Vienna is a city with a colourful history. It used to be the capital of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, and you can still feel the imperial flair of those times today. Most historical places have been transformed into museums and exhibition halls, which are open to the public and certainly worth checking out. Our Vienna local Michael recommends visiting the following places to get a feel for the city’s imperial past.
1. Take a stroll through the scenic Augarten public park
The word “park” doesn’t really do this place justice. Its walkways, flowerbeds, trees and bushes create a magical labyrinth. It’s a breathtaking place in summer with all its greenery, but equally as beautiful in winter when everything is covered in sparkling white snow. The unattractive grey tower is a relic and constant reminder of WWII. It used to be a bunker for the Viennese population, being designed to withstand a bombardment.
Photo credit: fortysix_vie
2. Spend a day at Schönbrunn Zoo
Founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752, this place is the oldest zoo in the world. It’s located on the grounds of Scönbrunn Palace, hence the name. Even though it’s one of the most popular attractions in Vienna, don’t mistake it for a tourist trap – it’s popular due to its sheer magnificence. It’s one of the few zoos in the world with giant pandas – how cute is that! In addition to housing all kinds of cool animals, the architecture and surroundings are marvellous.
Photo credit: Kaiserpavillon Tiergarten Schönbrunn
3. Have a cup of traditional Viennese coffee at Café Sperl
Being open from 7 am every day except Sunday, Café Sperl is the perfect spot for your early morning coffee. They offer more than 30 varieties of coffee drinks, so be specific when ordering! Try some of the local specialities like Maria Theresia, Fiaker or Pharisäer. They also have delicious cakes to accompany your coffee.
Photo credit: Cafe Sperl Vienna
4. Discover the dark side of Vienna at Kaisergruft
This unique crypt was built especially for the emperors of the Habsburg monarchy and their close relatives. The imperial coffins are fine works of craftsmanship, perfected with ornaments, crowns, skulls and other intricate details. The most precious tomb is that of Maria Theresia and her husband – it’s the size of a car!
Photo credit: Kapuzinerkirche und Kaisergruft
5. Take a break at Burggarten
Situated right in the heart of Vienna, Burggarten is one of the favourite green spots in the city among locals. Formerly the private garden of the emperor of Austria, nowadays it’s open to the public and everyone is welcome to sit on the grass and relax. It’s also a great spot for picnics and outdoor workouts.
Photo credit: Wikimedia
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