Our hotel had been selected for convenience for my husbands business rather than it being central for my site seeing. But the hotel we ended up in, Das Capri, turned out to be in a great location between Stephansplatz and Prater, and with a U-Bahn stop almost directly out the front door! The rooms and service were great and they served a fabulous breakfast buffet.
We had arrived in Vienna around lunchtime, so on our first afternoon we decided to walk to St Stephen’s Cathedral which turned out to be a fairly straightforward 15 minute walk from the hotel (but we could have jumped on the U-Bahn too).
As you enter Stephansplatz from the north, this is the first view you get of the Cathedral. It is a wonderful towering centre point to the city.
On the far side, just poking above the roof you can see the main South Tower and this is the place we headed to first. The entrance for the South Tower is on the south side of the Cathedral through a small side door. Once inside there is a little kiosk where you pay the small entrance fee and then head on up the 343 fairly narrow steps to the viewing area. There are lovely views in all directions and you can really appreciate the beautiful tiled roof.
A few days later I went back to the Cathedral to view the rest of it. From inside you can buy a ticket to go up in the small elevator to the viewing area in the North Tower which again had nice views over the city.
The North Tower was originally intended to mirror the South Tower, but the design proved too ambitious and construction was halted in 1511. The designs and details on the roof are done with 230,000 glazed tiles. The roof of the Cathedral was severely damaged during WWII and the wooden framework of the roof had to be replaced with steel bracing.
I also paid to join a tour that takes you down into the Catacombs from inside the Cathedral. The Catacombs house the remains of over 11,000 people, as well as many Crypts of Bishops and Ducal. The Ducal Crypt holds 78 bronze containers that hold the hearts, bodies or viscera of 72 members of the Habsburg dynasty, – that’s a lovely thought for you isn’t it! It was a pretty eerie place to be. The interior of the Cathedral has it’s only special beauty, open and airy with lovely Gothic stonework.
I loved how the centre of Vienna is so walkable. From Stephansplatz I walked down Graben which is a popular shopping street, passing the Plague Monument and beautiful St Peter’s Church (go inside if you get the chance). Turning left on Kohl Market I passed by the fabulous Demel Café (more about that in my Vienna cafés, cakes and strudel post) and there in front of me was the impressive Hofburg palace, the former imperial palace and seat of power of the Habsburg dynasty.
Off to the left is the Spanish Riding School, which I cover in more detail in a special post dedicated to it, but I walked on through the central archway. The Palace houses a number of museums, and I chose to go into the Treasury to view some of the treasures that were compiled by the Imperial House of Hapsburg over the centuries, and the Imperial Crown, Orb and Septre of Austria.
After leaving the Treasury, I walked past the New Palace and the balcony overlooking Heldenplatz that is famous the being the site of Adolf Hitler’s notable announcement of Austria’s joining with Nazi Germany in March 1938.
I crossed over the Ringstrasse into Maria Theresien Platz and the Museum quarter. The wonderful statue of Empress Maria Theresa is flanked by the near identical Museums of Natural History and the Museum of Fine Arts. I didn’t go into either museum on this occasion, but loving this visit to Vienna as much as I was – I know I will go back one day!
While facing the Museum quarter, if you turn right and walk further on along the Ringstrasse you will see the impressive looking City Hall on your left and also the National Theatre on your right with the pretty Volksgarten next to it with beautiful flowers and fountains.
Returning back along the Ringstrasse I next headed to the Burggarten on the other side of the Hofburg Palace.
The Burggarten is one of the many lovely green spaces in Vienna, a statue filled formal garden with a Palm house at one end and once the private garden of Emperor Franz I. Straight away I came across the popular statue of Mozart, built in 1896 and there were plenty of other tourists there to see it, so I didn’t have a problem finding someone to take a photo for me! I had the most fun exploring the many side streets of the city of Vienna, lots of lovely shops, and friendly people. I always felt safe and having a map, I found getting around very easy. You will find more about my visit in my other Vienna posts.
Date of visit; October 2015.