1938, 200,000 Viennese gathered in the Heldenplatz to watch Adolf Hitler give a speech from the balcony of the New Palace (pictured above). Austria had been annexed to Germany and Hitler proclaimed that “…One of the pearls of the Third Reich will be Vienna”. At this point, the word “Austria” was forbidden to be spoken, much like the term “Voldemort” in the Harry Potter series (for our younger readers). And so a blog title is borne.
Today, we walked the streets of Vienna. We began at the Opera House. If there is any question about where the world capital of music is located, just ask a madrigal walking the streets of Vienna. Not only will they tell you where it is (Vienna), but they’ll sell you a ticket as well. They will speak fluent English in doing so, and once engaged, they’re hard to shake. The Opera House was built in 1869, Neo-Renaissance style and has hosted the likes of Pavarotti, Domingo, and others.
Our stroll took us past various churches, monuments, and other notable sites. The first monument was the Monument Against War and Fascism. This was a dark monument reminding us of the consequence of not keeping our governments on track. It includes concentration camps, WWI gas masks, and human rights tragedies over a site where several hundred people were buried alive during WWII bombings.
Another monument was the Holy Trinity Plague Column. This monument was dedicated by the inbred emperor Leopold I after Vienna lost 75,000 people to the bubonic plague in 1679. The emperor can be identified on the statue by his gaping underbite due to royal inbreeding. He dropped to his knees during the plague and begged God to save the city. Two-thirds of the city survived, so he dedicated this monument.
A couple of fun sites were Loos’ Loos, water closets built in old wine cellars by architect Adolf Loos, featuring chandeliers and mahogany walls. Brenna and Scarlet ventured down the stairs to try them out – at 50 euro-cents a visit.
Circling back to the Hofburg Palace, we were treated to the excavated remnants of the 1st century Roman foundations. The palace plaza exists over the top of these ruins and is absolutely fantastic.
The Palace itself goes on forever. It includes Imperial Apartments, the Spanish Riding School, a treasury, a music chapel (where the Vienna Boys’ Choir sings on Sundays), and more. We walked through the area today and will explore a bit more deeply in the coming days.
On our walk home, we passed the parliament, city hall, and another cathedral (which we toured on our own). There is no lack of huge, beautiful buildings here in Vienna and we look forward to more touring. Upon our return to the flat, we found a flier on the door from a local pizza joint. Elizabeth noticed that it features the “Indiana” under its American Pizzas. Had we not blown through our eat-out budget on day one, we just might have sprung for the pizza topped with tomaten, kase, melanzani, schafskase, and scharfpfefferoni.