Vienna - from the Hofburg to the State Opera House

AUG 13,2011 - AUG 13,2011 (1 DAYS)

Citywalk

1/2 or 1 day itinerary from the Hofburg to the Wiener Staatsoper in Albertina Platz:

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Main attractions: MichaelerTor, Hofburg Innenhof,  Hofburg Schweizerhof, Hofburg Burgkapelle, Josefsplatz, Hofburg Prunksaal, Augustinerkirche, Redoutensäle, Stallburg, Hofburg Imperial Apartments, Hofburg Sisi Museum, Hofburg Imperial Silver Collection, Hofburg Schatzkammer or Treasury, Heldenplatz, Neue Burg, Burggarten, Palmenhaus, Albertina Museum, Albertina Platz, Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera).

Orientation: We ended our "From Maria-Theresien-Platz to Michaelerplatz" itinerary in the north-east entrance to the Hofburg - in Michaelerplatz. The MichaelerTor (the eastern, ancient gate to the Hofburg), is, exactly, where we start this itinerary:

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Start: Herrengasse U3 (U-Bahn) station.

End: Karlsplatz U1, U2, U4 (U-Bahn) station.

Distance: 4 km.

*** Hofburg - the Imperial Place:

The Hofburg in Vienna is the former imperial residence. From 1438 to 1583 and from 1612 to 1806, it was the seat of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, thereafter the seat of the Emperor of Austria until 1918. Today it is the official seat of the Austrian Federal President. Today the Hofburg consists of three museums which afford authentic insight into the traditions and everyday life of the Habsburg imperial court. It is the best place to visit, in Vienna, particularly on a rainy day.

a) The Imperial Apartments with their original furnishings and decoration.

b) The Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) Museum with its presentation of the empress' life.

c) The Imperial Silver Collection which contains a comprehensive range of tableware used at the imperial court.

Transportaion to the Hofburg: Underground: U3 (orange), stop at Herrengasse, From the Meidling train station - take the U6 (brown) underground line and alight Westbahnhof and change to the eastbound U3 (orange) underground line and stopt at Herrengasse.
Trams: 1, 2, D and J, stop at Burgring
Bus: 2A and 3A, drop off at Hofburg.

Opening hours: The Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Silver Collection are all open daily, including public holidays:
September to June 09.00  to 17.30.
July and August 09.00 to 18.00. Last admission one hour before the ticket office closes.

Café Hofburg: Opening hours daily from 10.00 to 18.00.

Prices (including audio guide in 13 languages) : Adult - € 11,50 €, 
(combined ticket with the Schönbrunnn Palace - € 25,50), Children (aged 6-18) € 7,00 (€ 15,00), Students (aged 19-25) € 10.50  (€ 23,00), Disabled persons € 10,50  (€ 23,00 ), Vienna Card € 10,50 (€ 23.00).

Guided tours:
Standard guided tours of the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments  used by Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth: Daily at 14.00.
Duration approx. 55 minutes. Admission charges: Adults € 13,50, Children (aged 6-18) € 8,00, Reductions (Students, Vienna Card) € 12,50.

Touring the Palace exterior: We start our visit in the Hofburg in the MichaelerTor entrance (north-east side of the Imperial Palace complex) and exit the Hofburg from its north-west side in the Ballhaus platz. The tickets office is in the south-east side of the palace and the entrance is, also, in the north-east side (adjacent to Michaelerplatz). The Michaelertor, which is a very beautiful Baroque gateway, that connects Michaelerplatz (St. Michael's square) to a large courtyard referred to as the Innenhof. On the west side stands the Amalienburg (see later) which is my preferred building because of its nice late Renaissance style. Once (16th c.) it was a free-standing building opposite the older Schweizertrakt (Swiss courtyard). It has a small tower with a dome and an astronomical clock on the façade. Inside are the Imperial Apartments and the Sissi Museum. The monument in the centre is the bronze statue from 1846 of Emperor Franz II . He is represented as a Roman Caesar emperor even if he suffered several defeats by Napoleon (like in Austerlitz). Here stands the statue of Francis I in the Inner Castle Court (innerer Burghof) by Pompeo Marchesi. The monument shows the emperor in classical Roman attire set atop a tall plinth, surrounded by four other statues:

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The emperor looks in the direction of the Schweizertor,

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an old gate which leads to Schweizerhof (Swiss Court), the inner courtyard of the oldest part of the imperial palace. The vast complex of buildings went through five major stages of constructions over six centuries. To follow the course of its development, continue right onto the middle at the Schweizerhof, named after the Swiss guard that used to be housed there:

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The Burgkapelle (Castle Chapel) tucked awayin the northern corner of the Schweizerhof, was built in year 1449.Originally Gothic, it was rebuilt in Baroque style and partially restored to its original form in 1802. The Wiener Sangerknaben (Vienna Boys' Choir) sing Mass here every Sunday morning (except: July, August and September). The Burgkapelle is directly above the entrance to the Schatzkammer or Treasury (see later - the Hofburg museums interior). It was built in the 1440ies under the rule of Friedrich III, the first Habsburg to become Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This makes the chapel one of the older, but not the oldest part of the Hofburg in general:

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An archway connects Schweizerhof with Josefsplatz, a square graced with a statue of Joseph II, created in 1807 by Franz Anton Zauner. Josefsplatz (Joseph Square) is at the south-east corner of the Hofburg. Of note is the equestrian statue of Emperor Joseph II by Franz Anton von Zauner at the center of Joseph Square. It imitates the statue of Marcus Aurelius on Capitoline Hill in Rome. The statue was commissioned by Emperor Francis II who, from the age of 16, had been raised under the supervision of his uncle, the Emperor Franz Joseph II. The depiction of Franz Joseph II as a Roman conqueror, dressed in a toga and a laurel wreath, reflects the Habsburg belief that they were descendants of the ancient Roman emperors:

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The square is enclosed on three sides by famous sections of the Hofburg Palace. In the south-west side is the Prunksaal (State Hall), the central structure of the Austrian National Library, which is part of the Hofburg Palace complex—a fine example of late Baroque architecture on a grand scale. The building was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, with side wings later added to the designs by Nikolaus Pacassi. This grand Baroque library, at around 80 metres long, has impressive domed and marble interior, with giant bookcases and many frescoes. Opening Times: TUE - SUN 10.00 - 18.00 ( THU to 21.00). Entrance Fee: 5 Euro:

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To the south is the Augustinian wing of the Austrian National Library and the Augustinerkirche (Augustinian Church), the oldest building on the square. In fact, following Augustinerstrasse from Josefsplatz brings you past the Augustinerkirche. Here Maria Theresa married Francois of Lorraine in 1736, Marie-Louise married Napoleon in 1810 and Franz Joseph married Elizabeth in 1854.

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In the north-west side and facing the Augustinian Church is the Redoutensäle (Redoubt Hall), which was added to the Hofburg complex between 1744 and 1748. The Redoutensäle was badly damaged by fire in 1992:

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In the northwest corner of the square is the Stallburg (Stable Palace), the former Imperial Stables, which once housed around nine hundred Lipizzaner horses. Built in the sixteenth century for Archduke Maximillian, the Stallburg housed the art collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm between 1614 and 1662. The building was later converted to stables for the Hofburg, surrounding a large courtyad with arcades on three levels with large chimneys. Today the Stallburg houses the Spanish Riding School and the Lipizzaner Museum.

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We turn, now, to the Hofburg museums interiors. We'll explore the three museums and, later, return to the newer wing of the Hofburg exterior - the Neue Burg.

Hofburg Interior:

Until 1918 the extensive palatial complex at the heart of Vienna was the political centre of the Habsburg empire and monarchy. In the Hofburg Emperor Joseph II drew up his revolutionary programme of reforms, the Congress of Vienna met and danced and where Emperor Franz Joseph held audiences. The Hofburg was the residence of the Habsburgs for over 600 years and thus the centre of the Holy Roman Empire. Apart from its function as the seat of government and administrative centre, the Hofburg was also the winter residence of the imperial family. From the 18th century onwards the court spent the summer at Schönbrunn Palace. The nineteen rooms in the Imperial Apartments (Kaiserappartements) were occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth, comprising studies, residential suites and reception rooms. They are all furnished and decorated to the highest standards of historical authenticity, Visitors to the Imperial Apartments will gain an insight into the world of Austria's most illustrious imperial couple.  The Imperial Apartments form a fascinating contrast to the exuberant splendor of imperial summer residence at Schönbrunn. Court ceremonial dictated that each member of the family had their own apartments or suites in one of the numerous palace wings. Today the imperial complex fulfills the same role for the democratic Republic of Austria. Now, part of the palace houses the offices of the Federal President, the ministers of the chancellor's office and the secretaries of state. The other part - the Imperial Chancellery Wing and the Amalia Residence, which contained the apartments of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth, are today open to the public. A wonderful insight into the living arrangements of one of the richest and most powerful European dynasties. The fittings and furniture mostly date from the second half of the 19th century, but the majority of the ceramic stoves are part of the original 18th-century fittings. These stoves were fired by court stove-stokers from special parallel "heating" passages in order to avoid making the rooms dirty. From 1824 pipes for heating the stoves with hot air were installed. The chandeliers of Bohemian lead crystal were made by the firm of Lobmeyr and held candles until the end of the 19th century, when electricity was installed in the palace.

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The Sisi Museum is dedicated to Elisabeth who was Franz Josesef's wife. Elisabeth, who's nickname is Sisi, was mysterious, narcissistic, beautiful and mostly silent. Sisi was non-conformist who abhorred conventional court protocol and was a free spirit. Following the suicide of her son Rudolf (famous Mayerling love affair), she withdrew from public life. Nowadays Sisi is compared to Princess Diana, because of her beauty, her estrangement from her husband and her tragic death. As it is known, Sisi was murdered in Geneve/Switzerland, in 1898, by an Italian anarchist. The Sisi Museum conveys a broad web of Empress Elisabeth daily life: with numerous, partly very personal objects on display which afford fascinating insights into the official and private worlds of this unique woman. Here as in no other place the legend of Sisi becomes tangible. More than 300 items on display in the museum include parasols, boxes and gloves which once belonged to the melancholic Elisabeth, along with her beauty recipes, her death mask and the actual file used in her assassination, which is usually kept securely under lock and key. Further items include a reconstruction of the evening dress worn by 16 year old Sisi in 1854 before she left her home in Munich, and a replica of a section of her imperial railway carriage. She wanted no part of being part of the Royal Family but yet for all of Austria’s history, she is the most popular member of the royal family. Her myth started ONLY after her assassination. In 2009 the Sisi Museum was closed for renovation and partial remodeling. The display was extended to include some spectacular exhibits, including the reconstructed Hungarian coronation dress, the black coat used to cover Elisabeth after the assassination, mourning jewellery and the young Sisi on her swing. The guided tour adds a lot of juicy stories and gossip about Sisi life.

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In the Imperial Silver Collection magnificent dining services, centrepieces measuring up to 30 metres in length and exquisite napery give an impression of the lavish grandor of the imperial banquets and feasts. As far back as the 15th century, the Silver Chamber at the Habsburg court was supervised by a Master of the Silver Chamber who was responsible for administering fruit, bread, silver and tableware. Over the course of time the Silver Chamber gained in importance. Its various responsibilities were divided between the Court Kitchen, the Court Confectionery, the Court Linen Room, the Court Cellars, the Court Silver and Table Room, the Court Depot of Victuals, the Court Firewood and Coal Depot and the Court Light Room, that is, the offices that regulated the imperial household. After the end of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918 the court household was dissolved and the imperial holdings passed into the ownership of the Austrian Republic. While a number of items were sold off, the majority remained in the Court Silver and Table Room. Of these, a part remained in use for formal state banquets and dinners given by the republic while others were put on public view in the former offices of the Silver Room from 1923. After complete renovation and the adaptation of adjacent rooms that had once housed the Royal and Imperial Gobelin factory. the Silver Room was reopened in 1995 as the Imperial Silver Collection. Today around 7,000 items from the total of 150,000 in the collection's holdings are displayed over an area of 1,300 m².

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Tips: There is no cloakroom in the Hofburg: you must take your equipment with you all along the palace floors and rooms. Go early - as soon as they open, to avoid the big crowds and the large tourist groups. During the busy summer months - tour guides would park their groups in the middle of hallways and block many walk through spaces in the Hofburg palace and museum.  we recommend visiting in April or from September as the weather is still lovely and crowds are low. Note that the Hofburg treasury is not included in your ticket price. Bear in mind that the Schonbrunn Palace is partially similar inside to the Hofburg Imperial Apartments. This Audio / Guided tour starts with the china, silver, gold dining ware on the whole bottom floor. To some people, this part becomes easily boring with the endless display of crockery. In that case - just breeze through that part and start your in-depth visit in the 2nd floor of the palace...  If you are planning to visit the Hofburg and the Schönbrunnn Palace-  go first to the Hofburg and buy the "Sisi Ticket" which gets you into both locations and, here is our advice - lets you skip a frequently massive queue at the Schönbrunnn.

The Austrian Crown Jewels are kept at the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer) in the southern wing of the Hofburg Palace. It is even more impressive than the luxury displayed in the Kaiserappartements Imperial and royal regalia and jewels date from the 10th century to the 19th century. They are one of the biggest and most important collections of royal objects still in existence, and reflect more than a thousand years of European history. The Austrian Crown Jewels (Insignien und Kleinodien) is a term denoting the regalia and vestments worn by the Holy Roman Emperor, and later by the Emperor of Austria, during the coronation ceremony and other state functions. There are crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings, crosses, holy relics, and the royal robes, as well as several other objects connected with the ceremony itself. The regalia were normally kept in Nuremberg, and a smaller part in Aachen. With the advance of the French in the French Revolutionary Wars, they were taken away in 1796 and brought to Vienna for safety. They have remained in the Schatzkammer ever since, even after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The regalia briefly left Vienna when Hitler had them sent to Nuremberg in 1938. After the war they were found by American troops in a bunker and eventually returned in 1946. Opening hours: everyday (EXCEPT TUESDAY) 09.00  - 17.30. Prices: Adult -  € 12, Vienna-Card - € 11, reductions -  € 9.  Combined Ticket „Treasures of the Habsburgs“: KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, NEUE BURG & TREASURY (visit each one on 3 separate days): Adults: € 20. Audioguide: € 4 (!). Vistiors are enthusiastic about this exhibition and museum !

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Bust of Emperor Rodulph II:

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Heldenplatz is located south-west to the Hofburg and the Imperial Treasury. It is south-west to the In der Burg road which exits from the Hofburg. Heldenplatz (German: Heroes' Square) is a public space in front of Hofburg Palace where many important actions and events took place there along the history course of time, most notably Adolf Hitler's ceremonial announcement of the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany on 15 March 1938. In the huge square, there are two equestrian statues designed by Anton Dominik Fernkorn:

The statue of Archduke Charles of Austria, inaugurated already in 1860:

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The second statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy was inaugurated in 1865:

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In 1809, a part of the old bastion adjacent to the old castle was demolished in the course of the Napoleonic Wars. All the way up to the present Ringstraße, new grounds were laid, in which the neoclassical Castle Gate (Burgtor) was integrated. Within the new walls which were erected in 1817, three gardens were laid: the private Imperial Castle Garden (Burggarten), Heroes Square as a lawn with boulevards, and the People’s Garden (Volksgarten) with the Temple of Theseus (Theseustempel), which, along with the Burgtor, was designed by Peter von Nobile. A further addition from this period (already by 1804) is the Hall of Ceremonies (Zeremoniensaal) by Louis Montoyer, which at that time was a protrusion jutting out of the complex. Today it is fully integrated into the New Castle (Neue Burg) (see below):

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Neue Burg (the New Castle) is part of the Hofburg Palace complex. The most recent part of the Hofburg is the Neue Burg, an imposing wing built between 1881 and 1913 after designs by Gottfried Semper. It can be accessed from the Heldenplatz which is reached via a gate through the Leopold Wing coming from the Hofburg or via the Ringstrasse. It is standing south-east to Heldenplatz and north-west to the Burggarten (see below). Neue Burg is not only home to a number of museums but also contains the main reading room of the National Library. The curved building, Neue Burg, was built in 1913 - making it the newest addition to the palace complex. Today, the Neue Burg houses the Austrian National Library and a number of museums: Ephesus Museum (ancient relics from Anatolia in Turkey), Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments (Baroque and renaissance music instruments), and Collection of Arms and Armour (swords, helmets, crossbows etc.). Entrance to the three museums are included in the price of the Kunsthistorisches Museum entrance ticket !  The building is also worth a closer look with its many pillars, sculptures, and other details. The interior is also very beautiful, especially the elegant main staircase and the Armour exhibition. The items are so well preserved and so beautiful and the collection quite extensive. This is an amazing collection of crowns, robes and religious material. Opening hours: TUE- SUN 10.00 - 18.00, (THU 10.00 - 21.00). Closed: Monday. Prices: adult - 14 €, Vienna card 13 €, < 27 yr & > 65 yr 11 €, Free < 19 yr. Combined Ticket „Treasures of the Habsburgs“: KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, NEUE BURG & TREASURY (visit each one on 3 separate days): Adults: € 20:

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We head south, out of the Hofburg - where the Burggarten resides. The Burggarten is a former palace garden, located (south to) near the Hofburg. Today it is a pleasant public park with a number of statues and an elegant palm house. As we move to the Hofburg Garten - we see the south-west facade of the Hofburg palace:

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Vienna was still surrounded by a defensive wall, at a time when most cities in Europe had started to demolish city fortifications. The wall proved useless in stopping Napoleon from occupying Vienna, and in 1809, when Napoleon left, he demolished large parts of the defensive wall. This created space around the Hofburg, and part of it was used to create a private palace garden, the Burggarten. The garden was laid out in an informal English style. In 1918, with the fall of the Habsburg Empire, the park opened to the public. The most photographed statue in the Burggarten is undoubtedly the Mozart memorial statue (Denkmal), created in 1896 by the Austrian sculptor Viktor Tilgner. The monument, which was originally erected at Augustinerplatz but moved to the Burggarten in 1953 shows Mozart on a pedestal surrounded by musical instruments. Reliefs refer to Mozart's famous opera 'Don Giovanni. In May-June - beautiful giant peonies bloom in front of the Mozart statue.

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The solemn statue of Emperor Franz-Joseph I was created in 1904 and moved to its current location in 1957. A more classical equestrian statue shows Emperor Franz I, spouse of Empress Maria-Theresia.

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In the south end of the Burggarten there is a huge monument of Goethe. A Goethe society was founded in 1878 in Vienna and wanted a monument built of Goethe. Unfortunately, they had trouble raising the money, so it wasn't until December 1900, the monument was finally unveiled on the corner of Goethegasse/Opernring close to Ferdinand Schiller. It shows Goethe sitting majestically on a chair:

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The Burggarten is bordered to the north by the Palmenhaus, a magnificent glass palm house designed by Friedrich Ohmann in the Jugendstil style (the local version of Art Nouveau). The iron and glass structure was built between 1901 and 1907 as a greenhouse. Today the central part is home to a popular café:

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There are some lovely places to sit and eat if you buy something from a food cart nearby (cheap noodles).

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The left part of the Palmenhaus houses the Schmettlerlinghaus, a butterfly garden where you can see tropical butterflies and even bats. In the butterfly house you see, in the annual cycle, around 50 species of butterflies and more than 300 daily butterflies. Opening times:
April to October Daily 10.00 - 17.00, November to March Daily 10.00 - 16.00. Visit to the butterfly garden is highly recommended, especially for young children.

Intetior of the Butterfly House (Schmetterlinghaus-Burggarten):

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From the Palmenhaus walk south-east and from the Goethe statue walk nort-east - to exit the Burggarten from its east side (Goethegasse/Hanuschgasse. Cross Hanuscgasse from south-west to north-east and you face the Albertina Museum. Named for the son in law of Maria Theresa. This museum houses one of the largest and most important graphic works collections in the world. Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th-century art, some of which will be on permanent display. The Albertina was erected on one of the last remaining sections of the fortifications of Vienna, the Augustian Bastion. In early 1919, ownership of both the building and the collection passed from the Habsburgs to the newly founded Republic of Austria. In 1920 the collection of prints and drawings was united with the collection of the former imperial court library. The name Albertina was established in 1921. In March 1945, the Albertina was heavily damaged by Allied bomb attacks. The building was rebuilt in the years after the war and was completely refurbished and modernized from 1998 to 2003. The range of outstanding works at the Albertina span from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael through Albrecht Duerer, Rembrandt and Rubens to Lorrain, Delacroix, Manet and Cezanne. The collections of the 20th century include works by Magrit, Picasso, Schiele,Klimt and Kokoschka, as well as Andy Warhol and Rauschenberg. Another highlight of this museum are the Habsburg State Rooms, which are newly renovated and recently reopened to be viewed. The building interior itself is also a marvel to look at - especially the state rooms, open rotunda, grand stairway and the statues. Handsome, convenient, noble, no-hurried museum without glass cases in between. Quite expensive entrance fees. Wait for attractive temporary exhibitions. Opening hours: Daily 10.00 to 18.00, Wednesday 10.00 - 21.00. Prices: Adults - € 11.90, Vienna Card (Wien Karte) holders - € 9.70, Senior citizens (aged 60 and over) - € 9.90, Students with ID (up to age 26) - € 8.50. Photos allowed.

The cast statue of the Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II stands guard over Albertina Platz:

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The building in the back is the Opera house:

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View from the Albertina balcony to the Burggarten and the Schmettlerlinghaus:

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The lower level of Albertina Museum:

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Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) - Beggars and Cripples:

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The Painter and The Buyer (Maler und Käufer) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder ((1526/1530–1569), 1565:

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The White Horse "Gazelle" by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, 1881:

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House Among the Roses by Claude Monet, c. 1918:

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Egon Schiele - Female Lovers, 1915:

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William Kentridge: Five Themes:

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Litho print of Erzherzog Albrecht Stadler:

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Jakob Alt - Der Dachstein vom Plassen bei Hallstatt - 1825:

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Cornelis Hendrickszoon Vroom - Forest Road with Two Horse-Drawn Carts, c. 1638-1642:

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The Albertina Square is surrounded by the Vienna Opera House, the Albertina and well known coffeehouses. The tower and spire of St Augustin's Church is on the distant right.  Albertina platz and a walk-in sculpture of Albert Hrdlicka (1928-2009) against the Fascism and the Enslavement:

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The 'Stone of the Republic' bears excerpts from the declaration of reestablishment of the Republic of Austria in 1945:

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The Cafe Mozart, in the Hotel Sacher (east side of the square) , in Albertina Platz is famous for its traditional coffee culture:

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The Wiener Staatsoper, Opernring 2 (Vienna State Opera) is in the south side of Albertina Platz. Vienna is music and music is Vienna and it all happens here at the Opera House. The Neo-Renaissance style building was the first major building on the Vienna Ringstraße. Work commenced on the building in 1861 and was completed in 1869. owards the end of World War II, on March 12, 1945, the opera was set alight by an American bombardment.The front section, which had been walled off as a precaution, remained intact including the foyer, with frescoes by Moritz von Schwind, the main stairways, the vestibule and the tea room. The auditorium and stage were, however, destroyed by flames as well as almost the entire décor and props for more than 120 operas with around 150,000 costumes. Lengthy discussions took place about whether the opera house should be restored to its original state on its original site, or whether it should be completely demolished and rebuilt, either on the same location or on a different site. Eventually the decision was made to rebuild the opera house as it had been. on May 1, 1945, after the liberation and re-independence of Austria from the Nazis, the first performances were given. It was not until November 5, 1955, (after the Austrian State Treaty), that the Staatsoper could be reopened with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Karl Böhm. The musical tradition and history of this house always performed at a top level. World famous musicians managed the house: For example, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss ro also Herbert von Karajan. Also the musical cast of characters is, as usual, a conspicuous class of its own: beside Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko or also Maria Callas sung at the Opera of Vienna. The Wiener Staatsoper is one of the busiest opera houses in the world producing 50 to 60 operas per year and ten ballet productions in approximately 300 performances. It is quite common to find a different opera being produced each day of a week. As such, the Staatsoper employs over 1000 people. More than 50 productions are staged every year, and there is a performance nearly every day for ten months of the year. The orchestra fantastic. The productions beautiful. Year 2009 marked the 140th anniversary of the Vienna Opera House. The opera house also has an opera school for boys and girls between the ages of eight and fourteen, which takes place in the afternoons after regular school. The children are introduced to music theatre and the prospect of becoming opera singers. The company recruits singers for children's roles in its productions from this opera school. Twice every season there is a special matinee performance of the opera school. Immediately before each performance, cheap, standing room tickets are sold (€ 3 and you don't see so much). These are popular with all age groups, and now have an almost legendary regular clientele, which allegedly is merciless in showing its displeasure with a performance loudly and unambiguously, but is even louder in voicing approval. You can get standing room tickets for only € 3. They go (quickly) on sale 80 minutes before the show starts. Sometimes, it is definitely worth it. Sometimes, the standing option is unpleasant experience. If you get a Burgtheater card, any seat not sold within 24 hours of a performance will cost you 50 Euros. You can find out about the Opera productions and buy Opera tickets on-the-spot for many performances, just by going to the Burgtheater ticket office right near the opera, at #2 Operngasse.  The Wiener Staatsoper is closed from July 1st until August 31st. The state Opera offers subtitle machines in front of most seats (standing spots too) so you can read and listen to better follow the show. Great for Non-German-speaking tourists. Another option of visiting the stunning State Opera house: The doors are open an hour before performance starts, thus go early to walk around and take pictures. You can bring snacks and drinks with you - no one checks your bags in the entrance.

The building is much too distinctive and much too showy to be ignored when passing it. The building complex with the numerous side wings and ornaments is very fascinating. What is specially attractive is the State Opera House of Vienna at night because it is then illuminated from all sides. On the exterior a loggia façade enthralls with statues of muses on horseback. A triumphal arch is set prominently in front of the main roof. Above it is a shield flanked by eagles with the Habsburg-Lorraine coat-of-arms, topped by the Austrian imperial crown. The glassed in loggia boasts five bronze statues, such as Heroism and Fantasy, the tallest because it is the source of all arts. The water sprite Lorelei, whose beauty and song caused sailors to crash their vessels, is perched on top of a fountain on the front façade. Other statuary represents Love as a maiden with flower petals; Mourning who is in the midst of covering her face with one hand; and the wild-haired Revenge, armed with a dagger, ready for battle. Twenty coats-of-arms of states and provinces in the Austro-Hungarian Empire adorn the façade, too.

For online tickets make sure you use the official state opera house website which sells at face value and has a seating map from which you choose your seats. With other web sites - you'll pay hiked prices. Ticket agent add on at least 10-15 of euros. If you do take or reserve a tour, try to do it on a Sunday or a holiday, when you will have a better chance of visiting the stage. Best seats, for the most sought-after performances, will cost a bundle and must be reserved far ahead. https://www.culturall.com/ticket/isto/performance_schedule.mc?language=2

The Vienna State Opera offers guided tours. The approximately 40-minute tour includes the entrance foyer, main staircase, Tea Salon, Marble Hall, Schwind Foyer, Gustav Mahler Hall, and the auditorium (with a look at the stage). Guided tours are offered in the following languages:
English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Chinese. Tours cost €7.50. There are 2-4 guided tours in very specific days along the month. The Opera house is spectacular, well worth a visit but do try and see an opera while you are in Vienna. It is amazing. Pricey but well worth it for the experience. Dress up !You must see the exact days and hours in their web site: http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/Content.Node/home/opernhaus/fuehrungen/fuehrungen.en.php

Front of the Staatopera:Citywalk in , , visiting things to do in , Travel Blog, Share my Trip

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Carriages waiting in front of the Opera house (Fiaker Rundfahrten):

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Inlaid stone slabs memorizing famous composers in front of the Opera building:

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The State Opera interior: The staircase leading up from the main entrance to the first floor. The main staircase shows off seven allegorical statues made of marble, representing arts such as music, dance and sculpture. The painting on the ceiling, “Praise and Recognition,” depicts in vibrant colors a female figure gripping a roll of music and holding a trumpet and laurel wreath. Noone wants to take the elevator with this grand entrance...

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The capacity of the auditorium is now 2,284 instead of the previous 2,881. It offers 1,709 seats, 567 standing spaces, 4 wheelchair spaces, and 4 wheelchair companion seats. The traditional colors of red, gold, and ivory were used for the auditorium, and the large central chandelier was replaced for safety by ring of built-in ceiling lights made of crystal glass. The glass ring weighs about 3,000 kilograms and uses 1,100 bulbs. It is 7 meters in diameter and 5 meters high; it has space for a lighting stand and corridors for maintenance of the system. The safety curtain is decorated with the mythological scene in which Orpheus and Eurydice bid farewell to the underworld:

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The Foyer: The tour turns left at the top of the stairs and moves into the Foyer. There are 16 oil paintings from the operatic repertoire, including Beethoven’s Fidelio and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville displayed in this elegant room. A bust of the composer sits beneath each painting:

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Mahler worked here from 1897 to 1907. Today his piano is on display as is a modern portrait. But the most famous monument to Mahler is the bronze bust by Rodin, on display in the Schwind Foyer:

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There are two tearooms in the Vienna Opera. One displays the original tapestries by Schwind, and the other has more modern pictures made of inlaid stone. I am researching to learn more about the inlaid stone:

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Gustav Mahler Hall is dedicated for the rest of the spectators during opera reception and intervals. Gustav Mahler was apparently one of the most accomplished conductors and directors in Viennese history:

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It is 450 m. walk from the State Opera House to the Karlplatz subway station (U!, U2, U4). Head east on Opernring toward Opernpassage. Turn right at Opernkreuzung onto Kärntner Str. Walk 180-200 m. and turn left onto Karlsplatz station.

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