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Published: December 10th 2008
We started the day bright and early determined to cram in everything possible, had breakfast in the hostel before braving the Austrian metrosystem which proved to be ridiculously easy to navigate in comparison to the London tubes.
The Gothic cathedral, Stephansdom, is the tallest building in the Innere Stadt of Vienna. The first church was built here in the 12th century, the current structure dates from 1304 when a Gothic building was erected around the earlier Romanesque structure which was subsequently dismantled and removed from the interior of the larger church.
I can't say it struck me as anything other than impressively dark and forboding - Gothic has never been the most appealing architectural style although Vienna became a lot prettier once we arrived at the Hofburg.
One of the most impressive things about Stephansdom is the patterned and tiled roof. This is 110m long and covered in 230,000 glazed tiles. The original 15th century roof, said to be modeled on a Saracen carpet, was destroyed by fire at the end of WWII. It was replaced in 1950 and made so that the roof is so steep that snow never settles on it.
We went into the
church, surprisingly not being caught by the clothes police who usually make you cover up every inch of skin, but there was a mass in session. There was an annoying amount of tourists in miniskirts - unbelievable really seeing as last time I was yelled at for being in a short sleeved t-shirt!
Onto the Baroque period in the form of the Peterskirche, the design of which was originally based on St. Peter's in Rome. Not the most prepossessing building from outside but an absolutely incredible (if slightly garish) interior.
Although the current church was only built in the early 1700s it is built on the oldest sacred site in Vienna on which a church has stood since the 4th century.
Although the historic centre looks surprisingly small in the guidebook my feet were ready to give out by the time we finally made it to the Hofburg so we stopped for cups of tea first (there's only so much an English person can do before they need their next tea fix!)
We decided to leave the Hofburg interior until the following day and try and get the majority of the walking out of the way
first before we run out of steam. Managed to run into the horses on their way to rehearsal - doubt we'll get the chance to see them perform while we're here but was still nice to see them, all very pretty.
We left the Hofburg and found a short cut to Theresa-Platz where we stopped for a visit to the Naturhistorisches Museum which managed to turn into almost three hours plus time for more tea and apfel-strudel in the cafe (can't really come to Vienna and not try the cafe culture!)
Absolutely beautiful building inside and out. It was purpose built as a museum so the decor reflects the exhibits with murals and mouldings of dinosaurs in the prehistoric area and so on.
Managed to get around a surprising amount although as there are an estimated 20 million artifacts I think it's safe to say it's physically impossible to see everything!
Did manage to see the Venus of Willendorf this time which doesn't look at all impressive until you get your head round the fact that it's around 25,000 years old!
Popped to the Kunsthistorisches Museum opposite which we literally ran around in under an
hour managing to miss a hell of a lot by the looks of the postcards on offer in the shop! To be honest the interior of the museums were just as beautiful as their contents!
Kept walking passing the Burgtheater, the Rathaus and the Parliament before finishing at the Votvkirche as it was getting dark by this point (that and I was literally dead on my feet.)
Unfortunately for my feet we were miles from the nearest metro stop so it was more walking before we could finally collapse back at the hostel.
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