Vienna Things to Do Tips by breughel Top 5 Page for this destination
Vienna Things to Do: 3,208 reviews and 6,035 photos
Freyung with Schottenkirche.
The Freyung is one of the most pleasant squares of Vienna. Square is wrong because it is triangular, so let's call it a Platz. It is a quite nice ensemble of religious and civilian buildings, of excellent architecture. The monastery goes back to the 12th c. and is called Schottenkloster = Scottish Monastery although the monks were Irish. In that time these monks were called "Iro-Schotten".
Actually these monks did not come directly from Ireland but from the Cloister St. Jakob in Regensburg, Bavaria! This to end with the "Schotten" who are since 1418 Benedictine monks.
The Baroque church we see now is from 1648.
Opposite the church stands one of the nicest Baroque Palaces of Vienna the Palais Kinsky from 1717 build under the direction of the famous architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt.
As palace Kinsky is used for auction events, houses shops and a restaurant one can freely enter the building to admire the hall.
Another fine Baroque palace is Palais Harrach.
The first time I put feet on the Theresienplatz was in 1968 and I had no time to admire neither the monument nor the garden. I was on a business trip and had only 15 minutes between two appointments to run to room X to see the Bruegels.
Fortunately I could come back several times and spent more attention to the monument of Maria Theresa. Meanwhile I learned a bit more about one of the greatest and most clever sovereigns in Europe. She reigned from 1740 till 1780 but the monument is from 1888 more than a century after her death and ordered by Emperor Franz-Joseph I.
It is a very imposing monument by Caspar Zumbusch with a total height of 19 m, the statue oh the seated Empress is 6 m high. The total weight of the bronze statues is 44 ton. Not surprising that it is the most important monument of the Habsburg monarchy. Fifteen years were needed to finish it.
The project for the themes of the monument was provided by the historian Alfred Ritter von Arneth, who wrote an extensive monograph on Maria Theresa.
My favored sculptures are those of the "Feldherren" generals because I just find them the most elegant.
Beneath the monument is a cavity structure with pillars in order to spread evenly the forces over the ground. This cavity was used in 1945 by the Russian army to store weapons!
Belvedere - terrace with Sphinx
In a previous review "Good bye Klimt" I mentioned the fate of some Klimt's who went to the USA to be sold at auctions. I visited the museum before but was less impressed by the collections than by the architecture of the Upper Belvedere Palace itself.
Each time I'm in Vienna I like to reach the majestic wrought iron gates at the Gürtel Landstrasse and from there to start a walk downwards: first through the Alpengarten on the right side of the so nice ornamental pond, surrounded by flower beds, around the Palace and then the terrace leading to the Belvedere Garten and finally the Lower Belvedere.
It's from this terrace that one has a beautiful panorama on the centre of Vienna. My photo with the Sphinx is a classical. The Baroque palace complex was built between 1712 and 1723 as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy with Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt as the chief architect. I think it is a real architectural success if you look at the Palace from the upper side as well as from the lower side.
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. Both were assassinated in June 1914 at Sarajevo what started WW I and its 15 million deaths.
It is difficult to remember this when admiring the peaceful great water basin in the upper parterre and the stairs and cascades peopled by nymphs and goddesses that links upper and lower parterres.
Note that when you walk down the terraces the exit is on the right by the portico of the Lower Belvedere palace (free toilets inside) on the Ringstrasse.
Address: the baroque castle of Prinz Eugen
Josefsplatz - National Library.
Let's forget the statue of Josef II, an imitation of a Roman statue, and look at the various buildings showing a remarkable homogeneity making the Josefsplatz the most architectural homogeneous square of Vienna. Mostly thanks to the imperial court architect Nikolaus von Pacassi around 1760.
The main building is the "Österreichische Nationalbibliothek", National Library, from architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach in 1723 and continued by his son Joseph Emanuel.
Spectacular are the decors at the top of the façades. The sculptures are from Lorenzo Mattielli: a quadriga ridden by Athena, a gilded globe supporter by the usual Atlas on the left side and another globe supported by Gaia, the earth goddess, less usual, plus other statues representing sciences.
Opposite the National Library one finds the classic Palace Pallavicini and the renaissance façade Palace Palffy.
The building on the right has entrance to the Spanish riding school on the days with performances by the Lippizans. See my review Spanische Hofreitschule - Practical Info.
Founded by the Habsburgs, the library was originally called the "Hof-Bibliothek", Imperial Library. The library complex includes four museums of which the "Prunksaal" State Hall (1723), Papyrus Museum, Globe Museum, Esperanto Museum, as well as multiple special collections and archives. The entrance prices are rather high: 7 € for the Prunksaal but worthwhile for the décor; 5 € for the Globe museum.
Statue of Josef II
I fully agree with Nicolaitan, a fine connoisseur of art and history, that the statue of Emperor Josef II can be considered as a plagiarism of the original Marcus Aurelian equestrian statue exposed inside the Capitoline Museums with a recent copy exposed on the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome.
You can compare hereafter my photos of the original Marcus Aurelian equestrian statue and that of Josef II (1741 - 1790), the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresia, by Franz Anton Zauner inaugurated in 1807.
Actually this was the first statue from an Austrian Habsburg emperor standing on a public square and the people of Vienna started to grumble that "so much money had been spend and the Kaiser had to sit on a horse without saddle or stirrup!" The fact is that at the time of Marcul Aurelius (121 - 180 AD) Romans ignored the stirrup.
The Ankeruhr at the Hoher Markt.
By itself the Hoher Markt is not the nicest square of Vienna but it has two remarkable monuments: the Ankeruhr and the fountain "Vermählungsbrunnen".
The Ankeruhr, fully restored in 2005, is the attraction of the Hoher Markt. And it is a really surprising realization of the Art Nouveau - Jugendstil period.
The word "Anker", meaning anchor in German, is that of the insurance company (presently Helvetia) that bought at the end of the 19th c. parcels of this corner of the Hoher Markt to make it the "Ankerhof" seat of the company.
The bridge 7.5 m wide joining two buildings was decorated between 1911 and 1917 with a clock ( 4 m wide) built after the plans of the painter Franz von Matsch. The clock itself is adorned with mosaic ornaments. In the course of 12 hours, twelve figures or pairs of figures from the history of Vienna move across the bridge. Every day at noon, all figures parade accompanied by music from the various eras. This is the moment for the tourists to be on the Hoher Markt.
Special is the fact that minutes and hours move on a horizontal scale.
Before WW II, when the clock was damaged, the music was played by an organ with 1000 pipes (ref. doc. from Helvetia C°). Now the music is that from a record made in a Vienna church in 1978.
This year 2012 there wasn't much nice to see at the Am Hof square: works all over, the church "Neun Chöre der Engel" (Nine angel's choir church) hidden under a canvas and apparently closed.
Consequently no photos taken. We will have to visit the church another year.
The only thing we could see was the Feuerwher-Zentrale (Fire brigade) and we had seen them at work on a fire in a commercial building in the Rotenturmstrasse. See my tip under "warning and danger".
KHM -Neue Burg - Suits of armour.
Actually the KHM Vienna groups 8 museums in Vienna (6) and outside (2):
1° KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, the most important located at A-1010 Wien, Maria Theresien-Platz in the magnificent building from the end of the 19th c. (photo 1). See my review : KHM Architecture
This museum has FIVE departments:
- Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection .
- Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities (renovated museography) on the ground floor called "Hochparterre". See my review Greek-Roman Antiquities.
- The Gemäldegalerie - Picture Gallery on the first floor gets visitors from all over the world who come to see the most famous Bruegel the Elder collection. See my reviews : Paintings, Gemäldegalerie, P. Bruegel collection, Best of P. Bruegel, Bruegel Children's Games .
- The Coin Cabinet on the second floor .
- The Kunstkammer - Collection of Sculpture and Decorative Arts (ground floor) is presently closed. (See my tip from 2007 Kunstkammer) .
2° NEUE BURG at A-1010 Vienna, Heldenplatz, the second important KHM museum is a monumental wing of the Vienna Hofburg (photo 2) .
The Neue Burg museum has THREE departments :
- Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer presents magnificent suits of armour and ceremonial arms, one of the best and largest collections in the world. See my review Suits of armour.
- Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments .
- Ephesus Museum .
3° The Museum of Ethnology - Museum für Völkerkunde .
A-1010 Vienna, Neue Burg .
4° Austrian Theatre Museum .
Lobkowitzplatz 2, A-1010 Wien .
5° Museum of Carriages and Department of Court Uniforms .
A-1130 Vienna Schloß Schönbrunn .
6° Treasury .
Schweizerhof, A-1010 Vienna, Hofburg .
7° The Theseus Temple in Vienna's Volksgarten. See my review Theseus temple
8° Ambras Castle .
A-6020 Innsbruck, Schloss Straße 20 .
The KHM museums counted 1.3 million visitors in 2007. It is for Austria what Le Louvre is for France.
I would suggest to amateurs of art who are in Vienna only for a short stay not to miss the Kunsthistorisches Museum at the Maria Theresien-Platz. It is much better than the Hofburg; between Sissi and the Gemäldegalerie there is no hesitation possible.
Now a few practical informations about the two principal museums:
The KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM, with the paintings gallery (Maria Theresien-Platz) is open from 10 - 18 h from Tuesday till Sunday (Thursday till 21 h). Closed on Monday.
Open each day from June to August.
There are files. Actually there are two ticket offices (19th c. style) but it happens that visitors are queuing only at the one on the right, so check by pushing the left "Eintritt" door if that ticket office is open.
The décor of the cafeteria under the cupola is amazing; this is the most beautiful museum cafeteria in Europe ! See : Cafetaria
Price (2012): full 12€, with the "Wien-Karte" 11€, reduced 9€ (for <27 yr & >65 yr). Audioguide and cloak room are included. The ticket is valid for the KHM collections at the Neue Burg.
Free < 19 yr.
NEUE BURG, Heldenplatz, with the suits of armour and arms collection, is open from Wednesday till Sunday from 10 to 18 h. (Closed Monday and Tuesday). No lines .
Price: full 12€, with the "Wien-Karte" 11€, reduced 9€ (for <27 yr & >65). Free < 19 yr. Audioguide and cloak room are included.
Address: Maria Theresienplatz, Heldenplatz and others.
The Wedding fountain at the Hoher Markt.
The Wedding Fountain - Vermählungsbrunnen on the Hoher Markt close to the Ankeruhr is dedicated to the marriage of Jesus parents, Mary and Joseph. The statues of Mary, Joseph and the high priest stand on a pedestal in the middle; at the projections of the pedestal stand four angels and Corinthian columns supporting a baldachin.
Inaugurated in 1732 and built by Emanuel Fischer von Erlach the monument consists mainly of white marble figures by the Venetian sculptor Antonio Corradini and bronze. Before, between 1706 and 1725, there was a sculpture made of wood of Mary's marriage.
In 1732 the fountain was connected by a pipe to the river Alserbach. Damaged by bombing in 1944, the fountain has been restored in the years 1950 to 1955.
The magnificent mansions and palaces around the square were also destroyed in World War II. What was once a beautiful square in the K & K-time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy is now not so interesting except the Ankeruhr.
The "Heeresgeschichtliches Museum" is located outside the Centrum of Vienna at the Arsenal, Objekt 1 that is about 1 Km south of the Belvedere Palace-Museum. Unfortunately there is no public transport stop at the museum what may explain that there are not many visitors among the tourists.
"Heer" means Army (Land Forces) in German and Geschichte = history but the HGM is more than just a military museum showing weapons. It is quite interesting for the visitor who wants to learn something about the history of Austria over the last four centuries.
The visit starts with the upper floor with the terrible Thirty Years' War (1618–1648); the war against the Ottomans with the relief battle of Vienna in 1683 and Prince Eugene of Savoy.
Follow the reigns of Emperor Karl VI., Maria Theresa and Joseph II in the 18th c. c. and the wars against France called the Napoleonic Wars.
Then going down to the ground floor we arrive at Emperor and King (Kaiser und Köning or K & K) Franz Joseph I of the multi-ethnic state Austria-Hungary and the husband of the well known Sisi.
Much more important for Europe than Sisi was the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 of his nephew Franz Ferdinand leading to World War I and its 15 million deaths!
Three objects dominate this hall: The automobile, in which the heir to the throne Francis Ferdinand and his spouse were shot to death, the blood-soaked uniform jacket of the Archiduke, and the chaise longue on which he died.
It is the paradox of the touristic Vienna: a lot of fuss and visitors for Sisi at the Hofburg and so few visitors for the Sarajevo room at the HGM! See my review: Start of WW I
Two halls are dedicated to WW I and are followed by one hall dedicated to the Anschluss of Austria by Nazi Germany and WW II.
Outside there is a tank collection (have you ever seen the famous Soviet T34?) See my reviewTanks exhibition
and an important gun collection.
The architecture of the museum is interesting with the much decorated hall and staircase.
Open: Every day from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closing days: 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 1 November, 25 and 31 December
Regular Fee: € 5,10
Reduced Fee: € 3,30 Students, handicapped persons, Senior Citizens
Free admission on each first Sunday of the month.
Visitors until the age of nineteen have free admission.
Photo-Permission: € 1,50 (I never paid!).
To get there take the Underground/subway U1 to Station Südtirolerplatz. There is a bus the 69A that stops at 300 m (Arsenal stop) of the HGM. There are also tram lines 18, D, O on the Gürtel at 400 m of the museum. Don't forget your umbrella if it rains because the walk is on open ground.
At the building called Arsenal Objekt 1 on the Ghegastrasse there is a bar-restaurant on the right of the portico. Not bad.
Address: Heeresgeschichtliches Museum im Arsenal
Directions: Close to Suedbahnhof
More Reviews (11)
- See All Excellent Public Transport.
- See All Round up the bill.
- Feuerwehr at work.
breughel's Related Pages
Vienna Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "My birthplace & the place where I feel at home !"
- "VIENNA, AUSTRIA ~ MUSIC IS IN THE AIR !"
- "Vienna and its never-ending history"
- "Just More then Mozart, Strauss und Sacher torte"
- "VIENNA AND THE PASSION OF ART"
- "Still a city of dreams"
- "VIENNESE WHIRL"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Vienna
- Hotels in Vienna
- Transportation in Vienna
- Nightlife in Vienna
- Restaurants in Vienna
- Shopping in Vienna
- Warnings and Dangers in Vienna
- See All...
Explore the World
- New York State
- Sandakan Hotels
- Salt Lake City Hotels
- Annapolis Hotels
- Seaside Heights Hotels
Badges & Stats in Vienna
- 86 Reviews
- 216 Photos
- 0 Forum posts
- 17 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (37)
Have you been to Vienna?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Vienna
- Posted in Technical Help Forum "Re: New rankings"
- Commented on one of Jefie's Vienna travel pages
- Wrote a Review Most pleasant Freyung Platz. about Freyung in Vienna Things to Do
- Uploaded a Photo to "Most pleasant Freyung Platz."
- updated a Vienna Travel Page "VIENNA AND THE PASSION OF ART"
- Uploaded a Video to Vienna
Photos in ViennaSee All Photos (216)
Videos in ViennaSee All Videos (2)
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Paris Intro, 225 reviews, 505 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Rome Intro, 144 reviews, 368 photos, 5 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Vienna Intro, 86 reviews, 216 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Brussels Intro, 84 reviews, 127 photos
- London Intro, 58 reviews, 139 photos, 1 travelogue
- Venice Intro, 59 reviews, 138 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Krakow Intro, 58 reviews, 128 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Cannes Intro, 45 reviews, 88 photos
- Amsterdam Intro, 35 reviews, 96 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Ieper Intro, 42 reviews, 80 photos
Latest Vienna hotel reviews
- Pension Christina
- 39 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 28, 2013
- Marriott Vienna
- 467 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 21, 2013
- Grand Hotel Wien
- 249 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 12, 2013
- The Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel
- 443 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 22, 2013
- Austria Classic Hotel Nordbahn
- 202 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 22, 2013
- Hotel Imperial
- 282 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 19, 2013
- Pension Domizil
- 45 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 26, 2013
- Le Meridien Wien
- 914 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 22, 2013
- Austria Trend Ananas Hotel
- 181 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 7, 2013
- Pension Pertschy
- 179 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 11, 2013
- Hotel Kaiser Franz Joseph
- 61 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 10, 2013
- Pension Suzanne
- 378 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 20, 2013
- Eventhotel Pyramide Austria Trend
- 69 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 11, 2013
- Acura Hotel
- 41 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 20, 2013
- Hotel Austria
- 368 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 20, 2013
- Schonbrunn- 289 Reviews, 533 Photos
- Stephansdom- 231 Reviews, 455 Photos
- Ringstrasse- 172 Reviews, 277 Photos
- Hofburg- 225 Reviews, 469 Photos
- Belvedere- 167 Reviews, 292 Photos
- Hundertwasser- 109 Reviews, 207 Photos
- Oper - Staatsoper- 96 Reviews, 158 Photos
- Kunsthistorisches Museum - KHM- 53 Reviews, 124 Photos
- Karlskirche - St Charles Church- 91 Reviews, 155 Photos
- Giant Ferris Wheel- 45 Reviews, 74 Photos
See All Vienna Things to Do