Vienna: the attractions and things to do in the City of Dreams

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When you’re traveling through Europe, all you wanna do is get to know local traditions, cultures, historical facts and people from each capital you’re visiting. Every single city in Europe has its own history, its architectural style, its buildings, squares and monuments to see, typical dishes to taste, events… but Vienna is still one of the most popular location also because of some magical feelings you have while walking through its streets..

Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria and it is also the 7th-largest city by population in the European Union. It is located in the eastern part of the country, close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, on the Danube River. Nowadays it’s a primary city as well as an important cultural, economic and political center in the European Union, but in the past it has been regarded as the “City of Music – because of its artistic and musical scene, animated by great compositors such as Mozart or Beethoven – and “The City of Dreams” too, because it was home to the world’s first psychotherapist, Sigmund Freud. The city’s historical roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that, during the following centuries, transformed it into a Medieval and Baroque city, before it became the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

If you love theatre, Vienna is the city you’ve been looking for: this capital is famous for its theatres, operas, classical music and fine art traditions. Besides its theaters – The BurgtheaterThe Volkstheater Wien, the Theater in der Josefstadt and many others – you can fine also important opera houses – Theater an der Wien, the Staatsoper and The Volksoper. If you are interested in classical music, there are some concerts performed in world-famous venues such as TheWiener Musikverein which is famous for being home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the Wiener Konzerthaus, which is home of the internationally renowned Vienna Symphony. Most of the concert venues offer popular highlights of Viennese music, particularly the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss I, and Johann Strauss II.

The Burgtheater. Photo credit: aj82 on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Besides music, you may prefer to spend the day in a museum in order to know something more about Austrian history, The first option here would be The Hofburg, where the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer) is located: there you’ll have the chance to admire the imperial jewels of the Habsburg dynasty. Also, The Sisi Museum – devoted to Empress Elisabeth of Austria – allows you to see the imperial apartments as well as the silver cabinet. Anyway, there is a good number of museums dedicated to art too: in The Museumsquartier, – the former Imperial Stalls which were converted into a museum complex in the 1990s –  you can find The Museum of Modern Art, commonly known as the MUMOKThe Leopold Museum, which collects the largest collection of paintings in the world by Egon Schiele, as well as works by the Vienna Secession, Viennese Modernism and Austrian Expressionism), The AzW – the museum of architecture. The Liechtenstein Palace, instead, contains much of one of the world’s largest private art collections, especially strong in the Baroque, while Castle Belvedere has a great gallery collecting paintings by Gustav Klimt, Schiele, and other painters of the early XX century, as well as some sculptures by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.

Obviously, major tourist attractions include the imperial palaces of The Hofburg and Schönbrunn and The Riesenrad in The Prater, as well as cultural highlights include The BurgtheaterThe Wiener Staatsoper, the Lipizzaner horses at the Spanische Hofreitschule.

Of course, you can also spend your days outside, visiting one of the beautiful parks in Vienna: there’s nothing better than a good walk among the trees to see a European capital at its best. Vienna actually offers many parks, including the Stadtpark, the Burggarten, the Volksgarten, the Schlosspark – where are set the Vienna Botanic Gardens -, the Donaupark, the Schönbrunner SchlossparkThe Prater, the Augarten, the Rathauspark, the Lainzer Tiergarten and many others… You just have to hang around the city and choose where to stay!

Castle Belvedere

Last but not least, if you’re in Europe you certainly would like to taste something from the typical cuisine…You can start from a very well known dish, the wiener schnitzel, which is a cutlet of veal or pork pounded flat, coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, and then fried in clarified butter. Generally you can find it in almost every restaurant that serves Viennese cuisine and can be eaten hot or cold. In alternative to this, you can try tafelspitz (very lean boiled beef), a dish which is traditionally served with geröstete erdäpfel – boiled potatoes mashed with a fork and subsequently fried – horseradish sauce and schnittlauchsauce. At the end of the meal, you just cannot miss a good piece of cake: as you probably know, Vienna has a long tradition of cakes and desserts, especially for hot apple strudel, milk-cream strudel and sweet pancakes. But the most famous and typical – and delicious – dessert in Vienna is sachertorte, a delicately moist chocolate cake with apricot jam in the middle, that was created by the Sacher Hotel -which remains the best place where to taste it, maybe with a good cup of hot tea.

The famous sachertorte

Vienna is a magical European capital that offers many experiences as its full of culture, music tradition, historical places, buildings and museum to visit. While you’re staying in this city, you have the chance to get to know the deep European culture, to admire the architectural  masterpieces of the old Europe and to taste some typical dishes to make a full-immersion into the EU spirit too.

If you’re planning your trip to Europe, make sure to visit Vienna! Check out the Lonely Planet official site and get inspired for your journey.

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