Sunday Morning: Vienna-Style
Johann Strauss Statue
This famous golden statue of Johann Strauss with his violin sits outside the Kursalon in Vienna's City Park
Vienna is a city with a rich culture you can almost inhale and a vivid history you can practically touch. As I walked out of my hotel on a Sunday morning, I decided to skip the sights and immerse myself in Vienna's wealth of cultural offerings.
I kicked off my day with Mass at the Hofburg Palace's Imperial Music Chapel, where the Vienna Boys' Choir sings each Sunday morning throughout their season. I didn't actually see the boys -- no one in the church did -- as they sang like angels from the loft in the rear. But, just like you don't need to see the sun to know it's there on a gorgeous day, you don't need to watch the boys to enjoy their delicately beautiful music. Their voices blended perfectly with the scene in front of us: sunlight streaming through the windows, making it seem as if the Baroque starburst of gilded statuary was bursting over the altar.
Energized, I ducked through a royal passageway to see a performance of the much-loved Lipizzaner stallions at the
As I watched the stallions prance to classical music under lavish chandeliers, it occurred to me that they move in 4:4, not 3:4 time -- even though this is the city of waltz. From my
After the show, I strolled about 100 yards to the
I headed to the Burggarten for lunch. Once the backyard of the Hofburg, the Burggarten is now a grassy people's park. After eating lunch under the palm trees in the emperors' conservatory (at
Another ritual is a stop at
Not only did Vienna host some of the greatest (or evil) thinkers of the time, but it was also home to many famous composers -- from
This musical tradition continues into modern times. Even now, you'll find melodic treats wherever you turn. For instance, at the Kursalon, in Vienna's City Park, you can enjoy crowd-pleasing Strauss concerts featuring a mix of ballet, waltzes, and a 15-piece orchestra. The tradition goes back more than a century, when Strauss himself directed concerts in the very same building.
The Vienna Opera is arguably the world's greatest. Even if you don't have time or money for a performance, a visit here is a must. Built in the 1860s, the sumptuous opera house is the pride of Vienna. You can simply admire the Neo-Renaissance building from the outside or take a guided tour of the grand interior, with its chandeliered lobby and carpeted staircases.
On this particular Sunday, the Opera was doing an afternoon performance of
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(c) 2010 RICK STEVES DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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