Day 3 - Sunday, September 18, 2005 cont'd...
Back in the bus with more touring and no picture taking. Again, more beautiful apartment buildings, and we drive past the "Golden Cabbage" as the Viennese call it. I forget what its official name is but it was created by a group of Art Deco artists. Got a picture of that on our film camera, I'll see if I can scan it....
We did eventually stop again for another picture moment. This time the Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum. Those two buildings face each other and are (nearly?) identical. I think this picture is the History Museum, the Art Gallery was having some restorations done on the outside of it. This was actually true of a lot of buildings throughout our trip. Everything was constantly being restored, some stunning examples were sandstone buildings that had gone completely black from pollution but were actually a more creamy yellow colour when built. I wish my city would care that much for its old buildings. In general, Austria is an incredibly clean country, very little litter or graffiti. That's not because of the city...its the people. They are brought up not to dump their papers and wrappers on the sidewalk. Us North Americans are slobs in comparison.
Now we cross the street, trying to avoid the cars, tour buses (I think half the population of the city was being moved around by tour buses, I'd never seen anything like it), carriages and trams. We find ourselves in the Heroes' Square, part of the huge Hofburg Palace complex. See, every Emperor couldn't possibly live in the same quarters as their predecessors. Oh no, they each had to build their own wing to the original palace, each with its own distinctive architecture based on current style and fad. Now these are all museums. And also a convenient place to hold an antique car show (you can see a couple of them), and a sunflower garden show :) And yes, it was cloudy the entire time we were in Vienna, but no rain.
That statue you see has a sort of interesting story attached to it. This one is of Prince Eugene. Across from it, there is a similar statue of Archduke Karl. Anyway, Karl's statue was the first one made, and the artist managed to balance it so well that the horse reared up with only its hooves to support the entire weight. He tried to duplicate this accomplishment with this second statue but was unable to do so, you can see the horse's tail is helping out. The artist was much criticized which resulted in him committing suicide. As we traveled about the city, it seemed to us that these Austrian artists were quite sensitive, many of which ending their lives that way, including one of the architect's of the Opera House.
Finally, we got off the bus for good. Some people went off on their own, but we decided to go on the optional tour of the Crown Jewels and the Opera House. This is our group walking towards where the Crown Jewels are kept, in another part of the Hofburg. In front, at the end of the street you can see a little archway. That's where the Spanish Riding School is located (again, another Hofburg wing) and the Lipizzaners perform. Unfortunately, performances only started the next week, and they didn't have any practices till the day after we left the city :( Those people who know me will find it shocking that I got all the way to Austria and didn't see the horses.
This is the front of the Crown Jewels museum as well as the National Library. The wings of the Hofburg create a square here called the Josefplatz. They had set up a stage for a concert and to sell food, that's the edge of it in the bottom right. In the museum, we saw only one Imperial crown, since the son of one emperor had a tendency of selling off the jewels of his father's crown to make money. We saw the cradle of Napoleon's son, whose mother was of course a Hapsburg. We also saw the Holy Roman Emperor's crown, allowed to be only worn once during the coronation, which explained why everyone had to make their own crown for "everyday" use. We weren't allowed flash, and since we had a new camera, we didn't know how to turn it of. No pictures, sorry. Wish I could have taken one of their unicorn horn though. Granted, it was only a narwhale tusk, but it was impressively tall.
This is between two archways. The buildings are so intertwined, that part of the Hofburg chapel (the entrance was to the left side of the Library in the previous picture) is kind of sticking out between two buildings. This whole little section is closed off from the outside world, all four sides are part of the Hofburg palace. Almost maze like.