bus lines. To get to the catacombs of St. Sebastian, bus n° 660. For the catacombs of St. Domitilla, the 716.
Toilets: Park Headquarters (a light diversion from our route) and San Callisto catacombs.
Refreshments: San Sebastiano and San Callisto catacombs and sporadic bars along this section of Via Appia. We advise visitors to walk through the San Callisto catacombs, the entrance is at the crossroads between the via Appia Antica and via Ardeatina. Most of the essential facilities are here.
Wheelchair access: mission almost impossible along the second section.
Weather: NOT in rainy days NOR in hot days with temperatures above 27 - 28 degrees celsius.
Section 1A: from Porta Capena to Porta San Sebastaino. it starts from the central archeological zone, opposite the Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) near the baths of Caracalla (where the ancient Porta Capena was) and ends in Porta San Sebastiano, where the Park of Via Appia starts. This is the urban stretch, outside the Park, into the walls. This stretch of the via Appia Antica is called the urban stretch because in ancient times it was part of the city, the starting point of the via Appia and via Latina. So, you understand that, the monuments described in this section are not at present in the Parco dell’Appia Antica, which starts at Porta S.Sebastiano. But, this section 1A should be considered as a whole and illustrated together as part of the Via Appia itself and, still, in the historic centre of Rome. Distance: 1.8 - 2.2 km. It goes, basically along two main roads: Viale delle Terme di Caracalla and Via di Porta San Sebastiano.
From Circo Massimo Metro station turn left, and, again left. You'll see brown signpost of Porta Capena.
Near the Baths of Caracalla:
Take the MIDDLE road (Viale delle Terme di Caracalla) when the Terme di Caracalla (Caracalla Baths) are on your right. Enter the back (free) area of the baths to get a glimpse of this impressive site (no need to enter with full payment...). Note: Combined ticket €6 including admission to the Baths of Caracalla, to the tomb of Cecilia Metella and to Villa dei Quintili (see later):
You arrive to a complex crossroads. Choose the middle one, slighting 45 degrees left, VIA DI PORTA SAN SEBASTIANO. The Via Antoniniana should be on your right, the Viale delle Terme di Caracalla should be also on your right and Piazzale Nuao Pobpilio and Via di Porta Latina on your left. The further you walk - you'll see the Via Appia Park headquarters on your right (toilets).
From here, you walk, all the time, direct, southward.
If you chose the right road - you should see, after 160 m. (2-3 minutes walk) the Chiesa (church) Cesareo in Palatio on your right:
300 m. further (4 minutes walk), on your left - the Tomb of the Scipios.
300 m. further, on your right Museu delle Mura (Museum of the Walls), Arch of Drusus and Porta San Sebastiano:
Look at the walls stretching to both sides of the imposing arch and gate:
Here starts Section 1B: Into the park, out of the walls. From Porta San Sebastiano to Cecilia Metella and Castello Caetani. It is more country landscape. Distance: 2.5 km. The Viale di Porta Ardeatina on your right. Viale delle Mura Latine - on your left. We pass under the gate and arch and face this fountain:
From Porta San Sebastiano, inside which is located the interesting Museum of the Walls, the road runs down slightly following the ancient Clivo di Marte thus called after the sanctuary arising there and of which a number of remains were recently unearthed.From here the name of the road changes to Via Appia Antica.
Immediately before the fly-over bridge, on the right, are the remains of a group of tombs dating to some time between the I century B.C. and the II century A.D., while in the modern wall we find inserted a copy of the small column marking mile I , with inscriptions of Vespasian and of Nerva (the original may be found on the balustrade of Piazza del Campidoglio).
First Milestone on the Appian way:
We cross Via Cilicia. On our left Il Vivaio Garden Centre (Via Appia 27) and on our right Information Centre and bicycles rental stall. Here we find the complex of the former Latin Paper-mill, now the Headquarters of the Appian Way Park Authority ( Via Appia Antica, 42 - ph. 065126314, 065130682 - www.parcoappiaantica.org) a visiting centre where it is possible to make use of numerous services (guided tours: toll free number 800028000). This Park, set up on the basis of a regional law in 1988, extends for about 3,500 hectares from Porta San Sebastiano to Boville, in the municipality of Marino. The Park comprises the first 11 miles of the Regina Viarum besides the Caffarella Valley and the area of the Aqueducts. The park is beautiful and the aqueducts are spectacular.
Before we are arriving to a fork of roads we see the Church of Domine Quo Vadis or Santa Maria in Palmis. A seventeenth-century reconstruction of a chapel erected in the IX century on the place where, according to tradition, Saint Peter escaping from Rome to avoid the persecutions of Nero, is said to have had a vision of Jesus who reprimanded him, inviting him to turn back. The "prints" of two feet on a marble slab in the centre of the church (copy of a relief to be found in the nearby basilica of San Sebastiano) are supposed to be the miraculous footprints of Our Lord: in fact this is a pagan ex voto for the successful undertaking of a journey. The alleded footprints of Jesus that St Peter saw on the Appian way after the dream that he had where he saw Jesus on the Appian Way and asked in Latin (shouldn't they be speaking Hebrew or Aramic?) Quo Vadis, Domine? Thus the name of the Church that marks the spot where it happened:
inside of the Church of Quo Vadis:
Almost in front of the church may be glimpsed, concealed by an old hostelry, the cement core of a cylindrical tomb (closed for restoration), surmounted by a small unfinished tower dating from the Middle Ages: this contains the Sepulchre (tomb) of Priscilla, wife of the powerful freedman of the Emperor Domitian, Flavio Abascanto.
Coming to a crossroad we take the left leg (Via Appia Antica) pointing to San Sebastaino Catacombs. The Via Ardeatina will be branching off the Appian way to the right after the crossroad.
After the crossroads with the Via Ardeatina, the Via Appia begins the straight route by means of which it arrives at the Alban Hills. A short distance further on, on the left, we find Via della Caffarella leading to the broad Valley of the Caffarella, of great natural and historic interest.
Caffarella Park: There are several entrances. After the Quo Vadis church take the narrow road that leads off the Appian Way to the left. After the San Sebastian catacombs take the Vicolo della Basilica opposite, turn right into Via Appia Pignatelli and then first left at Vicolo S. Urbano. Avoiding the Appian Way altogether take the Metro Line A to Colli Albani. The park is 500 m SW of the station.Caffarella Park is part of the larger Appia Antica park. It contains both a working farm and numerous Roman ruins, some quite well preserved. It is a great place for a stroll or cycle away from Rome’s traffic.
Further, on your left - Antica Hostaria dei Liberti. We continue walking southward and after 400 m. (passing Scuola Agraria on our right) we see, on our right the entrance to the San Callisto Catacombs Park - ever since the 3rd century the most important Christian burial place of Rome that housed many tombs of popes and martyrs. The park contains ALL facilities for the weary-legged hikers (WC, bar, fountains, green rest areas etc'). Open: 09.00-12.00, 14.00-17.00, Wednesdays - close. Admission: €6 and includes a guided tour in several languages.
Closeup of this building at SanCallist (St Callistus) with a Latin inscription about the holy martyrs on it:
St Callistus waiting area for entering the catacombs:
San Callisto Catacombs Park:
In the eastern corner of the San Callisto Park you find bus station of bus No. 218 arriving from/to San Giovanni in Laterano Metro station in Rome.
From the park you can take the asphalted path leading southward, parallel to the Via Appia Antica road. From the San Callisto Park entrance it is rather dangerous to walk along the Via Appia Antica road for a mile or so as it is narrow with lots of traffic. A more pleasant option is to walk parallel with the Via Appia along the above asphalted path and through the gardens of the San Callisto catacombs (except Wednesdays when they are closed). You can rejoin Via Appia at the third mile where, on the right, are the church and catacombs of St Sebastian (see below).
Further, south, one hundred metres beyond the crossroads with the Via Appia Pignatelli is the entrance to the Jewish Catacombs of Vigna Randanini. The catacomb can be visited by small groups of no more then twelve people on the first Monday of each month. As a custodian must be present to open the gates and accompany the visitors through the underground galleries, it is essential for groups to reserve well in advance; individuals can inquire about spaces available on already-scheduled tours. The proprietors of the Vigna Randanini organize a schedule of these public visits and can be contacted by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by fax (+39/06/68806897).
We pass, on our left, the Instiuto Salesiano San callisto (on the asphalted path parallel to Via Appia Antica) - before arriving to the cross-roads. After the subsequent cross-roads with Via delle Sette Chiese (on your right) we come to an open space on the left containing the column erected in 1852 in memory of the work of reinstatement of the Appian Way carried out by Luigi Canina at the order of Pope Pius IX. On the right is the Basilica of Saint Sebastian built at the beginning of the IV century but rebuilt in the XVII century. Earlier called Saints Peter and Paul (Memoria Apostolorum), after the IX century it was dedicated to the martyr buried in the adjacent catacombs to which access is had from the church. Open: 09:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00, closed Su and 15 Nov-15 Dec. Entrance to the catacombs, which are smaller than the others in the area, is to the right of the church entrance. The area where you buy tickets and wait for tours has a good display of sarcophagi from the catacombs. You can rent a bicycle at the catacombs for further exploration of the Appian Way. €8 for the catacombs.
The Catacombs of San Sebastiano were the first to be indicated using the generic expression deriving from the Greek Katà Kymbas, meaning "within the quarries" and which later gave rise to the name used to designate all underground cemeteries. First begun some time after the middle of the III century and thereafter considerably developed, these are the only ones which have always been accessible and frequented. Of the four levels of tunnels only the second can be visited. The church, built in the age of the Emperor Constantine, now appears as it did following the radical reorganization of the seventeenth century.
Some two hundred metres after San Sebastiano, on the left we find the ruins of the imperial residence / Villa of Maxentius.
On the first floor, partially hidden by a farmhouse built against it (now restored and destined to become a museum area), we find the mausoleum known as the Tomb of Romulus (Mausoleo di Romolo) from the name of the Emperor's son who was buried there in 309 A.D.
Set at the centre of an area surrounded by a four-sided arcade, the mausoleum consisted of a "rotunda" with cupola roof and preceded by a pronaos in all ways similar to the Pantheon. On the second storey we find the Circus, 250 metres long and 92 metres wide, delimited on the top side by two semi-cylindrical towers between which were located the twelve "pits" from which the racing chariots came out. In the centre of the area is the "peg" around which the chariots turned and on the curved side a triumphal arch. The steps accommodated 10,000 spectators. Beyond the Circus rose the Villa, which was directly connected to the imperial tribune in the Circus.
Underneath it and incorporated in it, we find an earlier villa dating from the II century, built in turn over one dating from late republican times.
Here starts a slight climb and we pass a nice tree-lined avenue.
On the top of the rise followed by the road immediately thereafter, stands the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, erected shortly after 50 B.C. for the daughter of Q. Cecilius Metellus Creticus, wife of Marcus Grassus, son of the triumvir colleague of Pompey and Caesar. Combined ticket €6 including admission to the tomb, to Villa dei Quintili and to the Baths of Caracalla.
Inside of The Tomb of Cecilia Metella:
It is of the type having a cylindrical body set on a square base. This cylinder, faced with marble and crowned with a marble frieze in relief with festoons between bucranes, is 11 metres high for 29.50 metres in diameter. Originally it probably ended in a conical structure or, more probably, in a mound of earth, and inside it contained the funerary cell that was closed on top by a cap vault. The Ghibelline battlements form part of a medieval supra-elevation while the tomb was transformed into a tower and included in a fortified quadrilateral that comprised the Appian Way. At the beginning of the XIV century, in the form of a corner "keep", it was incorporated in the Castello dei Caetani, which also comprised the Palazzo, built against the tomb: within its recently restored interior the materials collected from along the road at the beginning of the XX century are gathered, to form the primary nucleus of the "Appian Way Museum". Combined €6 ticket including admission to the villa, to Cecilia Metella and to the Baths of Caracalla. Open times: not reliable. Expect this site to be closed most of the time. Still under excavations.
Mausoleum of Caecilia Metella and the Castrum Caetani:
Also restored of late and open to visitors is the inside of the Tomb at whose underground level a spectacular lava flow dating back to 260,000 years ago may be seen.
On the other side of the road we find the little church of San Nicola, roofless, that is a rare example of the Gothic (Cistercian) style in Rome. The restoration is a co-operation project of Italy and Colombia. There is also a nice sculpture of Fanor Hernandez.
About 80 metres further on was the column marking mile III, while a portion of the original road paving is visible here with its great slabs of volcanic lava. After the crossroads with Via di Cecilia Metella (on your left), beyond the walls and enclosures of the villas built in the last few decades, we are confronted with the great ruin known as Torre di Capo di Bove - This is a recently opened archaeological site displaying the thermal baths of the villa of the wealthy Herod Atticus. FREE. Open:10:00-16:00, Su 10:00-18:00.
Some 200 metres further on, the remains of two tower sepulchres. After passing Casale Torlona (on a level with no. 240), the road finally runs freely flanked by pine and cypress trees with numerous remains of tombs now more easily accessible.
Via Appia Antica 228 - a pretty private property:
Retrace your steps and walk back to Via Appia 198. On your right (now, your face to the north !) there is a 660 mini-bus stop (every 20 minutes). Its final stop is in Colli Albani Metro station (line A, the RED line).
Parco degli Acquedotti (Aqueduct Park): between Via Appia Nuova and Via Lemonia. Your best conventional bet is taking the Metro Line A to station Giulio Agricola and head southwest on Viale Giulio Agricola toward Via Tuscolana, 400 m. Continue onto Piazza Aruleno Celio Sabino, 120 m. Turn left onto Via Lemonia. Walk in Via Lemonia until you see a path leading to the Park. Open all the time. This pleasant park contains very well-preserved ruins of two Roman impressive aqueducts. Gets crowded on Sundays but it is a very pleasant site (in nice weather) for hikers and joggers.
Upper and Lower Belvedere, Augustinerkirche and the Prunksaal.
Main attractions: The Belvedere palaces and gardens, The Austrian National Gallery, Kärntner Str., Lobkowitzplatz, The Austrian Theatre Museum, Josefsplatz, Augustinerkirche, Prunksaal.
Tip 1: The Belvedere palaces and gardens, The Austrian National Gallery, Josefsplatz.
Tip 2: Augustinerkirche.
Tip 3: The Prunksaal.
Duration: 1/2 - 1 day.
Distance: 4-5 km.
Transportation: Upper Belvedere, Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna:
Underground: U1 (Stop "Südtirolerplatz"), Train: Station "Quartier Belvedere", S-Bahn: Station "Quartier Belvedere", Tram: D (Stop "Schloss Belvedere"), 18 and O (Stop "Quartier Belvedere"), Bus: 69A (Stop "Quartier Belvedere").
Lower Belvedere | Orangery | Palace Stables, Rennweg 6, 1030 Vienna: Tram: D, 71 (Stop "Unteres Belvedere").
21er Haus, Schweizergarten, Arsenalstraße 1, 1030 Vienna: Underground: U1 (Stop "Südtirolerplatz"), Train: Stop "Quartier Belvedere", S-Bahn: Stop "Quartier Belvedere", Tram: D (Stop "Quartier Belvedere"), 18 and O (Stop "Quartier Belvedere"), Bus: 69A (Stop "Quartier Belvedere").
Opening Hours: Upper Belvedere - Daily 10.00 to 18.00, Lower Belvedere, Orangery - Daily 10.00 to 18.00, Wednesday 10.00 - 21.00, Palace Stables - Daily 10.00 to 12.00, 21er Haus - Wednesday and Thursday 11.00 to 21.00, Friday to Sunday 11.00 to 18.00, open on public holidays.
Orientation and Tips: The Belvedere is a magnificent palace complex in Vienna. Two Baroque palaces stand in row on a sloping hill. Between the palaces lies a wonderful French garden with fountains, statues and cascades. “Belvedere” translates (in Italian) to “beautiful view” and that’s what you can enjoy - visiting this wonderful site. Get there just after opening. The light is perfect for photography (especially the Upper Belvedere) and the only people there for about two hours are a few joggers. This makes photography without hordes of people effortless. it's forbidden to visit with a backpack (even small one). There are free lockers next to the toilets at level -1.
Entrance to the garden is free of charge and can be accessed either from the south or north side of the Belvedere complex. Downhill is probably the best direction to enjoy the view over the gardens, the palaces, the surrounding buildings. Enter at Upper Belvedere and then find your way down. The panorama of central Vienna with its spires and domes is in front of you. Entrance and access from the top is either from Landstraßer Gürtel past the water basin, or, most convenient for public transport users, from the tram stop "Schloss Belvedere" (line D) in Prinz-Eugen-Straße next to the upper palace. Less recommended is the access to the gardens from the bottom which is from Rennweg through the passage at the left end of the lower palace.
Combi-Ticket prices: Upper Belvedere, Lower Belvedere/Orangery and 21er Haus with one ticket. This ticket is valid for 14 days after the first visit.
Adults € 22.50, Seniors (60 years and above) € 18.50, Students (0-26 years) € 18.50, Groups (of 10 Persons and over) € 18.50, Children & Teenagers (0-18 years) free. Discounted tickets with valid Vienna-Card € 19.
Photography is not allowed inside Oberes and Unteres Belvederes,
General information: The complex was built as the summer palace for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), successful general and art connoisseur, who succeeded in defeating the Turkish army in 1683 (many still perceive as the most successful military commander in Austrian history). The Belvedere was designed by court architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, who created a masterpiece of Baroque architecture - as the general's summer residence - at the time it was still outside the gates of the city. The foundation of the collections of the museums were laid by Prince Eugène of Savoy himself, who was an avid patron of the Arts and amassed a large collection of paintings and sculptures from across Europe. After the death of the childless prince in 1736, his possessions, including works of art and a large library were sold off by his cousin Anna Victoria. In 1752 she also sold the palaces to empress Maria Theresia, who decided to use the Belvedere to house the royal art collection. In 1779 she opened the palace and gardens to the public. In 1897 the Upper Belvedere was modified by the architect Emil von Förster so that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir of Emperor Franz-Josef, could live here with his wife Sophie. At the end of the nineteenth century, the art collection moved to the purpose-built Kunsthistorisches Museum (see my blog devoted to this museum). This Baroque architectural jewel consists of two palaces (Upper and Lower Belvedere), which today house Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present day. In 1918, after the war, the palaces were appropriated by the state, after which both palaces became home to state museums. Agnes Husslein-Arco, formerly Director of the Salzburg Rupertinum and the Museum der Moderne on the Mönchsberg, has been Director of the Belvedere since 2007. She has positioned the Belvedere as a museum of Austrian art in an international context, dispensing with using the official name Österreichische Galerie. Following extensive adaptation and remodeling, the highlights of the collections of medieval and Baroque art (previously in the Lower Belvedere) have been placed on display at the Upper Belvedere since spring 2008. For the first time, the entire scope of the permanent collection, from the Middle Ages to the mid-twentieth century, can now be seen under one roof. The adapted rooms in the Lower Belvedere and Orangery now provide space for temporary exhibitions. Moreover, a study collection of the medieval holdings was set up in the former Palace Stables. The permanent collections were redisplayed in 2011.
Upper Belvedere - Oberes Belvedere: world's largest Klimt collection. The Oberes Belvedere or upper Belvedere stands at the southern end of the park, at the top of the slope. The upper palace became the residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand until he was assassinated in 1914, an event that led to the start of the First World War.
Its exterior is much more impressive than the rather modest Unteres Belvedere. Especially the main façade, facing south, is magnificent. The many sculptures that adorn the facade are a reference to the victory over the Turkish army. The rooftop structures are said to evoke tents at Turkish army camps. The impressive Baroque palace was completed in 1723. Its purpose was mainly a ceremonial one, its sumptuous rooms being used to hold different events for the prince's noble guests.
Nowadays the panorama from the Upper Belvedere is still wonderful. It is partly obscured by newer buildings and by the trees in the adjacent garden of Palais Schwarzenberg. Nevertheless it is still a fine view of Vienna, with the gardens and the lower palace in front, the chain of Wienerwald hills in the far background, and the various spires and domes parading the horizon. The steeple and high roof of Stephansdom make the main focal point. From the right end of the terrace you can also spot the pointed steeple of Michaelerkirche and the neo-Gothic twin spires of Votivkirche, the tower of the town hall and the green copper-plated domes of Hofburg, and further left the dome of Karlskirche. Note: there is a particularly good view of the gardens from third floor of the building of the Upper Belvedere:
Prices of Upper Belvedere Permanent Collection: EUR 14 (adults); EUR 11 (visitors of more than 60 years of age); visitors under 19 go free. Worth paying to visit the inside exhibitions - don't let the cost put you off. Worth the money.
The Upper Belvedere has a couple of surprisingly small but excellent cafes. Good food and wine available at a reasonable price. The cafés can be entered free. Ask to use the toilet and you will be given a pass to get to them inside the gallery, so you can see some of it free.
The majestic wrought iron gates which are the entrance leading to the Belvedere Palaces. At the top-side of the gates are two powerful lions guarding a plague and crown.
The Upper Belvedere - home to the Austrian Gallery:
Sculptures below the the Upper Belvedere:
Two sphinxes sit below the Upper Belvedere:
The interior of the Oberes Belvedere was designed by Claude le Fort du Plessy. Unfortunately little of the original interior has been preserved since the building was actively used until the mid-twentieth century. The most impressive hall is the Sala Terrena, where large statues support the vaulted ceiling. The palace without the art masterpieces alone would be worth the visit:
The Austrian National Gallery at the Upper Belvedere hosts not least than dozen collections of Austrian art. They span an era as vast as from the Middle Ages to the present. There are benches to sit upon in most of the many rooms while admiring the masterpieces. We browse most of the rooms in brief:
Historicism and Impressionism: The collection brings together masterpieces by such artists as Hans Makart, Anton Romako, Arnold Böcklin, Jean-François Millet, Emil Jakob Schindler, Carl Schuch, Auguste Rodin, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The centerpiece - are Gustav Klimt’s Golden Period masterpieces.
Hans Makart (May 28, 1840 - October 3, 1884) was a 19th century Austrian academic history painter, designer, and decorator; most well known for his influence on Gustav Klimt and other Austrian artists, but in his own era considered an important artist himself and was a celebrity figure in the high culture of Vienna, attended with almost cult-like adulation.
Hans Makart, The Five Senses (Hearing, Smelling, Tasting, Seeing, Touching), 1872-9:
Anton Romako, Admiral Tegetthoff in the Naval Battle of Lissa II, c. 1878/80:
Camille Jacob Pissarro, Street in Pontoise (Rue de Gisors), 1868:
Oscar Claude Monet (14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926) - Path in Monet’s Garden in Giverny,1902:
Pierre Auguste Renoir, After the Bath, 1876 :
A Seating Bather by Pierre-Auguste Renoir:
Vincent van Gogh, The Plain of Auvers, 1890:
Viennese Secession: The ‘secession’ was a split-off from the Vienna Society of Visual Artists (Künstlerhaus) - triggered as rejection of the latter’s conservatism, still rooted in Historicism. The Secession’s first exhibition was in 1898. One of its priorities was to provide connections with modern art out of Austria. In this sense, it was a kind of Austrian Avant-Garde or Decadence art:
Max Klinger The Judgment of Paris, 1885-1887:
In 1905, Gustav Klimt (1862 Vienna – 1918 Vienna) and a group of artists and architects left the Secession - forming the Kunstschau in 1908 and the Internationale Kunstschau in 1909. The Klimt Group offered modern platform and insight and included names like: Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. In those years Klimt created mainly allegorical and symbolist works, the most famous of which is his depiction of two lovers (The Kiss, 1908). The Belvedere houses the world’s largest collection of oil paintings by Klimt (after losing in court 4 famous pictures claimed by American art collector).
Gustav Klimt - "Lovers", more popularly known as "The Kiss":
Gustav Klimt - "The Bride":
Gustav Klimt: Johanna Staude:
Gustav klimt - portrait of Sonja Knips:
Gustav Klimt, Girl Friends or Water Nymphs, 1904-1907:
Expressionism: Expressionism was one of the leading trends in the first 30-40 years of the twentieth century. The works by Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Herbert Boeckl, Jean Egger, Helene Funke, and Richard Gerstl, are characterized by an ecstatic show of colours meant to enhance expression. An illusionist rendering of surface textures was stressed and displayed in favor of reflecting the artist’s individual sensations and emotions.
Egon Schiele (1890-1918) - The Family. Egon Schiele (June 12, 1890 – October 31, 1918) was an Austrian figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including naked self-portraits. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism:
Egon Schiele, Mother with Two Children III (Mother III), 1915-1917:
Egon Schiele, Death and Maiden, 1915:
Helene Funke, Still Life with Peaches, 1918:
Oskar Kokoschka, Mother and Child, Embracing, 1922:
Oskar Kokoschka, The Tigon, 1926:
Richard Gerstl, The Fey Sisters Karoline and Pauline Fey, 1905:
Between the Wars: This period saw a return to a realistic representation of things as a counter movement to the abstract trends of the Cubism and Expressionism. In Austria this style was known as Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity):
Franz Sedlacek, Storm, 1932:
Art after WW II: The Viennese School of Fantastic Realism, a variant of surrealist painting, is represented in the Upper Belvedere by Albert Paris Gütersloh, the co-founder of the Art Club. Other famous representatives of this movement are Ernst Fuchs and Friedensreich Hundertwasser:
Ernst Fuchs, “Moses and the Angel of the Lord before the Burning Bush”, 1956-57:
Friedensreich Hundertwasser, The Big Way, 1955:
Museum of Medieval Art - Middle Ages at the Upper Belvedere:
The Belvedere’s holdings comprise internationally outstanding works of Late Gothic sculpture and panel painting that give an overview of the most significant artistic developments of the International Gothic style from c. 1400 to the early sixteenth century. The works on view in the Upper Belvedere include exquisite sculptures exemplifying the so-called ‘Beautiful style’, as well as the impressive Znaim Altarpiece and works by Conrad Laib, the Master of the Altarpiece of the Abbey of the Scots in Vienna, Rueland Frueauf the Elder, and Michael Pacher:
Michael Pacher, Flagellation of Christ, 1497/1498:
Marx Reichlich - Visitation:
Andreas Lackner, Enthroned St Blasius with the Sts Rupert and Maximilian, 1518:
Baroque Museum: In the seventeenth century, it was primarily international artists who achieved great renown in the territory of present-day Austria. Only towards the end of the century can one begin to speak of Austrian painting of the High Baroque, which nonetheless was marked by a strong Italian influence. Among its prominent representatives, besides Martino Altomonte, are most notably pupils of the German-Venetian Johann Carl Loth, including Johann Michael Rottmayr, Hans Adam Weissenkircher, Johann Carl von Reslfeld, and not least Peter Strudel, who was a celebrated painter in his day and founded a protoacademy to ensure that young artists received an education. This academy, which engaged specialists from every genre, later became the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. From the eighteenth century onwards, the art of the Habsburg Empire was marked by the influence of the Vienna Academy, where painters like Jacob van Schuppen, Martin van Meytens, Paul Troger, Friedrich Heinrich Füger, and Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder were active as either professors or rectors. One of its foremost graduates was certainly Franz Anton Maulbertsch, whose expressive style broke with tradition and who later gained great popularity.
Jacob van Schuppen, Prince Eugen von Savoyen in the Battle of Belgrade- year 1717:
Paul Troger - St. Sebastian and the women - 1746:
Classism – Romantic period – Biedermeier:
The collection of Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Viennese Biedermeier comprises paintings and sculptures from all over Europe dating from 1770 to the 1860s and beyond. Comprising 2,600 objects, this is the largest of the Belvedere’s collections.
The collection of art from the Viennese Biedermeier era – Biedermeier Realism to use the correct term – is famous, even internationally, for its scope and the many artists it features. In addition, the Belvedere houses masterpieces by some of the great names of this period, among them Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Friedrich von Amerling, and Josef Danhauser.
Jacques-Louis David - Napoleon crossing the Alps - 1801:
Friedrich Heinrich Füger, Artist's brother:
François Gérard - Graph von Fries with his wife, 1804:
Caspar David Friedrich - Rocky Ravine - 1822-3:
Joseph Anton Koch - Berner Oberland - 1815:
Johann Scheffer von Leonhardshoff - The Death of Holy Caecilia (1821):
Johann Baptist Reiter - painted Slumbering Woman - 1849:
Rudolph fon Alt, Stephansdon in Vienna, 1832:
Danhauser, Josef 1805-1845. "The rich spendthrift", 1836:
Anton Petter - Wenzel asks Rudolf of Habsburg to the body of his father Przemysl Ottokar - 1826:
Josef Danhauser - Die Romanlektüre - 1841:
Johann Michael Neder - The controversy of the coachmen - 1828:
Friedrich Gauermann, Lake Altaussee with the Dachstein Massif, c. 1827:
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 1793 − 1865:
Waldmüller is the most important Austrian artist of the nineteenth century. His name is always associated with the so-called Biedermeier era and yet his art reached beyond this period, both in date and in the realism of its images and the power of their pictorial messages. Indeed, the works that account for Waldmüller’s international acclaim – such as Corpus Christi Morning (1857) or Early Spring in the Vienna Woods (1861) – were painted long after the Biedermeier era.
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller - Early Spring in the Vienna Woods - 1861:
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, On Corpus Christi Morning, 1857:
The “Character Heads” by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt can be seen in the Upper Belvedere and I found them fascinating. Franz Xaver Messerschmidt was born in 1736 as Wiesensteig in Swabia. He studied at the Academy in Vienna. This was the start of an impressive career culminating in the monumental statues of Emperor Franz and Maria Theresia. In spite of his success, he was passed over for the Chair of sculpture at the Academy in 1774. Disappointed, he left Vienna. In his isolation, Messerschmidt began sculpting a series of works known after his death as “character heads.” He has begun them in around 1770-1772. It is likely that one source of inspiration for these was his Krohn illness he suffered from. The heads are like studies of the various expressions and reactions. Although Messerschmidt must have been a bizarre and solitary character, he was always a respected artist and was still sculpting portraits busts when he died in 1783:
Lower Belvedere - Unteres Belvedere - Prince Eugene’s apartments and staterooms: The palace was built from 1714 to 1716 and contains some magnificent rooms (Prunksaale) which are well preserved. Most of the Lower Belvedere rooms are open to visitors. Temporary showings and exhibitions are located in the lower Belevdere. Some of them might be a hit !
The Museum Shop in the Lower Belvedere:
The famous rooms are the: Dining Room, Mirror Hall and the Bedroom. The feudal splendor of the palace’s aristocratic owner is reflected in the Hall of Grotesques, the Marble Gallery, and the Golden Room/Cabinet. Intriguing special exhibitions are staged in the Lower Belvedere and the Orangery. Located at the bottom of the gardens, it's not as big or grandiose as the Upper Belvedere. The main reason being that the prince used it as his private living quarters, not for ceremonial events. It is flanked by the orangery and palace stables, both of which have now been turned into museum space. A visit to the Lower Belvedere includes a tour of the prince's gorgeous former residence, as well as access to special exhibitions (check in advance !). Once you enter, the Gold Cabinet‘s gold plated and mirrored walls, the Grotesque Hall with its rich ornaments, and the marble hall’s delicate white reliefs and display of baroque sculpture will prove otherwise.
The Marble Gallery:
The Gold Cabinet:
The adjoining Orangery, originally built to provide cover for plants during the winter, is now used for temporary expositions. The Orangery is a typically long-shaped hall with stone floors and high large windows that flood the room with light. It is regularly used for temporary exhibitions:
Palace stables – Medieval Study Collection: The stables once housed the prince's 12 finest horses: today you will find the Belvedere's entire medieval art collection here. The stables are home to the Schatzhaus Mittelalter - a museum of medieval art with a large collection of paintings and sculptures from the twelfth through the early sixteenth century.
21er Haus: The new "21er Haus" museum is not only highly interesting from an architectural point of view, but is also intensively engaged in Austrian art of the 20th and 21st centuries.The impressive building was constructed by leading architect Karl Schwanzer as the Austria pavilion for the World Exhibition in 1958 and opened as a museum for the art of the 20th century in Vienna in 1962. Today, the building known as 21er Haus and forming a part of the Belvedere, is used in an international context as a platform for Austrian art from 1945 to the present day. In addition to themed changing exhibitions and individual items, the new museum will also show the estate of the sculptor Fritz Wotruba and house the artotheque of the Austrian Federation. A cinema and a café-restaurant with terrace in the sculpture courtyard (designed by Adolf Krischanitz and Hermann Czech) supplement the offering. Architect Adolf Krischanitz adapted and remodeled Schwanzer's building for the re-opening in 2011. In 1958, Schwanzer received the Grand prix d'Architecture for the trendsetting and technically innovative design. Krischanitz has now excavated the basement and added a six-storey tower to the facility, which acts as a long-range signal:
The Palace Garden: Between the Unteres Belvedere and the Oberes Belvedere lies the Belvedere garden. It was laid out between 1700 and 1725 by Dominique Girard in the formal French style. The garden is decorated with numerous statues as well as fountains and cascades. The view from the top of the sloping garden towards the Unteres Belvedere is magnificent and explains its name - Belvedere - which is Italian for beautiful view. The garden has three levels, separated by two large cascades. The upper cascade consists of six basins flanked by statues. Large statues of sphinxes - symbols of strength and intelligence - decorate the upper levels of the garden. Even more statues adorn the lower cascade with a small waterfall. Classical statues of eight muses adorn the lower level. Statues along the staircase between the lower and middle part of the garden symbolize the twelve months of the year. You'll quickly feel far removed from the city and be impressed by the loveliness of the paths, the greenery, and the geometry of the grounds. The gardens present many great photographic opportunities with their fountains, statues and manicured lawns The gardens are free to walk through. They are open from dawn to dusk. They are not huge and can be easily walked.
In 1803, Europe's first alpine garden was created in the extensive park area of Belvedere castle following a suggestion of Archduke Johann. Today, more than 4000 plants represent the diverse flora of the alpine ecosystem. Spring and early summer are the best times to visit as many plants foliate and start to flower. The Alpengarten is right on the beginning of your downhill direction visit (starting at Gürtel Landstrasse, behind the Upper Belvedere) on the right side of the so nice ornamental pond, surrounded by flower beds, around the Upper Palace. The alpine garden charges an extra 3 euros fee:
View to the Upper Belvedere:
The descent from the Upeer to the Lower Belvederes. Mythological sphinxes, figures and cherubs adorn the fountains and stairways in the middle of the garden. Each cherub represents a month of the year:
Gardekirche, Rennweg - near (east to) the Lower Belvedere:
The middle of the Belvedere Gardens:
The Cascades between the middle of the Gardens and the Lower Belvedere:
View to the Gardens slope from the Lower Belvedere:
From the LOwer Belvedere - it is a 1.2 km, 20 minutes walk to Kärntner Str: Head northwest on Rennweg toward Veithg., 220 m. Slight right to stay on Rennweg, 35 m. Continue onto Schwarzenbergplatz, 450 m.
Turn left onto Schubertring and turn right onto Schwarzenbergstraße
230 m. Turn left onto Krugerstraße, 210 m. Turn right onto Kärntner Str. Right in the heart of the city, Karntnerstrasse runs from Stephansplatz up to the Opera, so it starts where Graben finishes. We entered the Kärntner Street - north to the State Opera House and the Hotel Sacher is on our left. The Kärntner Strasse Vienna (C2) exists since the Roman Age and was at that time known as -Strata Carinthianorum- an important connection from the center to the city wall. The 19th century was characterizing for the present shopping street. Only a few of the noble buildings, from that time, were not destroyed during the Second World War. In the year of 1974 the Kärntner Strasse was redesigned to a pedestrian zone according the plans or architects Windbrechtinger and Holzbauer. This new function of the street should be used by the citizens and tourists for shopping, strolling and lingering and this task was without doubt very well done. Today this pedestrian zone is a perfect place for shopping in the center of Vienna. There is a diversified mix of historical buildings, traditional shops and stylish flagship stores of international companies and two department stores, Steifl and Peek & Cloppenburg. There are even two large Swarovski stores a few metres from each other along the same side of the street. Shop opening hours: Monday - Friday: 09.00 - 19.00, Saturday: 09.00 - 18.00. An important Hotel on the street, is the Hotel Sacher (where Sacher Torte was first created) which is styled like a renaissance palace. The few eateries along Kärntner Straße are best avoided. One of the most notable buildings is the Palace Esterhazy, where a branch of the Casinos Austria is located in its historic rooms:
It can be quite crowded on Kaerntner Strasse during the day and it is better for strolling early or later on, during the evening, as I did.
We don't continue south to the OPera House or North to Stepansplatz. Instead we head north-west to Lobkowitzplatz. Head north on Kärntner Str. toward Führichgasse. Turn left onto Führichgasse, 94 m. Turn right onto Tegetthoffstraße, 50 m. Turn left onto Gluckgasse, 90 m. and you face Lobkowitzplatz: a fashionable square in Vienna. Turn left (south-west) along Lobkowitzplatz (Österreichisches Theatermuseum / Palais Lobkowitz is on your right). The Austrian Theatre Museum is housed in a palace originally built for a 17th-century count. The Lobkowitz Palace was the first important town palace built in Vienna after 1683. The central part with its big main portal was designed by Johann Fischer von Erlach, the great baroque architect. After several changes of possession the Lobkowitzs, a very musical family, took over the palace in 1745. From time to time the family kept their own band and promoted concerts. As Prince Lobkowitz was the dignitary of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the hall was given the name the 'Eroica-Hall'. During the Congress of Vienna, many magnificent balls and receptions were held at the palace. Continuing this tradition, we offer you the opportunity to stage events in one of Austria’s most beautiful Baroque palaces. The Eroica-Hall on the first floor is the ideal setting for all kinds of festivities and events, such as concerts and musical performances, book presentations or wedding ceremonies. Exhibits reflect the history of theater design from the Baroque era to the mid-20th century. Models show the first Hofburg theatre and Eroica-Saal, an important venue of Beethoven's work, along with important stage sets that made an impact on Viennese theater, including "Anthony and Cleopatra." The museum collection features thousands of sketches, drawings, paintings, etchings, costumes and models:
This is the view Looking towards the Albertina Museum:
Turn right onto Augustinerstraße and continue onto Josefsplatz (already explored in my "Vienna - from the Hofburg to the State Opera House" blog):
We continue our itinerary with the Augustinerkirche, Augustinerstraße 3 (sub-ordinate, No. 2 Tip) (on your left, west) and the Prunksaal (see sub-ordinate, No. 3 Tip). Both of them are around Josefsplatz.
Memento Park, Budapest 22nd district (Southern Buda) corner of Balatoni ut and Szabadkai utca. This is is a sculpture park dedicated to the large and impressive sculptures erected in the time when Hungary was a Communist country. It is a historical theme park with it’s different sights and sections: the Statue Park, photo exhibition and film showing. Situated on the edge of the city, it does require some effort and time to get to the park.
Weather: It can get very cold if visiting in the autumn-winter months so wrap up well. You can find shelter in the park's museum BUT NOT in the park itself.
Public transport: Public Bus Transport to Memento Park from “Kelenfold vasutallomas – Metro 4″ (see below - access to this Metro station) – with BUS No. 101 (see below) and 150 to Budateteny vasutallomas (Campona). Start time: MON - FRI every 10 minutes, SAT - SUN every 30 minutes. The ride to Memento Park is approx. 10-15 min. Day passes, BKK-tickets (prepaid: 350 HUF, on the bus: 450 HUF) and Budapest Cards are valid. The ride takes 40 minutes. You get the chance to see some of the places on the way where real Hungarians live, not just the tourist joints.
The M4 is a brand new metro Line in Budapest opened in April 2014.
It may seem a little chaotic until 2015 when the reconstruction works will be completed. The “Kelenfold vasutallomas" is the departure place of number 150 bus that takes you to Memento Park. The number 101 bus also departes from here to Memento Park but its service is only
available in the weekdays and after 13.00. Please Take a bus seat in the buses - preferably on the right hand side.
To access Kelenfold vasutallomas take one of the following metro stations: From Pest-side: - Keleti palyaudvar (Keleti Railway Station, Metro No.2), - Rakoczi ter (the grand boulevard, tram No.4 and 6.), - Kalvin ter (National Museum, tram No.47 and 49, Metro No.3), - Fovam ter (the Grand Market Hall, tram No.2). From Buda-side: - Gellert ter (Gellert Bath, tram No.18, 19, 41), - Moricz Zsigmond ter (tram No.61 from Szell Kalman ter), - Ujbuda Kozpont (Allee Shopping Center).
Direct Bus Transfer from Deak Ferenc ter: in the centre of Budapest (metro station: Deak Ferenc ter on the lines No 1, No 2, No 3). Bus departs from the stop bearing a “Memento Park” timetable, every day, (but 1st NOV - 31st MAR only SAT-SUN-MON, and every day 26th DEC - 6th JAN) at 11.00 (return at 13.00).
Opening hours: Every day from 10.00. till dusk. Prices: Adults: 1.500 HUF,
Students with ISIC CARD: 1.000 HUF. Budapest Card (-20%), Hungary Card (-33%).
Note: No context around every statue or exhibit. There's nothing else in the area - no restaurants, no bars, no public areas. Along ride to the park. It is a good idea to take the Deak Ferenc Ter direct bus which leaves at 11.00 every day - if you have 1/2/3-day public transport pass.
Memento Park is an open air museum dedicated to 42 monumental statues from the Communist period (1949–1989) that were removed from Budapest after the fall of Communism . There are statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. The park was designed by Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd, who won the competition announced by the Budapest General Assembly (Fővárosi Közgyűlés) in 1991. The project's architect said on this park theme: "This park is about dictatorship. but at the same time, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship". On June 29, the park celebrated a grand opening as a public outdoor museum. Above all - the park demonstrates the folly of an extreme ideology.
The second part of this park Witness Square which holds a replica of Stalin's Boots which became a symbol of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 after the statue of Stalin was pulled down from its pedestal in 1956. Year 2006 marked a new chapter in the history of Memento Park. A life-sized copy of the tribune of the Stalin Monument in Budapest was built in the Statue Park with the broken bronze shoes on top of the pedestal. This is not an accurate copy of the original but only an artistic recreation by Ákos Eleőd. In 2007 a new exhibition hall and a small movie theater were opened in the Witness Square of Memento Park. The photo exhibition called “Stalin’s Boots” in the exhibition hall takes the viewer through the history of the 1956 revolution, of the political changes of 1989-1990 and of Memento Park, with both English and Hungarian captions. In the barracks-theater one can see The Life of an Agent, a documentary on the methods used by the secret police, directed by Gábor Zsigmond Papp. The film is shown in Hungarian with English subtitles.
The main entrance:
Lenin statue by Pátzay Pál from year 1965 (bronze):
Liberation Monument (Felszabadulási emlékmű), Kiss István, 1971 limestone:
The Buda Volunteers Regiment Memorial:
The Republic of Councils Monument, Kiss István, Year 1969, bronze:
Monument to the Martyrs of the Counter-Revolution:
The Hungarian Fighters in the Spanish International Brigades Memorial:
Red Army soldier statue, Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl, Year 1947, bronze:
Stalin's Boots (all that was left after a crowd pulled the enormous statue down during the 1956 Uprising):
Stalin's Boots in Park Memento Museum:
While waiting in Újbuda-központ for the bus to Memento Park - you can make a short detour to the Allee shopping centre. Head north on Fehérvári út toward Október huszonharmadika u., 35 m. Turn right onto Október huszonharmadika u., 190 m. The Allee, Október huszonharmadika utca 8-10, is good for having coffee or a light meal (the Guru restaurant). A bit before the mall, you pass through the Locals Market (Vasarcsarnok), Október huszonharmadika utca, 1117 Magyarország. A brilliant place to see the locals shopping produce, and upstairs, real authentic local food and drink places, full of locals, with local prices and delicious food. The building itself is unique: a box - shaped building with an inner pyramid. The terraced stores are hidden. Vegetables, fruit, bread, meat, dairy products, cakes are not only available in the various stores, but they can be purchased from around 100 urban farmers. The upstairs bar offer food and drink, real Hungarian dishes (fried sausage, black pudding, stuffed cabbage) , not only nicer but cheaper than in restaurants. Mainly local people do their daily, weekly shopping here. Everyone is very friendly towards foreigners but please be aware: English is not spoken:
The bus passes through Bocskai út westward and arrives to Kosztolá nyi Dezső tér. On the right side there is a park with the Feneketlen tó (Lake without a bed) (bottomless lake) in the middle, which according to legend is very deep. In the wwest side of the park the famous Hemingway cafe'/restaurant.
The bus turns south to Vincellér utca. From there it continues north-west, turns more to the south and continues west along several busy streets. When it arrives onto Harasztos út - you see on your left the Amerikai katonai temető - a cemetery of American soldiers killed in Hungary during WW2. A monument is erected in the middle of the small park memorizes their glory. There are graves in the garden but the bodies of british pilots and american soldiers were brought back home by the end of 1946. This street continues as Brassó út. The bus continues southward alond Sasadi Utca. This street terminates at Budaörsi Way. In this bustling junction stood the statue of Captain Ostapenko until the late eighties. Ostepenko was a Soviet Red Army soldier. The memorial is now at Memento Park:
The whole area east to Balatoni street (Vőfély St, Kérő utca) is a typical So
viet housing buildings made with industrial pre-fabricated panels. They were built between 1972 - 1984. Approx. 20% of the Hungarian population still lives in concrete panel-type flats. The forced industrialization resulted in that the population moving to the cities from 1970s onwards, and this has caused housing shortages. To solve the problem - a sort of building technology had to be used which had to be a quick and inexpensive way to build homes. In many cases, the homes kitchen furniture, complete with bathrooms and cupboards were pre-fabricated in factories, and they were installed in buildings with concrete elements. Most of the flats are only of 1.5 - 2 bedroom homes. The buildings were normally surrounded by health and educational institutions, restaurants, service centers, which have been completely transformed into other uses. The result was a huge number of low level quality flats. Most of them are occupied by low-level income people:
More eastward is the Kelenföld vasútállomásmore Metro M4 (green) line station. A brand-new Metro station (opened in Spring 2014). With M$ line you can travel to/from Keleti railway station. Line 4 isn't connected to any other metro line. At Keleti pályaudvar, the station of line 4 isn't connected to line 2 via an underground passage, but just via the (partly open) mezzanine level. This is the departure place of number 150 bus that takes you to Memento Park. The number 101 bus also departes from here to Memento Park but its service is only available in the weekdays and after 13.00;
We head southward to Péterhegyi út. On our right we pass through Igmándi utca,
Őrmezei út and Bolygó utca,. WE turn eastward to Olajfa utca.
The surroundings are more rural:
We turn left (south) to Horogszegi határsor and ride southward along this street until its end. WE continue to the south along Tordai út. We continue southward along the Balatoni street, pass through the Elza utcai játszótér (small park of Elza Street)
and arrive to Memento Park.
Blenheim Palace - Part 2 (outdoor and indoor attractions): the Formal and Pleasure Gardens, the 'Untold Story' Exhibition.
Main Attractions: The Water Terraces, Italian Garden, Secret Garden, Churchill Memorial Garden, the Rose Garden, the Cascades, Lakeside path (or: river side walk), Pleasure Gardens, the 'Untold Story' Exhibition.
We start Part 2 of the Blenheim Place blog with the meticulous formal gardens. There is a daily tour (if weather permitting) that "covers" all five parts of the formal gardens: Water terraces, Italian Garden , Secret Garden, Rose garden and Churchill Memorial garden. It starts at 11.30 and lasts for approximately one hour. Book your place at the Visitor Centre (beyond the East Gate).
The 4th Duke of Marlborough brought Capability Brown and William Chambers to make major changes to Palace Park and Gardens. The 5th Duke of Marlborough who was an avid horticulturalist developed extensive gardens. These are all sadly lost except for the Rose Garden recently restored by the present (12th) Duke. Most of the formal gardens were added by the 9th Duke of Marlborough in the 1920s, with help of the French Landscape Architect Achille Duchêne.
Almost all formal gardens are recently restored: The Water Terraces, , the Italian Garden, the Secret Garden, the Rose Garden and Grand Cascade.
It took five years, from 1925 to 1930 for the Water Terraces to be built and involved an immense amount of planning. The three terraces in the Water Terraces of Blenheim Palace are reminiscent, on a smaller scale, of the Versailles Gardens. Achille Duchene, the famous French designer built and restored over 6000 gardens, mostly in France. Blenheim was his only significant project in England. Built between 1925 and1930, the juxtaposition of the palace and the two levels of the Water Terraces opening up on to 'Capability' Brown’s lake landscape is a breathtakingly good piece of design. Duchene didn’t get it all his own way.The 9th Duke of Marlborough, his client, insisted that the number of fountains be substantially reduced and counterbalanced with pools of still water. This makes the transition to the Brown landscape more subdued than it might otherwise have been. On this very spot, in the Terrace Gardens, brief scenes were filmed for the 1995 movie Restoration, starring Robert Downey, Jr., Sam Neill, Meg Ryan, Ian McKellen, and Hugh Grant.
You can dine at the Water Terrace Cafe' and Champagne Bar (a bit expensive, the terraces outside are beautiful setting for your lunch):
The Italian Garden is the 10th Duke of Marlborough’s private garden. It can be seen by a public walkway. Clipped box and yew form the structure of this garden which is both formal and architectural.
Found in the Italian garden is the "Untitled" sculpture by German artist Georg Baselitz. It is a contemporary response to Antonio Canova’s sculpture The Three Graces (1814-1817), reinventing the iconic mythological trio. Unlike Canova’s depiction, Baselitz’s maidens are monumental, rough-hewn and faceless, their bodies carved in a manner which recalls African sculpture, evoking the primitive line of early Modernists such as Picasso and Braque:
Blenheim Palace - a view from the Italian Garden:
The Secret Garden was originally the 10th Duke of Marlborough's private garden but was restored under the auspices of the 11th Duke as part of the Battle of Blenheim tercentenary celebrations in 2004. This newly renovated garden lies to the east of the South Lawn. In contrast to the formal gardens, because it has an informal style, and sweeping parkland. The garden has been designed to look interesting all year round with foliage (leaves) of different shapes, colors and size. The garden does not have many flowering plants.It also is a secluded area which leads you down paths over bridges and to the tranquil stream. There is a small cascade and several pools with water running continually between them. The best month for visiting this garden is March-April. There are 10,000 bulbs in the ground that flower in these months. There are several Blue Cedars in the garden:
The circular Rose Garden is equipped with arched hoops that support climbing roses. A central statue is surrounded by symmetrical beds of roses which form a delightfully-scented display of floral beauty:
Andalucian Stallion - sculpture of Hamish Mackie near the Rose Garden:
The Churchill Memorial Garden (designed by Kim Wilkie) has a 90-metre path dotted with milestones from the glorious biography of Sir Winston Churchill (1900 - MP, 1901 -= Edward VII Crowned, 1905 - Under Secretary of State, 1908 - Marries Clementine, 4th August 1914 - WWI begins, 1911 - Becomes First Lord of the Admiralty, 11th November 1918
WWI ends, ..... 1965 - Buried at Bladon), an Oscar Nemon bronze bust and very young (still not blooming) of selected flowers. Halfway along the granite path with these milestones - there is a bench, plinth and Churchill bust. In the words of Kim Wilkie: "Churchill was enormously fond of Blenheim Palace and it is an honour to design a memorial for the great man within the Palace grounds he loved so much":
Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965):
A tarmac path leads the visitors from the Rose Garden to the Cascades. The gardens aren't that packed, probably, because they are huge. It's impossible to get crowded. BUT, here, in the cascades - you have to queue for photos of the waterfalls though.
Grand Cascade and Pump House:
From the cascades - there is a VERY CLEAR SIGNAGE for the short walk (1/2 hour at most) along the river. You'll thoroughly enjoy your lazy walk westward by the river. It is so romantic and everything is so green and quiet. On your right (part of the path) - you'll notice interesting ironworks and Wisteria branches. The trail might be a bit slippery - if there is fine rain during your day of visit. Avoid it - if it is raining heavily !
Lakeside path. The Boathouse Best wildlife and fauna seen from here...:
Immediately, beyond the boathouse - you'll notice the palace silhouette on your right. We climb, again, to the palace through the water terraces.
The next OUTDOOR section - is more suitable for children. A miniature train, a great favourite with all ages, connects the Palace to the Pleasure Gardens. The railway operates daily from February until October at half-hour intervals and at weekends only between November and December. The diesel locomotive, pulls three canopied carriages and can reach a speed of 12 mph. One carriage is wheelchair accessible. The fee - 50 pence. Train Times: From the Palace: First train 11.00 and then on the hour and half hour, last train 17.10.
The Pleasure Gardens, where a range of fun activities for children, are located including the Marlborough Maze, the Butterfly House, the Lavender Garden, Adventure Playground and Blenheim Bygones exhibition. This area is more oriented for families. The maze is the world’s second largest symbolic hedge maze, designed to reflect the history and architecture of the Palace. The maze covers an area of just over an acre (0.4 hectare) and has two high wooden bridges which provide perfect vantage points. Within the maze area is a model of a Woodstock street, putting greens, as well as a giant chess and draughts set.
The Butterfly House is a temperature-controlled greenhouse containing butterflies and plants native to their environment. In the Butterfly House, exotic tropical butterflies can be seen in free flight. The special hatchery contains the pupae of many of the species, bred on site, so at Blenheim, it's possible to study the full life-cycle. More exotic butterflies can be seen, depending on the season:
The Adventure Play Area is a purpose built wooden play area including plank bridges to run across, ladders to climb, swings and slides to enjoy:
The whole property is well protected by its enclosing wall:
After exploring the formal and pleasure gardens - we return to the Blenheim Palace - to complete its (free) indoor attractions. You can lunch, at this point, for example in the Water Terrace Cafe' (Indian Room). It cost me £11.05 for baked salmon + potatoes and some vegs. Tasty and filling. Indian themed murals and views of the Water Terraces provide an elegant setting for your afternoon meal.
This section is much different. This part starts with the palace stables and continues with the second floor of the palace and the 'Untold Story' exhibition.
Many of Churchill’s decisions were influenced by his love of horses, a love that began when he was a very young child. He first learned to ride while visiting with his grandparents at Blenheim Palace. Later, in his book 'My Early Life', Churchill described the cavalry training he underwent as a Recruit Officer after leaving Sandhurst: disciplined, demanding drill in the Riding-School, at the Stables and on the Barrack Square.
The lion's share of the stables is devoted to the Churchills' Destiny exhibition. 'Churchills' Destiny' tells the story of two great war leaders and explores the story of two great war leaders' - highlighting the fascinating parallel lives of Sir Winston Churchill and his much admired ancestor John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Open: daily from 10.00 - 17.30. Free:
Churchill, Hero's Funeral (24 JAN, 1965):
There is Indoor Cinema, located in the Stables Courtyard. The indoor cinema shows a variety of documentaries and films about Blenheim Palace, and offer an alternative experience to the 'Untold Story' (see below) for wheelchair and buggy users. Daily from 10.00 - 17.30. Free.
The Grand Court from the Stables Court:
The 'Untold Story' is an exhibition that takes part in the second floor (ask the staff members - how to climb to the 2nd floor. It is NOT straight-forward... Upstairs, you'll discover more than 300 years of captivating stories from the Palace’s past in this animated and interactive visitor experience. This exhibition is not accessible for wheelchairs. The Blenheim Palace Trust wanted to create an alternative to the existing tour of the palace staterooms. They wanted to exhibit history in a more intimate way, often seen through the eyes of servants and staff. Outside a room with a video screen that gives you an introduction to the inhabitants and the story of the building of this monumental structure. Grace Ridley, ladies’ maid to the first Duchess of Marlborough, transcends time to lead visitors from 1705 to the present, introducing them to Dukes, Duchesses and servants in bedrooms, corridors, boudoirs, a theatre, a laboratory and Blenheim’s sumptuous Great Hall. 11 rooms are transformed into theatrical sets and exhibition spaces, to allow visitors to enjoy the 300 years of history Blenheim has witnessed. After the video, an automated door opens and you step through it into a room that looks like a movie set. The doors close behind you and animatronic figures come to life and enact sections of the early history of the palace. Each segment is about 5 minutes long, and at the end of each vignette, the doors on the opposite end of the room open and you move onward to the next room. Some rooms have museum exhibits that you can linger at, others have cross-overs between animatronic displays and videos. The entire attraction takes about 45 minutes. Note: you are trapped in a 40 minute controlled tour, which is tedious and quite sticky. It consists of period rooms and a "ghost' character guiding you along. No way for retreating back or forward...
18 JUN 1705 - Laying the Foundation Stone of Blenheim Palace:
Blenheim Palace Theatre - year 1789:
John Churchill - 1st Duke of Marlborough. Married with Sara Jenings in 1677-8. Formerly, he had love affair with Barbara Villiers (famous lover of King Charles II). He got the Dukedom from Queen Anne in year 1702:
To leave the palace - you have to pass through two gift shops to get out to the Grand Court. You have to return to the Inner Court, walk through the East Gate and walk 10-15 minutes to return to the Woodstock road to catch your Gold Stagecoach S3 bus back to Oxford.