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Sightseeing in Vienna

Most of the main sights in Vienna are concentrated in the old inner city known as the Innerstadt . These include the Hofburg (Imperial Palace), home to the Habsburgs during the winter months and now the Austrian President’s office. The Hofburg contains both modern and medieval structures - the central room inside the palace complex houses one of the most awesome Baroque showpieces anywhere. Walking around the expansive grounds, one comes across the famous Spanish Riding Stables where one can watch horses train (mid - February to June and November to mid - December). The Neue Berg (the new wing of the Imperial Palace) has a series of museums from one for musical instruments (one of which is Beethoven’s piano) to one of classical antiquity.

Designed by von Erlach is the splendid Schonbrunn Palace on the southwestern edge of the city, which is the site of state occasions, international conferences and historic treaties.

Also in the Innerstadt is one of Vienna’s most treasured symbols, St. Stephen’s Cathedral or the Stephansdom. The smoothly tapered South Tower of the Cathedral has become Vienna’s emblem and it is worth taking the trouble to climb its 343 steps to get a fabulous view of the city. A band of streets known as the Ringstrasse lines the Innerstadt and contains a big chunk of the city’s architectural jewels, including the Staatsoper, the Parliament House, The Museum of Art History and the City Hall. The Staatsoper (State Opera House) was destroyed in World War II, but was rebuilt and re-opened in 1955. The best way to admire its fabulous gold, crystal and red -velvet interior is to see an opera inside.

Outside the inner city and the Ringstrassen lies the old suburb that contains the Belvedere Palace and the Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles) also built by the great Austrian architect von Erlach.

Gustav Klimt's famous painting, The Kiss, is displayed in the Belvedere. Of the museums worth seeing in Vienna, the Albertina houses art by some of the greatest masters such as Rembrandt, Michaelangelo and Correggio. The Museum of Fine Arts boasts of works by Durer, Titian, Raphael besides housing the largest collection of Bruegel.

The Freud Museum is where Sigmund Freud developed modern psychiatry and treated his first patients, although the famous (or infamous?!) original couch is missing! The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Museum of Military History) houses impressive items like the armour and Turkish tents confiscated from the Turks during the 16th century siege of Vienna, as well as fighter planes and tanks. The best piece here perhaps is the bullet-riddled car in which the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were riding when they were assassinated in 1914.

Some of the remaining sights in Vienna include the Stadttempel the only synagogue of Vienna’s 94 temples to escape Nazi destruction in 1938, the fascinating clock – Ankeruhr - north of the Hoher Markt (an ancient cobblestone square) and the Schatzkammer or the Treasury (containing items like the crown jewels, the imperial crowns, and the imperial christening robes).


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