Vienna is such a beautiful city. I really tried to see and do as much as I could. The day after my birthday I was up and out the door to go see the Lippizaner Stallions train. These horses are the oldest breed in the world and were introduced to Austria during the Hapsburg empirer. These horses are absolutely gorgeous. The stables are right in the old section of Vienna, near the Hofburg Palace. The performance area is inside the palace area and is lovely with the hanging chandeliers.
The training session was relaxing to watch as they were playing Viennese waltz music while the horses were practicing. They are so elegant, strong and rugged. Another interesting note, when they are born, they are a black and over 6 to 10 years, they gradually lighten in color going to grey and eventually, all white.
After watching the training for about an hour, I hopped the metro to go to Schonbrunn Palace (which means beautiful spring – as in water). The metro in Vienna is extremely easy to use. I was able to figure it out and didn’t get lost once using it.
Years ago, when I was in Vienna, I went to Schonbrunn but it was in December and the palace was closed for the winter. Pete, Ike and I walked the park but there were no pretty flowers in the garden or water in the fountains. I remembered that we walked up a hill and looked down on the palace. I really wanted to go back and do the tour and see the gardens in full bloom. The tour was nice. We had an audio recording to listen to as we went from room to room. Schonbrunn was originally a hunting lodge. At the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I commissioned architect Bernhard Fischer von Erlach to build a palatial hunting lodge for the heir to the throne. A half century later, under the care of Maria Theresa, this Rococo style palace, with its 1,441 rooms, became the summer palace for the Hapsburg family.
As I said earlier, the tour was nice. It gave an explanation of each room. Photography was not allowed inside. However, I have found some pictures on the internet that I can share with you. The Great Gallery was extremely impressive. The chandeliers hold 70 candles. I think that it must have been so pretty having the crystals reflecting in the candlelight when they were entertaining. President and Mrs. Kennedy were in this room in 1961 during his meeting with Russian Chairman Nikita Khrushchev.
Another room that I liked was the Porcelain Room.
It was a small room but very dainty in white and blue. The walls are decorated in what appears to be blue and white porcelain. However, it is just carved wood painted to look like porcelain. There are 213 framed ink drawings that are copies of the original drawings done by Emperor Franz Stephan and some of his children. This room was used by Maria Theresa as her study and for card playing. I liked the cozy and intimate feeling that you got being in this room after experiencing so much grandeur from the rest of the palace.
In 1779, the grounds surrounding Schonbrunn became a park for the public. Today, it consist of 435 acres and houses a zoo, palm house and lovely trails and flowers. At the far end of the garden is the Gloriette House, built in 1775. It was built to honor the soldiers who gave their lives for the empire. This is the spot that Peter, Ike and I climbed to all those years ago. It gives you a lovely view of the palace and the city of Vienna. I walked up to Gloriette again and this time, I was able to enjoy a cup of coffee at the cafe that is housed in the Gloriette today.
It was a lovely afternoon and I felt as though I did a good job exploring the palace and the beautiful gardens. Around 4:00, I hopped the subway back to downtown Vienna and after grabbing some cottage cheese and bread for a quick snack, I headed on the tram towards the Belvedere Palace to see the Klimt exhibit. Fortunately, on Wednesday nights, the art museum is open until 9:00 at night.
This palace was built in the Baroque style in the 18th century as a summer residence (!) for Prince Eugene of Savoy, one of the most important generals of that time. Today, it is considered one of the finest Baroque landmarks in the world and it houses a museum of Austrian art from the middle ages to current day. One of the most impressive part of the collection is the art work of Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt. This year, 2012, in celebration and honor of Klimt’s 150th birthday, they have had a year long exhibit of all of Klimt’s art that the Belveder owns. It was a wonderful exhibit giving much background of the life of Klimt.
In 1892, the death of Klimt’s father and a brother caused severe emotional suffering to the artist and he began to experiment with different styles such as East Asian art, Impressionism and Symbolism. In 1897, Klimt and other artist left the Kunsterhaus (art school) and founded the Secessionist Group. Their art was influenced by Khnopff, Whistler and Rodin. The photo of his Portrait of a Lady, gives you an idea of his style in 1897 at the age of 35.
1898 Klimt ventured into painting landscapes which were inspired by Fernand Khnopff (to the right is a painting by Khnopff) and other impressionist. He was inspired by the landscape around Lake Attersee in Salzkammergut, Austria where he spent many summers with the Flöge family. Here he painted several beautiful landscape themed paintings. Below is a picture painted by Klimt from the Lake Attersee area.
|The Opera House Auditorium|
|One of the beautifully decorated salons.|