Vienna, Austria

Greetings from Austria!

This morning (Saturday) started out with a bang . . . or rather, a poof!

Long story short, I couldn’t find the hair dryer the hotel provided (it was hidden in a drawer), so I plugged MY blow dryer into the outlet using an adapter.  Not a good a idea. There was a pop, fire and all the lights went out. Oops! Apparently the outlets here are only 100v and my blow dryer requires 120v.  The facilities guy scolded me in German, moved the dresser and plugged the hotel’s dryer in for me in front of the mirror so there can be no further excuses for blowing the electricity. Well, alrighty then.

Then . . . there was some confusion about where we were supposed to have breakfast. The Executive Lounge sent us downstairs to the main restaurant; the restaurant sent us back up to the Executive Lounge.  Apparently there was some confusion with our room numbers. Stan finally told the restaurant we would be dining with them and they could work it out amongst themselves. (These pushy Americans!)

Finally, we were getting ready to leave on our guided WALKING tour and I realized it was raining! I had to go back to my room and change into weather appropriate clothes and shoes and get a sweater.

Whew! Okay . . . ready to go.

Walking in the rain.
Our tour guide was great.  His name was Herbert and he was born and raised in Vienna. Perfect!  He told us that he had to complete a two year course at the university to become a certified tour guide.  He was passionate about his city and entertained us with interesting stories and jokes along the way. 

Herbert, our tour guide.
I cannot do justice to the history and architecture in this city. We covered a span from the 1200’s to 1800’s in two hours! Just to give you an example of the history behind one building – check this out:

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the most important religious building in Austria’s capital and has been central to many important events in it’s history. Here is a rough time-line:
  • 1160 – The initial structure was completed in Romanesque style.
  • Early 1200’s –  They added to the structure and built the towers.
  • 1258 – A fire destroyed much of the original building so it was rebuilt re-using the two towers.
  • 1263 – Cathedral was completed and dedicated.
  • 1304 – 1340 Albert I ordered a Gothic style three-nave choir addition to the structure.
  • 1359 – Rudolf IV began another expansion which eventually encapsulated the entire structure!
  • 1430 – The edifice of the original church was removed from within as work progressed on the cathedral.
  • 1433 – The south tower was completed in Gothic style.
  • 1450 – Construction began for the north tower but was never finished.
  • 1474 – The vaulting of the nave was completed.
  • 1511 – Construction was halted.
  • 1578 – The north tower was originally intended to mirror the south tower but the era of Gothic cathedrals was nearing its end so the “stump” at the top was fitted with a Renaissance style cap.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Vienna, Austria
North tower was never completed.
Renaissance cap added in 1578
This side is being renovated.
There is a screen over the section that is being cleaned.
Note the detail in the roof.

South tower.

Note: This cathedral was made of sandstone which is very porous and absorbs all the dirt and pollution so sections are always being renovated (cleaned). That’s why some of the building looks light and other sections are black.

Pretty incredible, huh?  I am always struck with “awe” when I stand in a place that is several centuries old.  I can hardly take it in.  One cathedral that was built in three different styles over 400 years! I wonder about all the important political and social events that took place there. For instance, this is where Mozart was buried. Inside there are alters, a stone pulpit, chapels, tombs, catacombs, crypts and organs that are historical in-and-of themselves. It would probably take a whole year to absorb all the information and history of this single cathedral!  And the city is full of historical buildings like this. Can you imagine?

So, walking on . . .

Here are photos of buildings we saw.  I’ll save the history lessons.  Enjoy!

I love the detail on the
corner of this building.

Narrow cobble stone streets.
Not good for driving!

Lunch break.

I love the size and detail in these doors.

Vienna at dusk.
I took this picture out of the restaurant
window while we were having dinner.

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