Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Vienna - A Day in the Sun

Enjoyable as the previous day's events had been, yesterday was a little gloomy and windy at times.  On our second day in Vienna (8th January) the sun was shining.  It wasn't particularly warm, but it was certainly bright.   As our hotel was only 2 minutes away from the cathedral that seemed an obvious place to start.

The cathedral was started in 1137 but extensive modifications continued until the early 1500s.  Not surprisingly it shows a mix of Romanesque and the later Gothic styles.  The roof is ornately patterned with glazed tiles.  On the southern side is the double-headed eagle which was the symbol of the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled by the Habsburg dynasty; on the northern roof face are shown the Coat of Arms of Austria and those of the City of Vienna.  The roof and some other parts of the building were damaged in 1945.

St Stephen's Cathedral, ("Stephansdom") Vienna

Looking down the central aisle towards the altar

The organ (1960, rebuilt 1991) and a stained glass window

View from the platform near the top of the North Tower

Coloured roofing tiles.  As the roof is steeply pitched snow rarely accumulates.
Overnight the fog rolled in, obscuring the details on the roof.  The
double-headed eagle was the symbol of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Just a few minutes' walk away from the large Romanesque-Gothic cathedral is a very different style of church.  Peterskirche (St Peter's Church) was built in the prevailing Baroque style between 1701 and 1733 on a site on which at least two older churches had stood.  It was the first domed structure in Vienna when built.

In the evening we attended a short concert for organ and soprano and can attest that the organ has a particular fine sound.

Peterskirche, Vienna

The Baroque decorations on and around the altar.

The pulpit of Peterskirche

The organ loft and singers' gallery of Peterskirche.

It was a surprise to find that the famous "Anker Clock" in Hohermarkt was only completed in 1914.  It looks older than that, partly because of the choice of characters chosen to parade across the face of the clock at midday.  A different historical figure is displayed on the clock for each hour and you can see the next and the previous figures coming and going.  At 12 noon the musical clock plays a tune (including seasonal tunes at Christmas) and all 12 figures parade slowly across the face.  Some of the names would only be known to local people with a sense of history but others are more widely know.  These include (Roman) Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Charlemagne, Empress Maria Theresia and Mr Joseph Haydn.

The clock above the laneway.  Joseph Haydn is waiting in the wings to appear.

Female figure - that must be the Empress Maria Theresia
By now it was time to think about lunch so we walked to the Naschmarkt which has grown from its small start in the 16th century to a diverse specialty market of over 100 food stall, wine shops and restaurants. 

On the way to the Naschmarkt we passed the Secession Building.  This was built in the
Art Nouveau style as an exhibition hall and cultural statement in 1897 proclaiming the work
of the young artists and architects who formed the "Viennese Seccession" movement of design.
The Secession Building façade with the motto of the movement:
"To every age its art, to every art its freedom" 

This elegant building which would look right at home in Paris
looks over both the Naschmarkt and the secession Building.

The entrance to one section of the market.

Wooden barrels of sauerkraut and of pickled gherkins in the market.
Our next attraction would not look out of place in Rome, not only because of the overall appearance of this elegant Baroque church (1737) which hints at influences bu Borromini and Bernini, but because the twin columns with the spiralling bas-reliefs which tell the story of Saint Charles Borromeo look like the Trajan's Column not far from the Roman Forum.

The dome and the top of the right column, Karlskirche.

An angel holds a cross at the entrance to the church.
 As the beautiful afternoon light slipped away our walk back to city centre took us past some more memorials to great musical figures in Vienna.

These little cherubic figures around the base of this monument
seem strangely at odds with the figure above them.

The memorial to Beethoven was unveiled in 1880, over 50 years
after his death.  The pose (with slight scowl) is a little reminiscent
of Michelangelo's famous statue of "Moses" in Rome.

Beethoven's statue is in his very own "square"

Johann Strauss II, the "Viennese Waltz King".
I prefer the massive solemnity of the Beethoven bronze to glitzy gold.

The Austrian composer Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)

Robert Stolz (1880-1975)
Songwriter, composer, conductor.

Composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

 After a day of walking in the crisp air we had built up quite an appetite, but our "capacity" was soon to be put to the test.  Not far from our hotel was an old and famous Viennese restaurant which we felt we should visit.  We hoped to get a table without prior reservation by arriving early and beating the rush.

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (1858)
Next door to the Greek Church, and set back a little in a lane, is the restaurant "Griechenbeisl", or the Greek Beisl (Inn).  The inn was established in 1447 and has been popular with local people and visitors ever since.  Mozart's signature is scrawled on the wall and famous patrons of past centuries were Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner, Strauss, Brahms, Mark Twain and Graf Zeppelin.  Photos of more recent famous patrons line the walls.  

Griechenbeisl nestles beside the Orthodox Church

The famous popular song "Oh du lieber Augustin"
is believed to have been composed and sung here.
The inn was like a rabbit warren inside.  From the small courtyard with outdoor dining area (not in winter) we entered a collection of small rooms which were packed with diners, even at an early hour.  We managed to get a small table at the far corner of a distant room and chose typical Viennese dishes for which the inn is famous.  The schnitzel was huge, but my "Spanferkelstelze mit Chorizo-Grammelkraut" (Roast suckling pig leg ("knuckle") with creamy chorizo cabbage) was enormous, eventually defeating me.  Visiting diners (like us) come to savour the charm of this centuries-old establishment but the price of popularity is the loss of charm.  It was interesting but very rushed, crowded and noisy.  My dish was delicious and well cooked but Judy's schnitzel lacked the finesse of a chef in a less busy kitchen.

With full stomachs we returned to our hotel to prepare for the next day.

Paul & Judy
January 2016

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