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Published: March 23rd 2018
Today we experienced a veritable heat wave in Vienna, with temperatures reaching the mid-40s, with sunshine and clear, blue skies! If this weather continues, we may need to buy some sunscreen and summer shorts! We felt the difference as we walked to the tram stop, and by the time we sat down for lunch at an outdoor terrace in the Naschmarkt, it was actually quite comfortable.
The Naschmarkt is Vienna's most popular market. Located at the Wienzeile over the Wien River, it stretches for almost a mile. This market has existed since the 16th-century, when mainly milk bottles were sold. Since milk bottles, at the time, were made out of ash (wood from an ash tree), "Asch" (German for "ash") led to the name "Aschenmarkt".
From 1793 onwards, all fruits and vegetables brought to Vienna with carts had to be sold there, while goods arriving on the Danube were sold elsewhere. Nowadays, not only are fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world available, but also exotic herbs, cheese, baked goods (such as bread and kaiser rolls, and torts), meats, and seafood.
True to its motto, "What does not exist at the Naschmarkt, you do not need", just
about everything is available in the stalls of this market. In addition to foodstuffs, there are many small restaurants offering classic Viennese cuisine, Italian specialties, Greek dishes, and Chinese food. We also noticed sushi and seafood eateries as we strolled through the aisles.
After wandering around for 20 minutes or so, we decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants that had quite a crowd of diners sitting on its outdoor terrace--basking in the sunshine no less! The food was simple, but tasty, as Dee ordered a big hamburger platter, while I ate some bratwurst with potato salad.
The young waiter was very personable, even offering Dee a complimentary shot of vodka while I drank an espresso. During our meal, several beggars and hucksters approached us (and some other patrons)---an irritating nuisance we've encountered in other cities during our travels (Paris, Rome, Pisa and Florence come to mind).
We wandered around the Naschmarkt some more after lunch, then walked a short distance to reach the Secession building, which is currently undergoing major renovation and restoration. Scaffolding and construction barriers completely obscure views of both the facade and the iconic "cabbage" ornament perched on the roof.
Facade of the Secession Building
The motto of the Secessionist movement is written above the entrance of the pavilion: "To every age its art, to every art its freedom" (German: Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit). Below this is a sculpture of three gorgons representing painting, sculpture, and architecture.
The Secession Building (Wiener Secessionsgebäude
) is an exhibition hall built in 1897 by Joseph Maria Olbrich as an architectural statement for the Vienna Secession movement, the group of rebel artists (including Gustav Klimt) who broke away from Vienna's long-established fine art institution. The building features the Beethoven Frieze
by Klimt, one of the most widely recognized artworks of Secession style (a branch of Art Nouveau).
Klimt painted the Beethoven Frieze
in 1901 for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition in celebration of the composer, and featured a monumental sculpture by Max Klinger. Meant for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials.
After the exhibition, the painting was preserved, although it did not go on display again until 1986. The frieze is now on permanent display in the Vienna Secession Building, in a specially built, climate controlled basement room. The frieze (a decorative horizontal band, usually located along the upper part of a wall in a room) is quite large, standing at 7-feet-high, with a width of 112 feet. The entire work weighs four tons.
We spent some time trying to understand the symbolism contained in Klimt's imagery, but had to seek
The Beethoven frieze (Klimt)
A knight in shining armor offers hope due to his own ambition and sympathy for the pleading, suffering humans. (left side wall)
the assistance of the museum's brochure (and other resources):
"The frieze illustrates human desire for happiness in a suffering and tempestuous world in which one contends not only with external evil forces but also with internal weaknesses. The viewer follows this journey of discovery in a stunning visual and linear fashion.
It begins gently with the floating female Genii searching the Earth but soon follows the dark, sinister-looking storm-wind giant, Typhoeus, his three Gorgon daughters and images representing sickness, madness, death, lust and wantonness (above and to the right).
A knight in shining armor offers hope due to his own ambition and sympathy for the pleading, suffering humans. The journey ends in the discovery of joy by means of the arts and contentment is represented in the close embrace of a kiss. Thus, the frieze expounds psychological human yearning, ultimately satisfied through individual and communal searching and the beauty of the arts coupled with love and companionship."
After leaving the Secession building, it was a short walk to the Opera, where we boarded the trolley for home. Later, our most gracious landlord (Markus) treated us to dinner at Am Nordpol, a very authentic Viennese
restaurant not far from our apartment. We enjoyed some classic Viennese meals while having another fascinating conversation with Markus, on subjects ranging from American, Austrian and European culture and politics to his own travel experiences in the U.S. and around the globe. His fluency in English is so remarkable, it's easy to forget that German is his mother tongue!
After driving us back to the apartment, we said our good-byes, since we'll likely not enjoy the pleasure of his company before we leave on Sunday. But making his acquaintance will always remain in our memories as the highlight of our visit to Vienna. Auf wiedersehen, Markus, we'll miss you!
Dee's comments: Today we saw the sun, yippie! I even had to wear my sunglasses for awhile. The market was interesting, like others we have seen, but bigger and with many eateries. As many of you know, I'm a little warm-blooded, so took off my scarf and unbuttoned my coat during lunch; then, after the waiter brought me a shot of vodka after our meals, I became even hotter!
Off to the Secession building to see the Klimt frieze, which was very interesting, as are all of his
Dumplings with sauerkraut
Each dumpling with different fillings
works. On the way back home, while riding the tram, we could see many people enjoying today's sunshine by walking in the parks adjacent to the Ringstrasse. Highlight of the day was dinner with Markus, our personable and intelligent landlord/entrepreneur, who shared so many insights into Viennese culture. We have made a new friend, and enjoyed a lovely evening!
Vienna has been a challenge because of the weather conditions, but it's been another fascinating learning experience. :-)
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