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Johann Strauss Walking Tour (Self Guided), Vienna

Strauss Jr. succeeded his father (Johann Strauss Sr.) as Vienna's "Waltz King", and surpassed him at it. Strauss Jr.'s waltz compositions are widely considered the most famous of the Viennese waltzes, so how can you visit Vienna and not pay homage to the iconic composer? From the family home to the gold-plated statue in the Stadtpark to the theater where the musician introduced his work to the public, follow this self-guided tour de force to trace the footsteps of Strauss Jr. in Vienna.
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Johann Strauss Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Johann Strauss Walking Tour
Guide Location: Austria » Vienna (See other walking tours in Vienna)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Johann Strauss Apartment
  • Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral)
  • Johann Strauss Monument
  • Musikverein (Vienna Philharmonic)
  • Karlskirche (St. Charles' Church)
  • Theater an der Wien (Opera House)
1
Johann Strauss Apartment

1) Johann Strauss Apartment (must see)

Fans of the Waltz King should head for the apartment on the first floor of Praterstraße no. 54 where the composer lived from 1863 until the death of his first wife, the glamorous opera singer Jetty Treffz, in 1878. It was there, under the high ceilings, that he composed "The Blue Danube", Austria's unofficial anthem, despite his father's attempts to drag him out of the music business and to hinder his musical pursuits.

The apartment has (German/English) displays of Strauss' original furnishings and instruments, with visitors able to get glimpses into the man, the composer, the conductor, the caricaturist, and the card player. One room, decorated with ceiling panels of cherubs, contains his grand piano, house organ and standing desk at which he used to compose. There's also a fascinating collection of ballroom memorabilia, including an Amati violin, gimmicky dance cards and quirky ball pendants, kept as mementos of the evening. Oil paintings from Strauss' last apartment, which was destroyed during WWII, are also on site.

Tip:
As you enter the first room, wave at the sensor hidden under the title-page display until "The Blue Danube" starts to play.
The apartment is not to be confused with the Strauss Museum, which instead explicates the entire Strauss musical family.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am–1pm / 2–6pm
2
Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral)

2) Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral) (must see)

With its intricately patterned tiled roof, the imposing Gothic cathedral of St. Stephen's (Stephansdom) is a prime landmark inside Vienna's old city center, having stood watch over the place for nearly 700 years. Its distinctive south tower rises to an impressive 445 feet and previously has served as the main observation and command post for the city's walled defense, for which purpose it even contained an apartment for watchmen who, until 1955, manned the tower at night and rang the bells if a fire was spotted. There was to be a twin north tower, but for several reasons, it ended up being just half the size and of a different design.

The views from the Watch Room, at the top, are surely worth climbing the 343 steps, otherwise you can take a lift up to a viewing platform on the shorter tower, home to the massive Pummerin ("Boomer") Bell – the largest in Austria, originally cast from melted-down cannons abandoned by the Turks while fleeing Vienna in 1683.

High points of the interior are the gorgeous vaulting of the Albertine Chapel, the stone pulpit (a masterwork of late Gothic sculpture), canopies or baldachins over many of the side altars, and a most spectacular Renaissance work – Friedrich III's tomb. You also won't want to miss the 14th century catacombs and the treasury where some of the cathedral's most valuable objects are displayed. Some of them can only be seen on a guided tour, such as a red marble sepulcher sculpted in 1467-1513, the 16th-century pulpit, a Gothic winged altar from the 1440s, and the tomb of Prince Eugene of Savoy dated 1754.

Visit St. Stephen's Cathedral and you'll be standing in the same church in which Joseph Haydn once sang as a choir boy until his voice broke, and where Johann Strauss married both of his wives, Henrietta Treffz and Angelika Dittrich. A memorial tablet gives a detailed account of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's relationship with the cathedral, including that of him being appointed an adjunct music director here shortly before his death. This was his parish church when he lived at the Figaro House and he was married here; two of his children were also baptized at St. Stephen's, and his funeral was held in the Chapel of the Cross inside.

Why You Should Visit:
While incredible architecture is rather commonplace in Vienna, this majestic Roman-Gothic masterpiece is absolutely unmistakable and not to be missed.

Tip:
Be sure to make a loop around the structure as there are many interesting details still visible on the outside walls.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 6am-10pm; Sun: 7am-10pm
3
Johann Strauss Monument

3) Johann Strauss Monument

The gilded bronze tribute to the Waltz King is easily one of the most known and most frequently photographed monuments in Vienna – including after dark when beautifully illuminated. Compared to the many traditional 19th-century-style statues at Stadtpark, this certainly is a more playful, elegant and interesting composition to view. Framed by a marble relief made by founding member of the Vienna Secession, Edmund Hellmer, it was unveiled to the public on 26 June 1921.

The statue is located right behind the opulent Kursalon concert hall where Strauss Jr. gave his first concert on 15 October 1868, turning it into a popular place for concerts and for dancing ever since. After undergoing some renovation, the Kursalon is still used for balls and waltz concerts where one can hear the composer's music.

Tip:
Scattered throughout the park are other statues of famous Viennese artists, writers, and composers: Hans Canon, E. J. Schindler, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner...
4
Musikverein (Vienna Philharmonic)

4) Musikverein (Vienna Philharmonic) (must see)

Two concert halls in one building, designed in the 1860s with dazzling gilding inside. The larger of the two, the Grosser Saal ("Great Hall"), has some of the best acoustics in the world – along with Berlin's Konzerthaus, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Boston's Symphony Hall – and is the unofficial home of the great Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which gives regular sell-out performances, while the other hall, the Brahms Saal, is used for smaller-scale chamber concerts.

The Musikverein's most prestigious event is the annual New Year's Day concert, a tradition started under the Nazis in 1939, and one which is now broadcast live around the world to an estimated 50 million viewers from 95 countries. If you are lucky to be in Vienna during the regular season (September-June), go for a real concert instead of a tourist-oriented one. While tickets for "proper" concerts may be sold out months in advance, other times they will be on sale up to the start of the performance. In any case, use the official box office on the left side of the building or the official website, as agencies are known to take a hefty commission.

The concert hall itself also has a rich musical history, as the place where Johann Strauss Jr. personally conducted the waltz "Freut Euch des Lebens" (Life Let Us Cherish – composed for the opening ball), and where Arnold Schönberg unleashed atonal music – or as Schönberg preferred to call it, "the emancipation of dissonance" – on an unsuspecting and unready Viennese public.

Why You Should Visit:
The building is intricately beautiful and the guided tour, fascinating.
The area itself is very happening so you should be checking it out.

Tip:
One must enter a computer lottery to win the chance to buy tickets for events, but it is well worth the effort.
One could also get a (cheaper) last-minute standing room ticket if one tries.
5
Karlskirche (St. Charles' Church)

5) Karlskirche (St. Charles' Church) (must see)

Vienna's Karlskirche (St. Charles' Church) is located in the eponymous Karlsplatz (St. Charles' Square), about 200 meters away from Ringstrasse, and is one of the finest examples of Baroque religious architecture in the city. Among its prominent features are the impressive oval high ceiling dome topping the structure, the elongated form of the building, and the exterior columns modeled on the famous analogues in Rome dedicated to the Emperor Trajan. The Viennese columns celebrate the life of St Charles Borromeo (to whom the church is dedicated) and the vast power of the Hapsburgs, symbolizing the Pillars of Hercules. Another interesting feature are the two spheres with metallic reflective sides allowing viewers to observe more details of the interior.

In recent times, the location has become a very popular tourist attraction, in large part due to its peculiar style, starkly contrasting that of other buildings nearby. St. Charles' is run by a local Catholic order and remains a parish church. It is also seat of the Catholic student ministry of the Vienna University of Technology and thus, apart from being an architectural marvel, is a functional institution.

Erected to celebrate the emergence from black plague that struck Vienna hard in the early 18th century, the Karlskirche is virtually a monument to St Charles Borromeo who was renowned for ministering to the needs of plague victims. History tells that Emperor Charles VI made a vow to God that he would build a church and name it after St. Charles Borromeo, if God relieved the city of the disease. God did, and so did the Emperor.

*****Johann Strauss Walk*****

On May 28, 1878 Strauss married his second wife, a young singer named Angelika Dittrich, at St. Charles' Church. Unfortunately, Dittrich was not a supporter of his music and their marriage ended in divorce in 1882.

Tip:
You have to pay to get in (students get a discount), but it's well worth it for the lovely interior.
There is a lift inside that can take you close to the murals on the dome ceiling. From up there, you can also enjoy a spectacular view of the city from the dome window.
6
Theater an der Wien (Opera House)

6) Theater an der Wien (Opera House)

Splendid architecturally, well organized, and with a program of shows that hosts the most important artists in Europe year-round, Vinenna's oldest standing theater is a pleasure for tourists. You can read interviews with singers who say that they love it, too, because of its intimacy and the way its acoustics show off the voice.

Theater an der Wien was opened in 1801; a statue above the original Millöckergasse entrance (around the corner from the present main entrance) shows its founder, Emanuel Schikaneder, playing Papageno in Mozart's "The Magic Flute". The building is also closely linked to Beethoven, who lived here while working on "Fidelio" (his only opera, celebrating the triumph of marital love and female heroism over the cruelty of official tyranny), but also to Johann Strauss Jr, whose operetta "Die Fledermaus" was premiered on 5 April 1874 and has been part of the regular repertoire ever since.

The spirit of musical history probably adds to one's enjoyment, but the performances one sees here – including daring performances of 20th- and 21st-century works – are wonderful in themselves: imaginative and effective staging, fine orchestras and choruses, and exceptional singers. Tours of the foyer, auditorium, and stages (with a sneak peek into the cloakrooms and mask collection) sold at the box office cost €7 per person and are a wonderful way to get the entire history and see backstage areas.

Opening Hours (Box Office):
Mon-Sat: 10am–6pm; Sun / Holidays: 2–6pm

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