St Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, also known as Stephansdom, had humble beginnings as a parish church in the 12th century. Today, it is the home church for the Catholic archbishop in Vienna. The church was destroyed in World War II but was rebuilt in seven years, with worship services still held daily. The cathedral, one of the city’s most important landmarks, reaches high into the Viennese skyline. Its impressive roof is covered by 230,000 glazed tiles. The cathedral has more than 18 altars, all built at different times, and contains precious works of art as well.
The Burggarten is a once-royal garden that is a bit of England in Vienna, as it is patterned after English gardens. The Burggarten was the court garden for the Hapsburg rulers. One Austrian ruler, Kaiser Franz II used to work in the garden, which is now a place where people can enjoy outdoor lunches on pleasant days. A memorial to that great Austrian composer, Mozart, can be found in one corner of the garden, while the Palmenhaus, a magnificent glass palm house, is located in the northern part. The left part of the Palmenhaus houses the Schmettlerlinghaus where visitors can see tropical butterflies and even bats.
The Belvedere is an integral part of Vienna’s historic scene, consisting of several palaces and an orangery that dates back to the late 17th century. It consists of the Baroque palaces, the Lower and Upper Belvedere; palace stables and the Orangery, all set in a Baroque-style park. Prince Eugene of Savoy had the complex built for this summer home. During the French Revolution, the palaces served as home to French royalty fleeing their country. The Belvedere is stunning to look at during the night when it is all lit up, and well as provides great views of Vienna.
Hofburg Imperial Palace
The Hofburg Imperial Palace has played an integral part of the Austrian government scene since it was built in the 13th century. It has been home to some of Europe’s most powerful royalty over the centuries, including the Hapsburgs and rulers of the Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Today it is a museum and home to the president of Austria. The palace has numerous wings and halls built by various royalty over the centuries, but only three parts are open to the public today: the Imperial Apartments; the Sisi Museum, dedicated to Elizabeth, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, and the Silver Collection, a collection of Imperial household objects.
The 1,441 room Schönbrunn Palace, comparable in grandeur to Versailles, is one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I and turned into the imperial summer palace by Maria Theresa. The Palace Park offers a lot of attractions, such as the Privy Garden, the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth, and the Gloriette, a marble summerhouse, situated on top of a 60 meter (200 feet) high hill.
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