Vienna Introduction Walk II (Self Guided), Vienna

The capital of the once mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire, today's Vienna is still much revered for its great historic and cultural past, as well as present. The biggest city in Austria with the second largest population of German speakers in the world (after Berlin), Vienna has no shortage of international guests coming each year to visit its imperial palaces, numerous museums and other art venues. This orientation walk will lead you to some of the most notable architectural and cultural places of Vienna.
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Vienna Introduction Walk II Map

Guide Name: Vienna Introduction Walk II
Guide Location: Austria » Vienna (See other walking tours in Vienna)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles
Author: alexei
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • State Opera House
  • Burggarten
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum
  • Naturhistorisches Museum
  • MUMOK - Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien
  • Leopold Museum
  • Secession Building
  • Karlskirche
  • Belvedere Garten
  • Belvedere Palace
State Opera House

1) State Opera House (must see)

The State Opera House is an impressive structure with an equally impressive company of performing singers. The history of this location dates all the way back to around the 1860s. The place was originally called the Vienna Court Opera. That name was changed by the Habsburgs in 1920 during the early formation of the first Austrian Republic.

Many of the members of the Opera end up performing with the Vienna Philharmonic. The group has a large repertoire of very famous pieces as well, such as La Traviata, La Clemenza di Tito, and Verdi’s Don Carlo. You will see many very famous singers coming to this venue to sing. Some of the world’s most famous directors have also earned their fame here – from Gustav Mahler to Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado. Apart from the singers and orchestra, the building itself is worth the visit. The State Opera offers guided tours of the location in 12 different languages. They are available every day of the week and last for around 40 minutes.

Do not buy opera tickets from the dressed up people outside on the street – they don't sell real tickets!
Sight description based on wikipedia

2) Burggarten (must see)

The Burggarten is located in Vienna’s 1st district. It was originally a garden on the grounds of the Hofburg Palace. The space was originally partially occupied by a wall that surrounded the palace and the city to protect against invaders. However, it did little to stop Napoleon’s advance upon the city and as he left portions of the wall were destroyed.

In the space where the wall had been, a beautiful formal garden in the English tradition was created on the palace grounds. After the fall of the Habsburg dynasty, the garden was opened for public enjoyment.

Several statues are on the garden grounds, but the most famous one is the Mozart Denkmal that was moved there in the early 1950s. Also be sure to see the fountain statue of Hercules that was placed in the pond in the 1940s.

Another popular feature is the butterfly garden (Schmettlerlinghaus) which was added in 1901. Tropical butterflies and bats live in a tropical paradise here. It is educational as well as beautiful; one can see the butterfly eggs, caterpillars, cocoons and butterflies all in one building. The free-flying butterflies are spectacular and sure to please everyone.

Why You Should Visit:
Cool, cozy little place to park off and enjoy the sun after a long walk in the Old City.

Combine with a refreshment stop at the fabulous Palmenhaus café overlooking the garden!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-10pm (Apr-Oct); 7am-5:30pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Kunsthistorisches Museum

3) Kunsthistorisches Museum (must see)

The very name of the place means “Museum of Art History.” Many locals just call it the KHM. The place was founded in 1891, and was designed at the same time as the Maria-Theresien Platz. Construction of the building lasted for 19 years. It is one of the most impressive art collections in all of Europe. Emperor Franz Joseph the First of Austria was responsible for the construction. It was designed mainly to hold the impressive art collection of the Hapsburgs.

The central structure on Rinstrasse Street is the home of the picture gallery, and is very impressive indeed. You will also find the European coin collection here. The display of Egyptian Antiquities is stored in this main location, as well as one of Europe’s best collections of Roman and Greek historical art.

Recently, the Museum of Ethnology has become part of the KHM, as well as the Theater Museum on Lobkowitz. This occurred in January of 2001. So, you will have to visit a couple of locations to get through all the holdings.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Naturhistorisches Museum

4) Naturhistorisches Museum (must see)

The Naturhistorisches Museum is part of the larger Wien complex of exhibits located all over the city of Vienna. The current facility has grown to over 90,000 square feet in size. In recent years, software has been developed to allow you to tour part of the place via a virtual tour.

The location is known worldwide, as it is one of the most important collections of items of natural history to be found anywhere. The project started over 250 years ago and now features over 20,000,000 pieces of interest.

The central building is an old palace structure that constitutes the original museum. It opened in 1869 under the name of the Imperial Natural Museum. Today, many of the original displays have been relocated into other parts of the overall Wien Museum of Vienna.

You will find some very rare items here as well. For instance, the Venus of Willendorf is an object that is over twenty-five thousand years old. There is also a dinosaur skeleton displayed on the floors that is over two hundred and fifty million years old. In all, you will be able to casually walk through 39 different sections of the museum.

Why You Should Visit:
Incredible because of the upgrading of many exhibits, which brilliantly combine the old (showcases of artifacts from the late 1880s in their original cases) with the new (an amazing exhibit room of meteorites with interactive cases or an exhibit on our planet which is incredibly interesting and educational).
Almost everything is in English as well as in German. The museum has also gone out of its way to cater to kids, so a great place for the family.

It is strongly recommended to take an audio guide and learn more about the most important collection items.
If you are a student, make sure to bring your student card to capitalize on the discount they offer.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Mon: 9am-6:30pm; Wed: 9am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
MUMOK - Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien

5) MUMOK - Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien

MUMOK, as it is named for short, is a museum that was designed to be a place to help promote and display all that is best about the modern age of art. They focus on pieces that have been done during the 20th and 21st Centuries. With such a focus, they have been able to amass one of the world’s larger collections of paintings, sketches, sculpture, etc. from this period.

The building that houses the collection is just as unique as the art. The outer structure is done in a very dark gray lava stone, which is a real contrast to all the other buildings around it. One will also quickly notice the unusual shapes of the windows as well. It is simply about as stark a contrast as anyone could have made to the quintessential Habsburg style castles of the area. For that reason alone, you may want to go visit.

There is also a lot of technology built into this place. The purpose is to present art in a wholly new way, and to push the edge of thinking on how art should be displayed in a formalized manner. The complex is located in the Museumsquartier, at Museumsplatz 1, A-1070 in Vienna. There are guided tours are offered each day, and are free to those visiting. The tour is in German, but you can call ahead to arrange a visit with an English speaking guide.

Operation hours: Monday 2 pm - 7 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10 am - 7 pm, Thursday 10 am - 9 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Leopold Museum

6) Leopold Museum (must see)

This famous museum can be found in the so-called “Museumsquartier” of Vienna. If you only get a chance to see one museum while you are visiting, this may be your choice. It houses one of the largest Austrian centered collections of art in the world. You can visit and see the works of Kokoschka, Gerstl, Schiele, and even Klimt. All in all, there are more than five thousand exhibits.

The location is named for the famous couple - Rudolf and Elisabeth - who put the collection together over a span of 50 years. The collection was organized and placed on display at its current location with the assistance of the State of Austria, as well as the National Bank of Austria. A private foundation and holding corporation was established to care for the pieces in 2001.

In addition to being able to visit this grand exhibit of 19th and 20th Century Austrian art, you may also want to stop and visit their gift shop. There, you can purchase replications of some of the great pieces exhibited at Leopold Museum. The building is also home to the Café Leopold, which is a well known night spot for people to come, have some coffee, and discuss history, art, and politics.

Opening hours: Daily except Tuesday - 10am to 6pm; Thursday- 10am to 9pm;
Sight description based on wikipedia
Secession Building

7) Secession Building (must see)

The Vienna Secession refers to a group of young artisans who decided to start their own movement within the world of art. The style is very 'nouveau' and is a radical departure from the more traditional types of art being created during that part of Viennese history. The famous 'new start' occurred in 1897, but Secessionism really took off at the beginning of the 20th century, when a fair bit of work from the group became part of the famous Belvedere Collection.

A building and exhibition hall designed by Joseph Olbrich was also established in 1897 as the 'headquarters' of the group. It is now the home for some of the most famous pieces of art from the movement's member such as Klimt and Frieze. The Viennese venue was actually chosen in 2004 to appear on the 100 euro coin, along with more information about the famous Secessionist group.

Why You Should Visit:
Interesting especially if you're a fan of Klimt, with the Beethoven Frieze as the biggest highlight – one of the architectural pieces you'll never forget!
The building's facade is quite stunning as well and you can see many tourists stand across the busy main road taking pictures.

The audio guide is very useful here; much easier to sit and listen as you look at each section than having to read explanatory notes.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

8) Karlskirche (must see)

This famous house of worship is located in Karlsplatz, Vienna, and is located just at the beginning of the First District. It sits about 200 meters from the Ringstrabe. The building represents one of Vienna’s finest examples of baroque style churches also. One of the really unique features of the place is its unusually shaped dome that sits atop the building. It is elongated in form.

The location has really become a very popular tourist attraction in recent times. This is due to the unusual styling of the building, and the contrast that it paints to other buildings in the area. The church is managed by a local Catholic order, but is still the local parish church for the area. It is also the home of the student ministry to the Vienna University of Technology. So, besides being an architectural marvel, it is also still quite functional.

History tells us that Emperor Charles VI ordered the building of the church in order to fulfill a vow he made to God. The black plague was striking Vienna hard in the early 1700s, so the Emperor made a promise that he would build a church and name it after St. Charles Borromeo, who was well known for caring for people who suffered from the plague. In exchange, he asked God to relieve the city of the disease.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Belvedere Garten

9) Belvedere Garten (must see)

The Belvedere Garten is in between the upper and lower Belvedere Palaces, acting as a link that ties the two together. The formal garden was laid out in traditional French fashion by Dominique Girard who had received formal training in Versailles. While the garden is in Vienna, its original owner was French in origin.

The old gardens had wonderful patterned beds and exquisite statuary. Most of this statuary has survived the years, but the intricately patterned beds have unfortunately been lost over the centuries. The gardens have enjoyed a resurgence and are neatly trimmed, and although not the formal gardens of days past, they are beautiful and easy to enjoy. Thousands of different plants are in the space of less than one acre. The pools and fountains give a glimmer of the original grounds' grandeur.

The area also houses the Alpine garden and a garden from the University of Vienna. Free and open to the public, this area is an absolute must-see for those who love to garden.

Find the hidden spaces to just sit down and rest for a moment. They are shaded, quiet and just what you need after the walk around the garden.

Opening Hours:
The gates open at 6:30 or 7:30 in the morning and close between 5:30pm and 9pm depending on the season.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Belvedere Palace

10) Belvedere Palace (must see)

The Belvedere palaces were the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736). The ensemble was built in the early eighteenth century by the famous Baroque architect, Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, and comprises the Upper and Lower Belvedere, with the Orangery and Palace Stables, as well as extensive gardens. As one of Europe's most stunning Baroque landmarks, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, the Belvedere houses the greatest collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day, complemented by the works of international artists. At the Upper Belvedere, visitors not only encounter artworks drawn from over five hundred years of art history but can also experience the magnificent staterooms.

The Belvedere's art collection presents an almost complete overview of the development of art in Austria and, thus, an insight into the country's history. The world's largest collection of Gustav Klimt's paintings lies at the heart of the presentation of Art around 1900, on show at the Upper Belvedere. Its highlights are Klimt's paintings, 'The Kiss' (1908/09) and 'Judith' (1901), and masterpieces by Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. Key works of French Impressionism and the greatest collection of Viennese Biedermeier art are further attractions at the museum.

Why You Should Visit:
As well as being home to some of Klimt's most famous pieces, the collection, in general, is vast and the building itself, remarkable.
Not only is the building a sight to behold but the grounds are magnificently maintained... as you would expect them to be.

To wait in a shorter line, purchase your tickets online before your departure.
Make sure to leave the time to stroll through the gardens either on the way to or from this wonderful palace.

Opening Hours:
Sat-Thu: 9am-6pm; Fri: 9am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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