There are cities that are meant to be seen during the day, when you can observe the towering turrets of castles and churches from afar, walk along the historical streets while talking to fellow tourists, and dine at expensive restaurants.
By Erika Grace R. Lapitan
But, there are also cities that come to life during the night and can only truly be enjoyed when different lights illuminate the city. The nightly splendor of Vienna is what makes it more alluring, attracting different tourists to Austria’s capital city.
Apart from being famous for their historical coffee houses, Vienna is also known as the “City of Music” and “The City of Dreams.” It gained the name City of Music during the great age of Viennese Classicism when Austrian music flourished and marked the city as the center of European Music. Scientists also called Vienna as the City of Dreams because it was the home of Neurologist Sigmund Freud, the Father of Psychoanalysis.
Rich with historical landmarks, impressive music, and nightly vistas, nothing can ever surpass the city at its best. Vienna’s unique character separates it from the rest.
Danube Island and Danube City
Starting the day early in the morning, one must first see the panoramic views of Danube Island and its little city. Tourist and locals can cycle and skate around its outskirts while feeling the cold morning air and enjoying the view of crystalline waters surrounding it. Danube Island is a favorite recreational location, frequented by travellerssearching for both fun and relaxation.
Danube Island or Donauinsel in German, is a narrow strip of land found in central Vienna, locked between the Danube River and New Danube. The city is most famous for Floridsdorferbrücke, an open-air music festival held three days before the end of June. This custom started in 1983, when a politician wanted to promote the Danube Island as a recreational area.
When in this tourist spot, one should also take a stroll around the busy and bustling Danube City or Donau City, the newest part of Vienna’s 22nd District. This multi-functional center found between the Danube and UN City also houses the Andromeda Tower, one of Austria’s tallest skyscraper.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral and St. Charles’ Church
After the early morning escapades, be amazed at two of the most famous Roman Catholic structures in Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and St. Charles’ Church. Built with different architectural styles, these two artifacts dominate the city with their outstanding designs.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral,locally called as Stephansdom, serves as the mother church of Vienna’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Large and monumental, this Romanesque and Gothic structure marks the center of Austria’s capital. It was first build in 1147 over the ruins of two earlier churches; and was eventually expanded through the initiative of King Albert I and his grandson, Rudolf IV.
As one of Vienna’s landmarks, St. Stephen’s Cathedral has witnessed many significant events of the country’s history and has become one of the most essential symbols of the city.
Moving to the southside of Karlsplatz, one will find St. Charles’ Church or Karlskirche,the most prominent Baroque church in Vienna. Dedicated to the great 16th century reformer St. Charles Borromeo, the church is the final masterpiece of distinguished architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.
Karlskirche stands proud in a combination of the architectural elements of ancient Rome and Greece, as well as contemporary Viennese Baroque. Its most striking features are the great towering columns, which take after Trajan’s columns in Rome and have a touch of Baroque architecture on the top portions.
Burgtheater and Rathaus
As the afternoon rolls in, go and visit the Viennese political structures for a different scenery. Burg theater and Rathaus are two of the most memorable buildings that help shape the history of this majestic city.
Italian and Renaissance in design, the Burg theater or the Imperial Court Theater is considered one of the primary German language theaters in the globe. This Austrian National Theater was founded in 1741 by Empress Maria Theresia and is located along the historical boulevard of Ringstrasse.
Fondly called Die Burg, Burg theater boasts of a magnificent facade, as well as statues of prominent figures in Greek mythology. These include a dominating statue of Apollo, accompanied by the muses, Melpomene and Thalia. There is also a grand frieze that portrays Bacchus and Ariadne. Going inside the theater, you will find two grand staircases, which will lead you to the foyer and eventually, the marvelous central theater hall.
Near Burg theater, you will see Rathaus, Vienna’s city hall. Built by the end of the 18th century, this Gothic structure bears the famous Rathausman, a statue of an armored knight located on top of the Rathaus Tower. It is also adorned with statues of the Habsburg Royal family on either side.
Apart from serving as the city hall, Rathaus also houses WiennerRathauskeller, a traditional Baroque restaurant which serves Viennese cuisines and delicacies. Outside the building,one will find a small park and square known as the Rathaus park and Rathaus platz. Here one can relax and view a miniature version of the Rathausman.
Schönbrunn Palace andState Opera House
For the remaining hours before nightfall, after visiting the religious and political structures of the city, witness the rather magical sight of Schönbrunn Palace and Vienna’s State Opera House as they illuminate the streets with their lights and sceneries.
Schönbrunn Palace used to be the summer home of the Imperial Family, later becoming a favorite residence of other Habsburg monarchs. It lies some four miles from the center of the city, easily accessible through the Vienna underground.
The sprawling Palace grounds is dominated by the Gloriette, a neo-classical arcade built on top of Schönbrunn Hill. It is often called “Temple of Renown” and was built in honor of the brave soldiers who fought for the empire. At the center of the structure one will still see the historical inscription:JOSEPHO II. AUGUSTO ET MARIA THERESIA IMPERANTIB. MDCCLXXV” (Erected 1775 under the reign of Emperor Joseph and Empress Maria Theresia).
At night, the building turns into a magnificent sight where tourists can have a panoramic view of the park, the palace, and even theAustrian capital. While enjoying this glorious site, one can also grab a bite at the Café Gloriette,he can eat delicious pastries and listen to live music ranging from jazz to classics.
After roaming the palace, take a walk to one of the most famous Opera houses in Europe, the Vienna’s State Opera House. Here one will witness the electrifying performances of different artists.
Locally called the Wienner Staatsoper Haus, this famous cultural spot owns a very neo-Renaissance vibe, designed by architects August von Siccardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll. It was opened in May 25, 1869, where Mozart’s Don Giovanni played for the opening performance.
The opera house has two marble fountains on both sides. The left fountain is decorated with symbolic figures depicting music, dance, and joy. The other fountain shows legendary siren Lorelei, accompanied by statues portraying grief, love and sorrow.
Found at the heart of the city, WiennerStaatsoperHausis really something that can’t be missed by visitors of the city.
A Walk in Graben
And, the best is yet to come.
After a long day of touring the most famous and significant structures of the city, there is still one place that remains to be seen. And, this is best witnessed during the evening.This is Graben, the most popular shopping street in the center of Vienna. Der Graben is the direct translation of “The Trench,” which took its name from the moat built when Duke Leopold VI wanted to expand the town in 1220.
Graben is very historical, laden with buildings and imposing shops that even date back to the early 19th century. It begins at Stock-Im-Platz and ends at the junction of Kohlmarkt and Tuchlauben. A monument, Pestsaule (Plague Column) or Dreifalttigkeitssaule (Trinity Column), was also erected at the middle of the district to mark the end of the plague.
Apart from its rich historical background, tourists will also enjoy shopping at the Graben during the night, when its peculiar street lights add to the district’s unique ambience. The street is lined with well-knownclothing establishments such as H&M. While in the vicinity, one should consider stopping by Demel, one of the most famous cafés in the city.
As the night gradually ends, take one last walk at the streets of Vienna. Feel and enjoy the Viennese culture and legacy. Enter the different stores and restaurants, where one can buy local products and taste the city’s delicacies. Just relish the beauty of this glorious city.
The Magic that is Vienna
What happens after sundown is darkness, but what happens after darkness remains to be seen. With artificial light guiding the way, one can still find something to enjoy while waiting for the sun to rise again. But, while at it, one can just try to live in the moment and treasure the experience and joy it brings.
Thousands of visitors come to Vienna every year just to see the blinding lights and the scenic view of the city during the night–anight full of new things to try and characters to see. What more can you ask for? So when the sun goes down and you find yourself wanting to do something different, try the words “Let’s go to Vienna!”