So, this weekend we went to Vienna…that’s right Vienna. That really awesome place in Austria that has been known for centuries as a hotspot for classical music? Yep, that would be the one. Needless to say, I may or may not have hardcore fangirled over some composers graves and I may or may not have drooled over some Hapsburg treasures. (Don’t worry mom, I cleaned it up and didn’t get arrested. You don’t have to bail me out of Austrian jail.) But, seriously, Vienna is an amazing city with a lot of history and beautiful sights!
On the first day we were there we went to the Shonbrunn Palace and it was gorgeous. We did not tour the inside because it was closed, but exploring the outside was more than enough. Behind the Palace were the royal gardens and, even though most of the plant life was dormant, they were gorgeous. There were several statues set up around the garden and most of them were in a classic Roman style. Further behind the palace stands the Gloriette, this was built in 1775, with several Roman-esque sculptures decorating the structure. From this building you could get a great view of the Palace with the rest of Vienna spread out in the background.
After taking many pictures there, we stumbled upon the “Roman Ruins” in the gardens. During the mid-18th century there was a Romanic movement. The Romanic movement was used to preserve the remains of the heroic past and to display the power of the great empires. However, the 18th century is also when the great powers in Europe began to decline, so the Romanic movement can be seen as the last attempt by royals to reassert their power and stability.
Anyways, these Roman Ruins were built in 1778 by Hetzendorf von Hohenberg. The “ruins” are really quite picturesque and there are figurative representations of the Danube and Enns River in the center of the pool. These ruins were built to show the stability and power of the Hapsburg dynasty. They are damaged and have dark fire markings on them. This is due to the bombings in Austria during the Second World War. I find it amazing that some of these structures are still standing when you consider the damage that was taken during the wars in Europe. So many of these structures could have been completely destroyed, but they are still standing and there has been so much time and effort put into renovating any of the buildings that took great amounts of damage.
Also found in the Schonbrunn Gardens is the Obelisk Fountain. This has to be my favorite part of the whole Palace. Marble figures are placed against rock outcroppings and it makes a beautiful contrast. I wish we could have seen it while it was working, but during the winter most fountains are turned off to prevent damage from freezing. The figures dotted around the grotto of the fountain are meant to represent river gods. The detail on some of these marble figures is absolutely amazing. The musculature is practically lifelike. The obelisk and fountain were erected in 1777 and was designed by Hetzendorf von Hohenberg. The obelisk is supported by four turtles, which represent stability, and the hieroglyphs on the obelisk were said to depict the history of the Hapsburg dynasty. However, the hieroglyphs are not necessarily accurate considering Egyptian hieroglyphs were not deciphered until 1822.
In Ancient Egypt the obelisk was seen as cosmic symbol for sun worship, but in the Baroque era the obelisk was a symbol of princely steadfastness and stability of rule. This is one of the reasons the turtles are utilized to represent the stability of the Hapsburg rule. This Obelisk Fountain was not only a beautiful work of art and architecture, but it was also constructed to convey the Hapsburg's claim to absolute and enduring power.
On the next day, Alec and I got up early to go see the Nachtsmarkt. The Nachstmarkt is like a big farmer's market, but on Saturday's they open a large flea market section. When we first arrived not much was opened, so we went to a local cafe and had one of the best omelette's I have ever had in my whole entire life. Seriously, I never thought I would rave about the quality of an omelette, but this thing was heavenly! Anyways, after stuffing our faces, we walked around the flea market and I purchased a couple souvenirs. We then took the S-Bahn back to the main station and traveled to the Zentralfriedhof. The Zentralfriedhof is Austria's main cemetery and holds more then 2,500,000 graves. Amongst those graves are some of the most famous European musicians, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss and many others. Mozart is not actually buried here, but there is a memorial for him. Needless to say....I may have freaked out a little bit.
After chilling with some of the dead composers, we made our way back to the Museum District and went to the Art History Museum. We were able to see some of the treasures from the Hapsburg Dynasty and that pleased my little historians heart to no end. All in all, Vienna has been my favorite city of this whole trip.