"Strolling in the City Centre - Part 1" Top 5 Page for this destination Vienna Travelogue by longsanborn
Vienna Travel Guide: 7,362 reviews and 18,244 photos
The Innere Stadt (Inner City), an area surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped wall that confined the city until the 1850s, is the heart of old Vienna. In 1857 the wall was destroyed and replaced with a boulevard called the Ring-strasse (Ring Street) with magnificent new buildings, which was intended to symbolise the wealth of Vienna.
Along this boulevard there is a collection of buildings of various styles. The University of Vienna (originally founded in 1365) was rebuilt in a neo-Italian Renaissance style; across the park is the City Hall (Ratshaus), a neo-Flemish Gothic structure. The State Opera House (Stadtsoper) is reminiscent of early French Renaissance buildings.
Within the Innere Stadt is St. Stephen's (St. Stephans-kirche), a Gothic cathedral first built about 1135 and rebuilt, following a fire, during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Let's start the stroll from one of the biggest tourist attraction, i.e. the Michaelerplatz, an area which is part of and located behind the Imperial Palace (local name: Hofburg).
The foundations of a Roman settlement and remains of the walls of the "Paradiesgartls" (Garden of Paradise) were unearthed during the course of archaeological digs carried out by the Vienna city authorities in 1990-91 when the Michaelerplatz square was being redesigned.
The Viennese architect and designer, Hans Hollen, described the excavations in 1991 as "a display window of Vienna's history" and built a stone wall around them which, while protecting the historic remains, does detract somewhat from the elegance of the square.
From Michaelerplatz, make your way to Café Central, one of the oldest coffeehouse in Vienna. It is located in the Innere Stadt district at Herrengasse 14 in the former Bank and Stockmarket Building.
The café was opened in 1860, and in the late 19th century it became a key meeting place of the Viennese intellectual scene. Until 1938 the café was called the "Chess school" (Die Schachhochschule) because of the presence of many chess players.
The Vienna Circle of logical positivists held many meetings before and after World War I. The café closed at the end of World War II.
In 1975, the Palais Ferstel was renovated and the Café Central was newly opened, however in a different part of the building. In 1986, it was fully renovated once again.
Today it is both a tourist spot and a popular café marked by its place in literary history.
Because I am curious to find out what's the hype is all about, I entered Cafe Central to see around. I ended up staying for over an hour, having a cup of coffee and a cake, to absorb the ambience of the old coffee culture.
The service was slow but the live piano music was nice and I got to watch people do their thing.
Leaving Cafe Central, I made my way to the Graben street (der Graben) and passed by this beautiful but small church called Peterskirche.
The Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) is the second-oldest church in Vienna and the city's finest example of Baroque church architecture. St. Peter's is thought to occupy the oldest Christian sacred site in Vienna, as a church has stood here since the second half of the 4th century. According to legend, Charlemagne founded a larger church here in 792.
Squeezed into a tight spot on Petersplatz, the Peterskirche is one of the most decorated Baroque church in the city. The interior contains notable artwork from the early 18th century, including frescoes, gilded carved wood and altarpieces.
Among the most notable artworks are the glass-crowned galleries high on the walls to either side of the altar, the tableau of the martyrdom of St. John Nepomuk, and the fresco in the dome by J. M. Rottmayr depicting the Coronation of the Virgin Mary.
Unfortunately, the dim light and years of accumulated grime make the interior rather gloomy and the details of the dome fresco difficult to make out.
Der Graben (in German, literally, "the trench") is one of the most famous streets in Vienna's first district, the city centre. It begins at Stock-im-Eisen-Platz next to the Palais Equitable and ends at the junction of Kohlmarkt and Tuchlauben.
Another street in the first district is called Tiefer Graben (deep ditch). It is crossed by Wipplinger Strasse by means of the Hohe Brücke, a bridge about ten metres above street level.
Along the Graben, there are several cafes that set up their outdoor business under big umbrellas and colorful tables and chairs. The best place to watch people and see the tourists and crowds do their silly things.
At the same time, you can also enjoy the free music played by music students playing outdoors.
Along the Graben, you can find the plague column (Pestsäule), built to mark the end of the infamous Plague, which killed thousands of Europeans including Austrians.
The Pestsäule is one of the most well-known and prominent pieces of sculpture in the city.
After having my coffee and drinks at the Graben, I decided to go home via the underground train U-1 station at Stephansplatz. Along the way, I passed by the Haas Haas building, a modern structure that caused much contravesy when it was first built.
The viennese were horrified at the thought of a modern building in the midst of the old traditional/historical buildings in Stephanplatz. However, the modern turned out to be OK and kind of blend in with the old ones.
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