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This weekend I got to spend almost three days in the capital of the former Holy Roman Empire, Vienna, Austria. Full of museums, palaces, and other historic buildings, the city was beautiful, even in the drizzle and fog.

What I Got to Do:

  • The State Opera– I’d never been to an opera before in my life, but at the Vienna State Opera, or Staatsoper, you can get standing room tickets for only three euros. You have to stand for the performance, but you get a monitor that provides English subtitles for the show. Not to mention, the building itself is absolutely stunning. Decorative statues and paintings are illuminated by sparkling chandeliers; the architecture both inside and out was worth the trip alone. Plus I got to see and hear a world-class performance of The Gambler, a dramatic and engaging opera.

  • The Sisi Museum– This was one of my personal highlights of the trip. Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary reigned over the Empire from her marriage in 1867 at the age of sixteen to her assassination in 1898. Both during her life, and particularly after her death, Elisabeth, or Sisi, as she was affectionately known, was frequently misrepresented, romanticized, and shrouded in mystery and legend. This small museum contains a collection of Sisi’s clothing, documents, and other personal effects, and attempts to set the record straight about who exactly this iconic beauty really was. As a long-standing history nerd with a deep-rooted interest in princesses, I loved the Sisi Museum.

  • Kunsthistorisches (Art History Museum)– The Kunsthistorisches Museum is a mouthful to say, but so much fun to look at. Its collection is limited to certain types of art, mostly classical paintings from artists ranging from Titian to Caravaggio and many of their imitators and several hallways of ancient art from Greece, Rome, and Egypt. If you’re all about modern art, this isn’t the museum for you. But for me, the museum’s focus was perfect; that’s all the stuff I like best! It’s not a huge museum in terms of space, but the collection is huge. I spent three and a half hours there and certainly didn’t see everything. Wandering the hallways and examining the painted scenes from classical mythology, history, the Bible, and so much more was a highlight of the trip.

What I Missed:

  • The Spanish Riding School– I’ve loved horses since I was little, though I never got to do any serious riding. Still, I think horses are beautiful animals, and the Spanish Riding School is famous for its particularly gorgeous horses. The school is famous for its Lipizzan horses and their exquisite dressage training. Dressage is a sport which has been described as a sort of equine ballet, and is supposed to be beautiful in motion. For nearly a hundred years the riding school has offered tickets to public performances and private viewings of training sessions. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see either of those, but I’m sure it would’ve been incredible.

  • Schonbrunn Palace– Though I got to see some of the imperial apartments, I did not visit the actual palace. Schonbrunn Palace and its surrounding gardens was a summer palace for the imperial family from about 1548 to 1918, with several remodels over the years. This enormous palace has so much history in its walls, having played home to famous and important historical figures like Empress Maria Theresa, mother of Marie Antoinette. I really enjoyed what I did see of the imperial apartments, but to see the palace and gardens would’ve been the cherry on top of the cake for sure.

  • Naschmarkt– This one is sort of cheating–I did do Naschmarkt very briefly, but I needed more. Naschmarkt is a big open-air market with tons of fresh food stands, to-go lunch stalls, souvenir tents, and shops with handmade crafts. I walked through Naschmarkt briefly, and got to experience the busy buyers, aggressive sellers, and crowded charm of the market. But I didn’t get to really take my time and wander through the stands, or buy anything. I would’ve loved to spend an hour just roaming, but our weekend was a little too jam-packed.

 

Vienna served as the capital of the powerful Austrio-Hungarian Empire for decades, becoming a center of history, art, classical music, and culture. Though my weekend was a bit drizzly and grey, I had an awesome time visiting museums and exploring the city. Hopefully someday I’ll be back to finish everything else on my list!  

 

Mallory Fitzpatrick is a senior at John Carroll University, who loves reading, writing, and travel. 
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