European way of life

Eurotrip in Central Europe, day 2 : Vienna, a Sisi marathon

A Sisirathon. The Sisirathon is my Viennese marathon entirely devoted to SisiElisabethEmpress of Austria and Queen of Hungary (1854 – 1898). It was the program of my second day in the Austrian capital.

L'impératrice Élisabeth, par Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1865)

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1865)

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

Palais de la Hofburg, Vienne, Autriche  © Eurofluence

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

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.

Palais de la Hofburg, Vienne, Autriche  © Eurofluence

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

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.

Détail des appartements impériaux, Palais de la Hofburg, Vienne, Autriche  © Eurofluence

Details of the imperial apartments, Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

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

Église des Augustins, Vienne, Autriche © Eurofluence

Augustinian church, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

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.

Monument funéraire de l'archiduchesse Marie-Christine, par Canova, Église des Augustins, Vienne, Autriche © Eurofluence

Memorial for the archduchess Maria Christina, by Canova, Augustinian church, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

  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!

Les violettes de l'impératrice, en vente chez Demel, photo de http://www.2travelandeat.com/autriche/cafe.demel.html

The imperial violets, on sale at Demel, photo by http://www.2travelandeat.com/autriche/cafe.demel.html

At the junction between the Kohlmarkt and the Tuchlauben, continue on the Graben, the temple of luxury shopping and famous brands.

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 composerThis area is quieter than the swarming Stefansdom area.

Haas Haus et Stefansdom, Vienne, Autriche © Eurofluence

Haas Haus and Stefansdom, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

It’s time for a deserved lunch to the Mocarello Caffé discovered by walking down the Wollzeile.

Café Mocarello, Vienne, Autriche © Café Mocarello

Mocarello Caffé, Vienna, Austria © Mocarello Caffé

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.

Club sandwich au poulet du Café Mocarello, Vienne, Autriche © Eurofluence

Chicken Club sandwich of the Mocarello Caffé, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

A perfect stop before the next step of the Sisirathon: Schönbrunn. From the Karlplatz, take the U4 subway train, direction Hütteldorf, stop at Schönbrunn and follow the long line of the visitors.

  Schönbrunn, imperial summer residence

Château de Schönbrunn, Vienne, Autriche © Eurofluence

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

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.

Gloriette du Château de Schönbrunn, Vienne, Autriche © Eurofluence

Gloriette of the Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria © Eurofluence

Have a preference for the traditional Viennese cafés in the Innere Stadt, such as the very famous Café Central where I chose to have dinner that evening. But that’s another story…

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