|I am a day behind so this post if for Thursday, May 3. Again we cruised overnight and awoke to a new city, Vienna. The boat dock is quite a distance from the city, about 20 minutes, so we were back-and-forth on buses. Austria has a population of 8 million people and 2 million of these live in Vienna. We took a mystery tour in the city after breakfast and started at the The Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) which was built in 1891 near the Imperial Palace to house the extensive collections of the imperial family, it is considered one of the most eminent museums in the world. Numerous major art works of European art history, among them Raphael’s "Madonna in the Meadow," Vermeer’s "The Allegory of Painting," the Infanta paintings by Velazquez, masterworks by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian and Tintoretto are housed in the paintings gallery. I sure wished for Rebekah, our art historian daughter-in-law, to be with us to add her wonderful explanations to these paintings. The last piece we saw was the very famous The Saliera of Benvenuto Cellini. I will attach a picture and descriptions for it.
Next we crossed the street to Vienna's Imperial Palace, one of the biggest palace complexes in the world. The oldest parts date to the 13th century, with construction having continued right into the 20th century. The Imperial Palace was the residence and seat of government of the Habsburg emperors until 1918. Today, it is home to numerous museums with outstanding collections, the Spanish Riding School, a congress center, the seat of the Austrian Federal President as well as the historic Heldenplatz.
Then through the streets and to St. Stephen’s Church. St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is not only the main Roman Catholic church in Vienna - and the seat of the city's Archbishop - it's also one of Austria's most popular attractions, welcoming more than a million guests each year. With its 137-meter-high spire and richly decorated roof, it's the city's most important Gothic edifice and represents eight centuries of architectural history. All that remains of the original 13th-century structure are the massive gate and the Heathen Towers. The interior was beautiful and we were lucky enough to be there for a service and to hear the music.
Next, we visited a wine bar that is built above a well stocked WWII bunker. It was a strange feeling thinking that just Austrians hid there listening for the bombing to end. Vienna was finally reached by western Allied bombers in 1944, when the Allied invasion of Italy allowed them to establish an air base at Foggia. By early 1945 Vienna had already faced 1,800 bombs. In February and March 1945, 80,000 tons of bombs were dropped by US and British aircraft, destroying more than 12,000 buildings, and 270,000 people were left homeless.
Ben and I stayed in the city for a few hours, shopping, eating lunch and enjoying Vienna. After a long wait for our bus, due to a wreck earlier in the day, we returned to ship for dinner.
During the evening, we bussed back to Vienna for a Mozart and Strauss concert at a Viennese palace. It was wonderful concert by very talented musicians. The music made us want to try out the waltz steps we had learned the night before. Vienna is such a large part of Vienna’s story and there are many music schools there today.