What better month to start my virtual trip to Austria than in the month of love? Amongst the number of european cities I’ve visited, for me Vienna, Austria was by far the most romantic city of all. Even more romantic than Paris. You could wonder if it perhaps depended on whom I went on the trip with? My answer is no. These were cities I went around exploring on my own and cities I grew in love with. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris, but somehow I love Vienna more. It’s one of those things you just don’t know why, but you do.
To understand a city, one must first know a little of its history so here’s a brief primer. Originating as a Celtic settlement before turning into a major trading center under the Babenberg dynasty, the city became the Imperial city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The empire ruled from the 13th century to the 18th century and spread from modern day Italy to Russia and even encompassed Bosnia. Threatened by the Turks, the empire survived and did not collapse until after World War I. It was then later annexed by Nazi Germany in the “Anchluss” of 1938. As a result, buildings were spared from bombings and their rich cultural past remains intact for all to see.
When walking around the old town of cobbled streets, you can feel history in the air. Austria has a rich coffee culture which dates back to the time of the Turks, museums filled with artwork that just take your breath away and music that is second to none. This is the country of Mozart, Johann Strauss and Beethoven. This is where the debutante ball originated with the famous Viennese Opera Ball (still held every year) and the New Year’s Eve Concert is still played annually.
Not only did music strive in Austria, so did the arts. This is the birthplace of revolutionary new styles of the Art Nouveau. Gustav Klimt and “The Kiss” were created there. Otto Wagner the architect and the Winer Werkstatte created beautiful buildings and pieces of furniture with curves and square edges. I love their style. This later spread on to Brussels where I first discovered Art Nouveau. In that same period, Sigmund Freud too developed his theory of pyschoanalysis in Vienna. I saw his house.
There are so many sides, so many aspects of Austria one could spend years, but I have only a few minutes of your time and so for tonight I shall end it here. Tomorrow I shall take you on a brief tour of the Old Town. In the meantime, let us pack our bags, clear out our minds and get ready for this virtual trip to Romantic Vienna. 🙂