A Sisirathon. The Sisirathon is my Viennese marathon entirely devoted to Sisi – Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary (1854 – 1898). It was the program of my second day in the Austrian capital.
It is possible to visit the two main palaces of Vienna, the Hofburg and Schönbruun in just one day. You just have to like trekking walking and paying for steep tickets. Get some information about ticket prices. There are some special tickets, as the « Sisi ticket » for example, to visit both palaces. I forgot to focus on these things before I went, and… I regretted it. Once on the spot, I didn’t understand anything to the different tickets prices and I think I paid too much. I bought a ticket for an adult at the Hofburg (11,50€) and a Classic Pass at Schönbrunn (18,50€): 30€ on average for my Sisirathon…
The Hofburg, imperial winter residence
The Hofburg palace is a city within the city: the imperial winter residence has approximately 2 600 rooms and 18 wings. Don’t worry; only 20 rooms in the imperial apartments are currently open to the public. The imperial silver collection displays the lavish luxury of the imperial table through crockery heaps that will attract you to the Sisi Museum, which celebrates this year its tenth anniversary.
This big reliquary occupies six rooms of the imperial apartments: clothes, accessories, jewelry, correspondence and everyday documents… Everything is here devoted to the Empress, formerly hated by Austrians and now beloved. The scenography is modern, but a little dark all the same, like Sisi’s personality.
On the other hand, the itinerary is absolutely not adapted for group visits. They imprison the individual visitors, who are bereaved of the quietness needed for the visit. The Hofburg is rather a masculine palace, quite severe, and leaves you a little bit dissatisfied: one would appreciate a richer itinerary, more diversified, which would allows a better understanding of the court ceremonial and the imperial way of life beyond Franz-Joseph’s reign. Especially when we know that the Hofburg Palace has been the residence of the Habsbourg family for 600 years.
The Augustinian church
Without leaving the Hofburg Palace area, take a look to the Augustinian church (Augustinerkirche), the former parish church of the Habsourg family, restaured in a neo-Gothic style under Joseph II (1765 – 1790). See the little lateral altar built in 2004 in the memory of Charles the 1st, last emperor of Austria-Hungary and « Prince of the Peace », and the beautiful memorial for the archduchess Maria Christina, sister of Marie-Antoinette, a neo-classical masterpiece sculpted by the Venitian Canova in Carrara marble at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Franz Schubert also composed a Mass here.
Shopping am Graben
In front of the Hofburg Palace, walk around the very chic Kohlmarkt avenue, whose old shops still remind us of the fin de siecle Vienna, as the famous pastry shop Demel, formerly the official supplier of the imperial court. It is an unavoidable stop in the Sisirathon, since the Empress bought her favorite candy there: crystallized violets. You can still buy them, but they are quite expensive!
At lunch time, walk around the St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stefansdom) up to the Mozarthaus in the Domgasse, the house where Mozart lived in 1784, now a museum devoted to the memory of the great composer. This area is quieter than the swarming Stefansdom area.
Ideally located, the Mocarello Caffé offers quality homemade meals and snacks, prepared in front of you. The healthy menus are served in a lounge atmosphere and the staff is thoughtful and discreet; they speak German and English at least.
Schönbrunn, imperial summer residence
If you arrived in Vienna by plane, maybe you saw this imperial summer residence, which was supposed to be the Austrian Versailles. A less ambitious project was finally taken on at the end of the 17th century. Don’t compare Versailles to Schönbrunn, cosier and more family. The palace has 1 441 rooms but only 42 are open to the public, as well as the gardens, which give to Schönbrunn its name of « good fountain ».
Try to climb up to the « Gloriette » from where you can appreciate a beautiful perspective and an unobstructed view on Vienna. If you’re not afraid of the wind, wander on the terrace of this neo-classical gem. The Gloriette Café, on the other hand, does not deserve your attention and doesn’t offer any interesting products. It’s a pity, because the surroundings are beautiful.