We start the day with:
- a walking tour of the City Centre; then
- lunch at the Café Landtmann
- a visit to the Imperial Treasury; followed by
- Cake and Coffee at Café Demel;
- an evening concert by a Mozart Ensemble in the Mozart Haus
A walk around the centre of Vienna
Quite a good website about being a tourist in Vienna is here. It has a number of downloadable maps and general information.
Vienna has numerous fine buildings which have managed to survive the various wars which have affected the city and as in all cities, a variety of new buildings some of which are noteworthy and some which are not.
Dominating the centre of town is St Stephens Cathedral (Stephansdom).
The Church would have been destroyed during the Second World War had a German Officer carried out his orders to destroy it as the German forces retreated.
The Nave is grand
and the Altar is ornate.
The Pulpit is a particularly fine example of the stonemason’s art and skill.
On each of four sides of the pulpit are portraits of St Augustine; Ambrose; Gregory and Jerome in different stages of life.
Beneath the stairs of the pulpit is a stone self portrait of the pulpit’s sculptor looking out of a window and it is known as the Fenstergucker (Fenster = Window, Gucker = Gawking or Looking).
The Servants’ Madonna dates from the 1300s and according to the legend, was made after a maid asked the Virgin for help after being wrongly accused of theft and was soon after proven innocent.
Just across the street from the Cathedral is the Haas House which even to
my generous architectural opinion, looks rather out of place opposite a fine gothic romanesque structure. Although our guide pointed out that some aspects of the Cathedral, such as its multi-coloured roof,
would similarly have been regarded as out of place when it was built.
The Plague Column
In 1679, the Plague again came to the city and Emperor Leopold I vowed to erect a column if the plague ended. The column was commissioned in 1683 and completed 10 years later.
The base of the column represents the triumph of Faith over Disease, in the middle is the praying figure of Emperor Leopold I (who had in fact fled from the city and only returned when the all clear was given but must have forgotten this) showing the protruding Hapsburg lower lip, and on the top are Cherubs and other religious symbols.
Doorways and Buildings
This doorway is not just particularly fine and ornate, it carries with it some interesting history. The building (19 Rotenfarmstrasse) was where Dr Maxim Steiner practiced as a Psychoanalyst and he was a member of the same society of Psychoanalysts as Freud.
Lunch at the Cafe Landtmann
The Café Landtmann opened on October 1st 1873
and is one of the few non-smoking cafés in Vienna. Unfortunately, Vienna has not yet introduced a complete ban on indoor smoking in cafés and restaurants and will not do so until 2018. The Viennese press has many articles written the same as those in the UK press when the ban was introduced here - namely that cafés will close, people will stay at home etc. An assertion which has not proved true but the truth must not get in the way of a dedicated smoker.
Perhaps unusually, the cafe serves four varieties of breakfast up until 1130 am and a fifth available until 3 pm. The breakfasts seem to get larger in quantity (and price) as the day progresses.
Their website says that regulars there have included Peter Altenberg, Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Max Reinhardt, Marlene Dietrich, Romy Schneider, Burt Lancaster, Hans Moser, the Netherlands Queen Juliane, Hillary Clinton and Sir Paul McCartney. Unfortunately, they were all absent (or dead) when we went.
Inside it is as one might imagine an upmarket Viennese restaurant to look and the staff to act.
Everything was done with style and panache and the Asparagus Cream Soup I had as an alternative to the meat course given to everyone else was probably the best I have ever tasted.
Their website also says:
Apple Strudel is as Viennese as the coffee mixture known as a Melange, as a Wiener Schnitzel, or as the Schönbrunn Palace. It is in fact here, at the Schönbrunn Palace, where the Imperial bakery is located that - according to reliable sources - is where the center of the Apple Strudel universe is located. The best Apple Strudel in the world is prepared beneath these arched walls where royal meals once were prepared for the Emperor.
This is an assertion we were not able to test because we were given
Topfenknodel (cheese curd dumplings) on a raspberry ragout for desert.
They also sell a large variety of cakes
which I suspect we shall sample the next time we go to Vienna.
Before we left, we were able to use one of their
very polished Desert Spoons for a Desert Spoonsie.
Imperial Treasury - Kaiserliche Schatzkammer
It is a dark museum and using a flash is not allowed so I left with few photographs. Above is the Imperial Crown, Orb and Sceptre
and above is the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire. Particularly fine were some of the garments on display of a quality which would be very hard to beat.
Too many cakes at the Café Demal
The Café Demel opened (elsewhere in Vienna) around 1786 and moved to its current site around 1888 (if I have researched its history correctly). Its significance to “cake and coffee” is that it serves Sachertorte. The café was involved in a legal dispute over who owned the rights to the name Sachertorte - a rather nice chocolate cake. So in an attempt to be evenhanded, we shall eat Sachertorte here and on Sunday we shall do so at the Hotel Sacher who were the other party in the dispute.
and if you felt that the cakes were not rich enough
there was extra cream available.
Apart from the fine cakes, the building was quite fine as well. The ceiling is typical of the architectural quality of the inside of the building.
And the teaspoons were polished so well
that we could use them to take a perfect TeaSpoonsie!
Finishing the day with Mozart
The Convent of the Order of German Knights is in the centre of Vienna and dates from the mid 12th Century. Mozart lived here for a few months in 1781 and on the ground floor is the Sala Terrena where Mozart performed several concerts.
We have front row tickets and are so close to the quartet that we could turn the pages of their music if they asked us to without getting out of our chairs.
The detailing in the Frescos is exquisite but a bit over retouched in places.
Although the ensemble obviously play the same programme regularly, they did not let this diminish the enthusiasm they put into the performance.
Consequently it was a very enjoyable evening and other than the instruments being modern, it would have been very similar to a performance in Mozart’s day.