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COMPARE VIENNA HOTELS

Vienna Austria

Vienna (German: Wien) is the capital of Austria. It is by far the largest city in Austria as well as its cultural, economic, and political center. As the former home of the Hapsburg court and its various empires, the city still has the trappings of the imperial capital it once was, and the Historic City Centre is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The area around Vienna has had a human population since at least the late Paleolithic: one of the city's most famous artifacts, the 24,000 year old Venus of Willendorf, now in Vienna's Natural History Museum, was found nearby. Vienna's history begins with the Romans, who founded it in the first century c.e. as Vindobona, one of a line of Roman defensive outposts against Germanic tribes. Vindobona's central garrison was on the site of what is now the Hoher Markt, and you can still see the excavations of its foundations there today.

Vienna hosted the Hapsburg court for several centuries; first as the imperial seat of the Holy Roman Empire, then the capital of the Austrian Empire, and later of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This tremendously influenced the culture that exists there today. Like Munich, its residents are formal, but with small doses of courtliness, polite forms of address, and formal dress attire. The residents of Vienna tend to be equally modern and old-fashioned.

Traditional Vienna is but one of the many façades of this city. Vienna is also a dynamic young city, famous for its (electronic) music scene with independent labels, cult-status underground record stores, a vibrant club scene, multitudes of street performers, and a government that seems overly obsessed with complicated paperwork. However, people are willing to go out of their way or bend the rules a little if they feel they can do someone a favor.

The Viennese have a singular fascination with death, hence the popularity of the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) as a strolling location and of Schrammelmusik - highly sentimental music with lyrics pertaining to death. Old-fashioned Sterbevereine (funeral insurance societies) provide members with the opportunity to save up for a nice funeral throughout the course of their lives. This service does not exist solely to save their children the hassle and expense - it is considered absolutely mandatory to provide for an adequate burial. Vienna even has the Bestattungsmuseum, a museum devoted to coffins and mortuary science. The country’s morbid obsession may be correlated with its higher suicide rate when compared with the rest of Europe.

Vienna is also famous for its coffee culture. "Let's have a coffee" is a very commonly heard phrase, because despite incursions by Starbucks and Italian-style espresso bars, the Kaffeehaus is still the traditional place to drink a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, meet friends, or fall in love.

Museums
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) , €10 (students €7.50 / map €0.50) – Picture Gallery daily except Monday 10AM–6PM, Thursday 10AM–9PM, U2: Babenbergerstrasse; U3: Volkstheater; tram D, J, 1, 2, bus 57A: Burgring Maria-Theresien-Platz (entrance), phone 525 24 0. One of the world's greatest art museums and in a palace that's a work of art itself. Like the Louvre, serious art fans may wish to devote more than a day to its treasures. The mother of all Austrian museums – there is no other word to describe the "Kunst" other than mind boggling. It contains a world-class exhibit of the Habsburgs' art collection, including Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Bosch, and Brueghel. Its, at the very least, a full day’s worth of sightseeing, if you intend to go through it thoroughly and attempt to ponder the importance of each major work. The better approach here is to break up sections of the museum and visit them over a series of days, or if that’s not an option, pick one section and concentrate on it alone. Beginning with another section of the museum, it’s possible to have a lunch or light dinner in the café and then continue through the Picture Gallery until closing time (especially on Thursdays, because the Picture Gallery is open until 9PM). The Museum has an excellent collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art. The coin & medals collection is also exhaustive in its scope. The Museum cafe is a bit pricey, but good, and in a beautiful setting. Like the Louvre, hand-held photography is permitted to help store and recall the numerous mind-boggling beautiful works of art at the Kunst.
  • Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury) – Located in the Neue Hofburg, the Schatzkammer (also known as the Secular and Ecclesiastical Treasures) is the best part of the Hofburg and an absolute must on any tour of Vienna. It contains the Hapsburgs' collection of jewels, crowns, and other valuables — perhaps the best on the Continent. Second only to a tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum itself, of which the Schatzkammer is officially a part, there are 20 rooms of priceless treasures that give a fairly accurate feel for Hapsburg court life over the centuries.
  • The New Palace (Neue Hofburg) – The New Palace is the newest and largest section of the Imperial Palace. It contains the Ethnological Museum and three branches of the Museum of Fine Arts. The Ephesus Museum contains classical art from Asia Minor. The Collection of Historical Musical Instruments is self-explanatory, but the jewel of the New Palace is the Collection of Arms. This collection, second largest in the world, houses an immense and exhaustive representation of weaponry from past centuries.
  • The Belvedere, Prinz Eugen-Straße 27 (Take tram D, stop Belvedere), +43/ (0)1/ 79 557 0 (info@belvedere.at), . Open daily 10AM–6PM. Intended as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, the Belvedere was located outside the city walls. Its two palace segments, the Upper and Lower Belvedere, later became the permanent home of the Austrian Gallery. The Oberes Belvedere (Upper) contains recent Austrian and international art from the past two centuries. Viennese art from the early twentieth century is well-represented in the permanent collection "Vienna around 1900 and the Art of the Classical Modern."  
  • The Imperial Furniture Collection – Vienna Furniture Museum, Andreasgasse 7, 1070 Wien, phone: +43-1-524 33 57-0. Opening Hours: Tu–Su 10AM–6PM. Wheelchair-accessible. The museum houses the largest furniture collection in the world. It's located just off bustling Mariahilfer Strasse. Take the orange underground line U3 (alight at Zieglergasse, take the Andreasgasse exit). The exhibit displays furniture for all the Austrian emperors since Charles VI (the father of Maria Theresa), furniture by the Thonet Brothers, Jugendstil, and the Viennese Modernist movement. In addition, they show other contemporary Austrian architects and designers, such as E.A. Plischke, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, Luigi Blau, and Franz West. Besides the permanent furniture collection, the museum also hosts two to three temporary special exhibitions on furniture design and photography each year. You can purchase a single ticket or a "Sisi Ticket," which allows you entrance to the Schönbrunn Palace, the Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum, and the Imperial Silver Collection in the Hofburg.
  • MAK - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art , Stubenring 5, 1st District, phone: +43-1-711 36-0, open: Tu 10AM-midnight (MAK - NITE(c)), W-SU 10AM-6PM. Closed on Monday. Free admission on Saturday. The museum has the MAK Design Shop and a study collection. The museum exhibits contemporary art, design, and architecture. To get there take the Subway U3, Tram 1, 2, bus 1A, 74A to Stubentor, and U4 to Landstrasser Hauptstrasse, City Airport Train from the airport to Bahnhof Wien Mitte. Also part of the MAK is the Depot of Contemporary Art (Gefechtsturm Arenbergpark) in the 3rd district Dannebergplatz/Barmherzigengasse. To get there take bus 74A to Hintzerstrasse or U3 to Rochusgasse. Open every Sunday from May 4 – November 30, 2PM-6PM. Exhibited works include spatial interventions and objects by international artists specifically developed for the MAK. A lovely addition to a visit to MAK is popping over the road for a coffee at the 100-year old Cafe Pruekel.
  • KunstHausWien (Vienna House of the Arts), Untere Weißgerberstrasse 13, open daily 10AM–7PM (Every Monday regular admission is half off), Tel: +43-1-712 04 91. To get there, take the street Tram O/N and get off at Radetzkyplatz. Even an avowed hater of modern art can appreciate the KunstHausWien, Hundertwasser's (born Friedrich Stowasser in 1928) major contribution to the Viennese art world. In a time when artists often try to shock the public or merely impress other members of the rarefied gallery subculture, Hundertwasser's manifesto rings out as an utterly reasonable plea: The architecture of KunstHausWien would be a bastion against the dictatorship of the straight line, the ruler and T-square, a bridgehead against the grid system and the chaos of the absurd. Starting with the façade of the building, adapted from its prior life as a furniture factory, there is a Gaudi-in-Barcelona feel to the place. Windows peek out like eyes from curvy, rounded plaster and colorful paint. It's a Disneyland for grownups! Do not miss the Hundertwasserhaus and the shopping village situated about 300m from KunstHausWien.
  • Hundertwasserhaus This interesting apartment/office complex is located 5–10 minutes east of the Wien Mitte U-Bahn stop. You can also take tram N, stop Hetzgasse.
  • Museumsquartier (The Museum District) is the new cultural district of Vienna since 2001. Though a lot of museums and cultural institutions are situated there, it is not only a place for art. It is also an urban living space and people go there to spend some time, sitting in one of the cafés or perhaps playing boccia. The Leopold Museum and the MUMOK are situated there. If you are interested in visiting a couple of these museums, combination tickets available at the MQ entrance will be cheaper than buying them individually at museum entrances. Note that MUMOK and Leopold has a strict policy of not allowing big bags inside the museum. Even your cameras (unless they can be tucked inside a small carry bag) will have to be deposited outside. MUMOK has a self service locker, which you might want to use when visiting Leopold, since Leopold charges €1 per person for the "cloak room" service. Within MQ you can use the free wireless LAN provided by Quintessenz .
  • Pathologisch-anatomisches Bundesmuseum Wien (Pathological and Anatomical State Museum) Open Wednesday 3PM–6PM and Thursday 8AM-11AM. On top of restricted hours, the Narrenturm can be hard to find. Housed in a squat tower, which once was an insane asylum (the "Narrenturm" ("Fool's Tower"), this museum contains some of the dustier corners of the annals of medicine. You'll find preserved hydrocephalic infants, wax castings of tertiary syphilis, antique medical devices, and even a laryngeal tuberculous ulcer. The gift shop sells postcards depicting the best of these. Of similar character is the Josephinum , take trams 37-38, 40-42.
  • Technical Museum – This newly renovated museum near the Schoenbrunn Palace exhibits machines, transportations, electronic equipment, and the like from their first design up to their current form. It also depicts the development of Vienna as a city, on all its technical aspects (recycling, power, sewage, etc). The museum is huge (22,000 square meters) and requires at least two hours to go through. Take trams 10, 52, 58, stop Penzinger Strasse.
  • Natural History Museum – This museum was erected as a mirror to its twin museum, Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts). It exhibits various minerals (eg. a collection of meteorites), fossils, stuffed animals, and skeleton reconstructions (among others, dinosaurs' skeletons). It also includes an anthropological section, where you can see the beautiful Venus of Willendorf (which is 25,000 years old!).
  • Haus der Musik (The Music House) This relatively new museum is a special museum, in that it attributes great value to interactive learning experience. It covers the history of the Vienne Philharmonic Orchestra, the history of Vienna as a centre of music making (Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Mahler, Schubert and others are documented). In addition there are the more experimental sections of futuristic composition (The Brain Opera) and sound experiences. Highly recommended! Look for the happy hour. Take U1, U2, U4, trams 1,2, 62,65, J and D, stop Karlsplatz/Opernring.
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