“The streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt.” – Karl Kraus
Vienna holds a special little place in our hearts and with the sun out and wanderlust daydreaming at an ultimate high we thought it was time to jot down our favourite 10 things about one of our favourite places.
Vienna is the capital of Austria and the largest city in the country. Dubbed ‘the city of dreams’ it’s a place that draws culture enthusiasts year after year. From coffee to mechanical sweeties, here are ten reasons to visit (and fall in love with) Vienna…
1) Song and Dance
As we said, Vienna has long been known as ‘the city of music’. The city was home to many great composers of the classical music era during the 19th century era, such as Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven (we’re betting you’ve heard of that guy.) It continues to be a place that draws music enthusiasts from all over the world with incredible venues such as the State Opera House, the People’s Opera House, the Burgtheatr and the Theater an der Wien.
But where would music be without dancing? The Viennese Waltz is, of course, a well-known reason to love Vienna. The Viennese waltz was the first ballroom dance to be danced in the ‘waltz’ position and is characterised by its faster tempo.
While the architecture in Vienna ranges from old to new, our favourite sites are the castles and palaces that exist as breathtaking throwbacks to a bygone era. The decorative baroque style dominates the city and can be seen all over Vienna. The Belvedere Castle, the Schonbrunn Palace and St Charles’s Church look like must-sees!
If you’re a bit of a Romantic at heart this one might be up your street. Each winter over 400 balls are staged around Vienna, attracting more than 300,000 visitors from all over the world. The tradition of the balls dates back to the 18th century and many of the original elements of the balls still exist today- one such element is the “damenspende” which is the giving of a selected gift to each lady as she enters the room (sounds like our kind of party). Nowhere in the world still hosts balls to this extent and there’s soemthing timelessly romantic about the whole idea. We’re envisioning Anastasia meets Cinderella but just without the lost shoe incident.
And, of course, evening gloves are a must at these balls which is another reason to visit the extraordinary events!
“The best coffee in Europe is Vienna coffee, compared to which all other coffee is fluid poverty.” – Mark Twain
We’re thinking Mark Twain was, perhaps, a little too harsh but the truth is if you’re a coffee enthusiast Vienna might just be the place for you. The Viennese Coffee House has long been a staple of Viennese culture. Since October 2011 the “Viennese Coffee House Culture” is listed as “Intangible Cultural Heritage” and described as a place “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.” There’s always a wide variety of coffee drinks, international newspapers and yummy pastries on the menu. A Viennese specialty is an Einspanner Coffee which is a strong black coffee served in a glass with whipped cream and powdered sugar.
5) Wine Country
If Coffee doesn’t float your boat and you’re lookin’ for the hard stuff Vienna is the only capital city in the world with it’s own significant wine production within it’s city limits. Grapes were cultivated in the city as early as 1132 AD and recently there has been a trend towards recultivation. Viennese wine is now counted among the finest wines in the world. There’s over 180 wine taverns to visit in the city (the ultimate bar crawl you could say).
Vienna is home to over 100 different museums that celebrate everything from Art to Food. One of the must-see museums in Vienna is the ‘Sisi Museum’ which celebrates the life and legend of Empress Elisabeth ‘SiSi’ Habsburg. There is also the ‘museums quartier’ within which you can find 7 different museums, and the ‘naturhistoriches museum’ which is a natural history museum hosting over 5,000 objects on display.
7) Wiener Schnitzel
If you’re a foody there is one seriously good reason to love Vienna- Wiener Schnitzel. Unless you’re a vegetarian and then I’m sure there is something equally as delicious waiting in Vienna for you. It’s one of the best known specialties of Viennese cuisine and is the national dish of Austria. It’s a very thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet and it is TRULY delicious.
8) Snow Globes
Christmas in a small round ball. Ever wondered where those magical little globes originated? Vienna of course. Erwin Perzy came up with the idea by accident in 1900 and his grand-son still runs a snow globe company in Austria. Their globes are hand-painted and are made of glass, rather than plastic like other, more modern snow globes.
Pez is the name of a world-famous mechanical candy and if you hadn’t heard of it we’d be pretty surprised. Pez was first sold as a compressed peppermint sweet in 1927 by Austrian candy maker Eduard Haas III. It was in 1955 that the famous heads were added to the dispensers and the rest, as they say, is history. So, next time you flip open your hello-kitty headed pez dispenser… think of Ed.
10) Cornelia James
Finally… if you needed any more reasons to fall in love with this city remember that Vienna was once the home of the one and only, Cornelia James. Cornelia James studied art and design in Vienna before fleeing her native home in 1939 with a bag full of fabrics and a head full of ideas. Perhaps the elegance of such a beautiful city lived on in her designs.