Vienna, a city more than just music

Greetings. I am Tianlan Xie from 18/19 Cultural Heritage Management MA course. In the Christmas vacation, my boyfriend planned a trip for us (“Heritage Theme”, as he said). We traveled from Austria to the Czech Republic and finished our trip in German. It was 14 days in total. Vienne was our first stop, which is also the capital of Austria. It was my first time to visit this famous place- well known as the City of Music. After traveling in Vienne for 4 days, I found it was more than just music, but also other things impressive.

We arrived in Vienna on Christmas Eve. The City Hall in Vienna was illuminated and the side hall on the first floor was open to the public. There were many indoor activities for children, such as making Christmas desserts and role-playing stories. The Christmas market was on the square, selling honey wine, Wiener Schnitzel, and other local food. Baroque-style historic buildings were solemn and magnificent on both sides of the street on a rainy night. While the water vapor and colorful lights at Christmas market were very lovely.

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Next day we got up early to visit museums in Vienna. There are packed tickets “Vienna Pass” for 1-5 days, including free entry to over 60 top attractions, museums, and monuments in Vienna. We started our trip from the Natural History Museum. The earliest collections of the Natural History Museum Vienna date back more than 250 years. It was Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine, Maria Theresa’s husband, who in 1750 purchased what was at the time the world’s largest and most famous collection of natural history objects from the Florentine scholar and scientist Jean de Baillou. This was the first step on the road to creating the Natural History Museum Vienna. After more than 200 years of efforts by all collectors, the total number of collections has exceeded 20 million.

Unfortunately, the English audio tour machines were sold out that day. The exhibitions are displaced in various ways from boxes to walls, making full use of the space and relating to nature (e.g. birds are hung in the air). But it is still quite fascinating to me with the unbelievable beauty of nature. It is also a good educational place for children and adults.

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The Museum of Fine Arts is also another famous museum in Vienna. What impressed me most were the exhibitions from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Rome, including the mummy, coffins, and statues.

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These two museums were commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830 – 1916) and designed by the architects Gottfried Semper (1803 – 1879) and Carl Hasenauer (1833 – 1894). The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other. They were originally designed to be part of a much larger project – an Imperial Forum – inspired by urban planning in ancient Rome. The building’s internal structure combines two architectural traditions: entrance hall, staircase and cupola hall form. An additional elegant feature is the circular opening in the ceiling of the entrance hall that offers visitors their first glimpse of the cupola hall. The building itself is a great piece of artwork.

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The weather was nice and sunny later, so we just caught up a bus randomly to travel around the city, listening to the audio tour guide about the history and stories of the city. We got off at Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn. Everyone knows Prince Sisi, which also attracts people to come and see the places she has lived in. From the 18th century to 1918, Schönbrunn was the residence of the Habsburg emperors. It is full of outstanding examples of decorative art. Together with its gardens, the site of the world’s first zoo in 1752, it is a remarkable Baroque ensemble and a perfect example of Gesamtkunstwerk(UNESCO, 1996)

We rent an audio tour guide then walked into the palace. It took us 3 hours to walk through all the rooms with countless gorgeous decorations, art collections from east to west, delicate daily-use tableware and so on. The exhibitions and buildings were well-preserved, showing how the life of the Habsburg family was.

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(©SchloßSchönbrunnKultur-und Betriebsges. No photo is allowed inside.)

I was still shocked by how luxury the palace was when walking outside… Although it went dark, we decided to visit the garden. There is no light and only a few people there. Animals in the zoo kept howling (I mean, you don’t know what’s there and it sounds like a monster), which really freaked me out.

Finally, we passed the statues and fountain pool, climbed up the hills safely.  It can be seen from the top that the whole city was lighted in the dark, modern and classic at the same time.

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References

KHM-Museumsverband (2019) Available at https://www.khm.at/en/. Last accessed 10th March 2019.

Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (2019) Available at https://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/en. Last accessed 10th March 2019.

Schloss Schönbrunn (2019) Available at https://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/. Last accessed 10th March 2019.

UNESCO (1996) Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn.Available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/786. Last accessed 10th March 2019.

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