July 2007

In July we took our monthly trip to Vienna during a heat wave. The first two days the temperatures were over 100 degress and we were staying in a hotel room on the 6th floor without any air conditioning. It was Tom's first trip to Austria but Susan had been there a few times before.

The Staatsoper (The State Opera House) is one of the best and most famous opera houses in the world. It was almost completely destroyed during WWII but the interior is still quite plush. As you can see there are busts of famous composers throughout the house along with beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings.

As part of our bus tour of Vienna we went to the Schonbrunn Palace, the Versailles of Vienna. The palace was built in the early 1700's and the Habsburgs lived in the palace until Kaiser Franz Josef died in 1916. The picture you see is from the back of the palace through the formal gardens up to the Gloriette, which houses a cafe and allows a great view of the city. We wished we had more time to spend at the grounds as there is a zoo, fountains and the Imperial Coach collection to see in addition to the main Palace.

Another picture near the Schonbrunn Palace, this time from the front so you can actually see the Palace. This gives you a better appreciation for the size of the building.

One of the days was spent on an 8 hour tour up the Danube river. Along the banks of the river you can see ruins of castles, old building as well as working vineyards.

As mentioned before, on the Danube river cruise there was alot to see on the banks. In this case you can see a beautiful old building perched on a rocky cliff.

Our final destination on the river tour was the Benedictine monastery at Melk. We spent a bit of time touring the monastery, an abbey was founded at this site in 1089, but the current building is from 1736. Inside the monastery there are impressive frescoes along with a huge old library.

A view of the town of Melk from the monastery. We did not spend enough time in the area to walk around the town, but if we go back to Austria we would like to actually drive through these small towns and stop for a bit.

One final picture from the monastery, this time from the outside showing the church.

Right in the middle of Vienna is the 13th century St. Stephen's Cathedral, one of Vienna's landmarks. We took a 30 minute tour of the Cathedral and despite wartime damage, the building still has a medieval appearance and feel.

St. Charles Church (Karlskirche) was built around 1715 under the reign of Charles VI after the last great plague in honor of his patron saint Charles Borromeo. The baroque facade and the large twin columns make this church instantly identifiable.

The anchor clock was built in the early 1900's. In the course of 12 hours, 12 different figures move across the bridge and at noon all of the figures parade across accompanied by music.

The Imperial Palace (Hofburg Palace) was a complex of multiple buildings in central Vienna where the Viennese emperors and family spent the majority of their time.

Another picture of the Imperial Palace, this time it is the St. Michaels' Gate the principal gateway to the complex that leads to the vast courtyards.

Our final picture of the Imperial Palace which now houses the library.

Inside the Palace is a museum with artifacts from the Austrian royalty. Here is a picture of one of the oldest imperial crowns in the world, it dates from the 900's.

A view of the front of Belvedere Palace, which is on the outskirts of Vienna. The palace was built in the early 1700's for Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was actually a Frenchman by birth employed as a general in the Austrian army.

From the balcony of the Belvedere Palace, you get this view of both Vienna and the gardens.