EUROPE -->  AUSTRIA -->  Vienna
One of Europe's most attractive capital cities, Vienna rewards its visitors with cosmopolitan ambience and magnificent grand architecture.

Vienna is both Austria's capital and its prime tourist attraction. It's a city that encapsulates a lot of European history, and mirrors the great themes of empire building, war and reinventing itself for the modern age. This venerable past appeals to visitors who are treated to a modern city that has retained its traditions and customs.

The Viennese themselves are particularly proud of their cultural heritage and cosmopolitan worldliness, perpetuating Vienna's rich history that's celebrated all year-round in festivals of music, theatre and cuisine.

But it's also well worth travelling beyond this somewhat congested area to experience the Heurigen (wine taverns) and coffeehouses frequented by the Viennese locals for centuries. Magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, and the funfair and parklands of the Prater are only a bus ride away.

Home to the Habsburgs, Mozart and Freud among other luminaries, and the backdrop for one of the most famous films of modern times, The Third Man, Vienna is a living work of art, still as beautiful and refined as ever.

Home to the Habsburg royalty, this truly magnificent palace has 1,440 rooms and halls - constructed with a flair and opulence that served as an appropriate backdrop to Mozart's and Salieri's operatic duels. The palace grounds also comprise a maze, a theatre, the splendidly sumptuous Gloriette and Tiergarten, the world's oldest zoo. Schönbrunn is undoubtedly Vienna's most enduring attraction and should not be missed on a visit to the city.

Museum Quartier – MQ
A heaven for any culture-vulture, Museum Quartier (MQ) groups together some unmissable artistic centres such as Kunsthalle, Leopold Museum and the extravagant MUMOK (MUseum of MOdern Kunst). While the Kunsthalle works as an exhibition centre, modern Austrian art is exhibited at its best at the Leopold Museum. Masterpieces from Klimt, Gerstl and Boeckl are on display. For Pop Art and Photo-Realism, the Museum of Moderner Kunst will satisfy the most demanding culture addict in search for originality.

Belvedere is a splendid rococo palace that is both a vast depository for artistic treasures and an architectural masterpiece in itself.
Originally built for Prince Eugene of Savoy, the palace now holds two excellent galleries displaying Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present day, the Upper Belvedere concentrating on 19th and 20th-century works, and the Lower Belvedere housing baroque and medieval art. Gustav Klimt's The Kiss is just one highlight of the collection. Impeccably manicured gardens and leaping fountains complement the architectural beauty of the palace. A perfect escape from the confines of the city.

Mozart and his family lived in this Viennese townhouse from 1787 to 1790 and the genius composer created numerous works in its confines, including the celebrated opera "The Mariage of Figaro". In between working, he received other musical luminaries such as Haydn and Schubert here. The architecture of the building is less impressive than its historical importance but the museum is a must-see for music fans and contains some interesting exhibits relating to the composer's life and work.

Kunsthistorisches Museum
Austria's national gallery of fine art contains the world's largest Brueghel collection as well as other definitive pieces of Western European art.
The gallery itself opened in 1891 and was purpose-built as a depository for the Habsburgs' extensive and eclectic collection of art, built up over centuries of Imperial rule. Besides the Breughels, notable exhibits include works by Caravaggio, Titian and Rembrandt. There is also a good selection of Roman and Egyptian antiquities on display.

Fascinating and unusual, this museum was created by the famously iconoclastic, and recently deceased, Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser in 1991. Reflecting the art and philosophy of the architect, the bizarre building includes trees growing out of windows, irregular floors, and a delightful café in which to kick back and soak up the unique atmosphere.

The Prater
A vast swatch of green parkland in the city, the Prater is judiciously divided into two segments: one for running, ruminating and relaxing; the other a famous amusement park. The fairground has been in existence in some form or another since 1766 and has a great deal of historical significance as well as being a modern amusement park. The height of the attractions is undoubtedly the celebrated Ferris wheel, a symbol of Vienna made famous in the seminal movie "The Third Man".
Separate operators run each ride but "Praterverband", the marketing organisation of the Prater, produce a voucher booklet which gives reductions on most rides and at many different attractions.

The Stadtpark
An impressive statue of Johann Strauss acts as centrepiece to the carefully maintained lawns and shrubberies of Vienna's main park. In summer, the grounds' restaurants offer al fresco dining accompanied by traditional Viennese orchestral music.
Wandering the peaceful paths and admiring the timeless beauty of the gardens evokes images of a more refined age in the city. For children, there is a playground in the centre where they can let off some steam. The stadtpark is ideally located for most visitors, being conveniently situated right in the centre of the city.

The 19th District
Containing Vienna's most attractive and authentic neighbourhoods this area is essential for visitors seeking the real Vienna.
A stroll through this area of the city on a pleasant day is well rewarded with the refined sights of the historic suburb. Dally in the Heurigen (wine taverns) dotted around the district as you make your way up the Kahlenberg, the highest point in the city. From here you can take advantage of the spectacular views all around and across the city.

An extraordinary variety of merchandise, food and people creates a vibrant and fun atmosphere in Vienna's cosmopolitan, lively and eclectic market.
Produce and merchandise ranges from the mundane to the outlandish, and is drawn from as far away as East Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans. The name is appropriate, literally translating to "Snack Market" it's possible to sample food from all over the globe while wandering the square.

St Stephen's Cathedral
This imposing Gothic structure has been a symbol of the city for the past 800 years. The building is particularly noted for the roof's colourful chevron tiles and the resplendent spire. The interior is a feast of baroque detail; sign up for a tour to get access to the artistic treasures beyond the roped-off areas. The atmospheric catacombs are particularly worth a visit being the last resting-place for pieces (read: internal organs) of some members of the illustrious Habsburg dynasty.
An elevator takes visitors up the North Tower to see the cathedral's famous bell, Pummerin, and enjoy views over the city. For the fitter visitor the South Tower can be reached on foot via its spiral staircase. Stephansplatz.

Spanish Riding School
Situated in the Hofburg this is undoubtedly Vienna's most fascinating attraction. A massive ballroom is the setting for the famous white Lipizzaner stallions' performance of finely executed dressage manoeuvres set to the music of Mozart and Strauss.

Freud Museum
Freud lived in Vienna from 1860 to 1938, spending most of his time at Berggasse 19, the site of the current Freud Museum. This modest house has since become a shrine for the curious and the devoted as it has not only a lot of his original furniture but also embodies the very character and ambience of the great doctor's home and practice.
Major exhibits include an antique collection, letters, first editions and an extensive library. There is also a video room with rare archive footage. With a delightful irony that Freud would have enjoyed, there is now a lingerie shop directly opposite the house where the sexually repressed would attend their therapy.

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