Eastern Europe Part 2 travel blog

Hofburg Chapel

Vienna Boys Choir

State Dinner Service

Augustinian Church

Crown of Rudolph II

We started our day attending High Mass at the Hofburg Chapel of the Imperial Palace where members of the the Vienna Boys Choir and the orchestra and choir of the State Opera perform on Sundays and religious holidays. We had not ordered tickets in advance so we took our chances and stood in line. We did get into the standing room where we could hear, but not see, the choirs and orchestra. No problem as we had come to hear the music. I only lasted about 20 minutes but Judi C almost made it through the whole mass. There were seats and a monitor in the nave so I was could see and hear everthing.

From there we headed over to the Choral Mass at the Augustian Church where they have a full orchestra and choir. The music was really powerful. You didn't need tickets and the church was packed. However they did ask for donations for the music program.

Next was the Hofburg Palace where we visited Silver Collecion, the Imperial Apartments, and the Treasury. After the end of the Hapsburg monarchy in 1918 the court household was dissolved and the imperial holdings passed into the ownership of the Austrian Republic. While a number of items were sold off, the majority remained in the Court Silver and Table Room and eventually opened to the public as the Silver Collection in 1995. There is an incredible display of dishes, glasses, cutlery, serving dishes, and linens that go on for what seems like forever. There are around 7,000 items from the total of 150,000 in the collection’s holdings on display in an area of 1,300 m². However, the most famous piece, the 30 meter Milan centerpiece was not on display due to roof repair work. But what we did see was pretty spectacular. What I found particulary interesting was the state visit service for state visits of crown heads when the emperor was present. There is a special folded napkin that holds bread rolls and is a state secret handed down by mouth.

After a "quick" lunch of goulash soup and rolls, we went to the Imperial Apartments which are the winter residence for the royal family and are the downtown version of the grander Schonbrunn Palace, the summer residence. The first six rooms tell the life story of Empress Elizabeth, the colorful, lengendary and independent wife of Emperor Franz Joseph. She was assassinated in 1898 in Geneva, Switzerland and was revered more in death than in life. She could have been a 19th-century Princess Diana. The rest of the rooms are what you would expect for a Royal Palace--quite opulent and interesting to see up to a point.

The Treasury (the Secular and Religious Treasure Room) contains the best jewels on the Continent. 21 rooms are filled with scepters, swords, crowns, orbs, weighty robes, double-headed eagles, gowns, gem-studded bangles, an eight-foot-tall "unicorn" horn and coronation vestments and regalia that were owned by the Holy Roman Emperor. Highlights were the personal crown of Rudolph II that has survived since 1602, the 10th-century crown of the Holy Roman Emperor, the 11th-century Imperial Cross, and the incredible workmanship on the vast collection of robes and tapestries.

By now we needed to get off our feet for a while so it was back to the apartment for a little wine, cheese, and grapes. Then it was to the grocery store for a few things we needed for the rest of our stay--an apple, some bread, shower gel, and paper towels. Our usual market was closed on Sundays so we walked across town to another branch of the same market that was open. We were able to get an apple and bread but the section with paper towels and soap is closed on Sundays ???? On the way home we stopped at a recommended neighborhood restaurant for dinner. Judi C has salmon and beer and I had sausauges, potatoes and sauerkraut which was really good. The salmon was good but salty. Another good, busy day and two tired travellers. JB

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