Come and visit Vienna by Monika Ptak

Come, visit Vienna!

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C) A guide By Monika Ptak New York 1977-2002

Vienna counts among the most ancient cultural places in Europe. Already in the aera of the ancient Romans, Vienna - then known as VINDOBONA - was a place of great importance, namely: as a military fortress protecting the northern frontier of the Roman Empire against the Germans.

In 1130, Vienna became the residence of the BABENBERGS, and, herewith, capital of the former OSTMARK, which in 956 was officially documented as OSTERRICHI for the first time.

In 1221, Vienna was granted the "city-right", by which the town gained ist autonomy. This was of greatest importance for commercial development, not only for Vienna itself, but also for the whole of Austria.

As time went by, Vienna became not only a commercial but also a cultural centre. The reign of the Babenbergs was followed by the HABSBURG DYNASTY, who directed the fate of Austria from 1278 to 1918.

Under the reign of the Habsburgs, Austria, and particularly Vienna, reached its cultural climax. From the 18.C on, Vienna advanced to the "CITY OF MUSIC" - a name to which it is still attached today. Great composers - not only Austrians as Mozart and Haydn -, but also a genius like Beethoven, chose Vienna as their residence, and it war here where they wrote their most impressive works. The Habsburg Dynasty sponsored these composers, and many "musical institutions" date back to the imperial dynasty:

In 1498, under Maximilian I, the Vienna's Boys Choir (Saengerknaben) was put together.

- Maximillian's grandson, Maximillian II, initiated in 1522 the famous SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL (Spanische Hofreitschule) that feature the talents of the Lippizaner Horses.

In 1841, due to the initiative of Otto Nicolai and Lenau, the VIENNA PHILIHARMONIC ORCHESTRA (Philharmoniker) was founded. The first concert took place on March 28th 1842; it was conducted by Otto Nicolai, and in his memory the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performs concerts on the last Sunday of March, which is broadcasted to nearly the whole world.

The political importance of Vienna is still reflected in the proud buildings of Schoenbrunn Palace, the Belvedere, as well as the Hofburg - now the home of the Austrian Presidency. Vienna has been a center for international diplomacy. The most famous event to be remembered was the VIENNA CONGRESS (Wiener Kongress) in 1815 hosted by Count Metternich.

Today's Vienna has been presented with famous heritage reaching out to the present and the future. Vienna is still a city of music, culture, commerce and diplomacy. Past, present and future are fitted together to a harmonious unity.

The RATHAUS (City Hall) built in neo-gothic style in the 19th century, is a rallye point for all sorts of events ranging from health fairs to exhibitions, mayday parades and christmas markets. Necessary infos provided by

Take time and visit Vienna! There is so much to be seen:


Beautiful ancient churches include: ST RUPRECHT - the most ancient church in Vienna, built in romanic style.

ST STEPHEN'S CATHEDRAL (STEFANSDOM): is fascinating everybody with its beautiful gothic architecture. Besides, you will find there the biggest organ in the world.

MARIA AM GESTADE - Another beautiful gothic church

KARLSKIRCHE: is reminding of a Moshee


TECHNISCHES MUSEUM  (Technical Museum)
MAK (Applied Arts Museum)

Take the tram that drives a circle line over the famous RINGSTRASSE (=circular street), in order to get its famous and impressive buildings. You will see among others: University, Burgtheater (the National Theatre), Rathaus (Townhall), the Kunsthistorische Museum the Naturhistorische Museum, The Opera, the Stadtpark with its golden Johann Strauss Statue, the Danube Canal at the Schwedenplatz.... Each of them has to tell its own story. Maybe you might want to attend a guided tour in order to know them?



SCHOENBRUNN: also known as "the Viennese Versailles". Its ocre colour is well known. The view from the GLORIETTE offers you a lovely panorama of Vienna. (And whilst you are still there, zebra54 highly recommends you a visit to the SCHOENBRUNNER ZOO which is one of the oldest in the world not only because of the precious baroque architecture, but also to say hi to the zebras living there, ed)

BELVEDERE - Another baroque castle in Vienna by the Schwarzenbergplatz, it is surrounded by a beautiful park, a special curiosity of which is the famous "Alpengarten". The famous picture by Gustav Klimt called "The Kiss" is hanging in the castle.

HOFBURG: In the days of the monarchy, the Hofburg was the residence of the Austrian Emperor; today it is the residence of the Austrian President. A special recommendation to those who love music: every Sunday, at 9am, the Vienna Boys Choir is singing mass at the Hofburg Chapel. Do reserve your tickets early! The Hofburg also hosts the SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL. And there you will also find the NATIONAL LIBRARY too. Last but not least, you also have to know that the Hofburg is the center of international conferences, congresses and meetings. E.g. the SAL-TALKS were held there.

If you want to get to know some typical Viennese atmosphere, then pay a visit to the PRATER,

And if it is a nice summer evening, then go to a HEURIGER in the outskirts called Grinzing, Nussdorf, Hernals...This is something unique for Austria and you will not find it anywhere else in the world - it is a must.

And if it rains, or you are cold, then the place to be is at a cafe and dream about as you read the papers, best at the HAWELKA, CENTRAL, PRUECKEL, LANDTMANN, CAFE MOZART, WESTEND CAFE, SCHWARZEN KAMEL . A whole literature has been made about it - you might meet the creme de la creme of the bygone days and discuss complicated books

The Viennese cuisine is famous and well-known all over the world. An institution downtown are the WIENERWALD RESTAURANTS, that offer food at excellent prices in a homely atmosphere. There are several GASTHAUS, the BEISL and others... Nice places to have dinner are the KAHLENBERG, the RATHAUSKELLER, the FEUERVOGEL,  - to mention only a few.

Important:if you are in Vienna, do not miss a Wiener Jause, that is a long coffee break which you can take with a delicious cake, best recommended sugarbakers are SACHER and DEMEL. Sweet souvenirs can be bought at HEINDL, HOFBAUER, ANKER,  -

As Vienna is known all over the world as the city of music, it should be obvious that everyone coming to Vienna is attending a performance either at the OPERA (STAATSOPER)  or the VOLKSOPER - or if you are more fond of plays and musicals, then go to the BURGTHEATER for drama, the JOSEFSTADT for comedy, the THEATER AN DER WIEN is currently playing musicals, the RONACHER is for Variete and the CABARET SIMPL for cabaret of course, and VINDOBONA.

If you like classical dance, the VOLKSGARTEN might offer you some welcomed possibility. Do go there alone - it is much nice with company.

Vienna is rather well-known as the city where you can get more for your money - if you know the right places where to buy what. In the MARIAHILFERSTRASSE you wil find the big department stores like GERNGROSS and EUROPA CENTRE with all the high street brands...


Monika Ptak says:
"And when you are there, then think of me and transmit the very best regard to my beloved hometown: to my Vienna!

Monika Ptak now Monika Sommereder, who lived in NYC in the seventies as she was working there, now back to Vienna - made this essay available to Zebra54 in 2002. Thank you, Monika!