If you take an early-morning stroll along the Danube Canal in Vienna, you not only enjoy the first rays of sun. You also gain a strong sense of the unique coexistence of nature, youthful creativity and the legacy of the city's most important architect. On the left the waters of the canal murmur softly on their way to the Black Sea, while on the right the colourful graffiti on the stone retaining walls glows in the morning sun. And along this path you make your first acquaintance with the Jugendstil architect Otto Wagner. The Rossauer Lände and Friedensbrücke underground stations were built at the beginning of the twentieth century according to designs by this famous city planner. They also ensure quick access to the city centre.
Vienna’s historic downtown is remarkable for its harmonious coexistence of traditional and modern architecture. Here, historic buildings and contemporary structures blend to create an impressive, inimitable cityscape. A good example of this is the Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which directly faces the modern, glass-and-steel Haas Haus building. Then there is the Hofburg Palace, the splendid former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Right across the square is the Looshaus, completed in 1911 and a landmark of modern Viennese architecture. Not far from here is also the world-famous Vienna State Opera with its neighbouring building the Albertina. This museum not only boasts one of the world’s largest collection of graphic art; it is also striking for its "Soravia Wing", a remarkable glass-and-steel structure that serves as a fly roof.
The imperial past is still palpable when one strolls past the Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and the Naturhistorisches Museum (Museum of Natural History) on the way to the nearby MuseumsQuartier, which represents a very special combination of history and zeitgeist. Contemporary architecture has filled this complex, which 100 years ago was still used as the court stables, with new life. Now the courtyard has the feeling of a modern, urban living room, ringed by historic and modern buildings such as the Leopold Museum and Museum Moderner Kunst. All of this has made the MuseumsQuartier one of the liveliest spots in Vienna, drawing locals as well as visitors who come here to relax, chat and enjoy the evening sun.
The area around Karlsplatz is a melting pot of various building cultures. The Secession, situated on the Wienzeile, is one of the city’s most important Jugendstil buildings, while the Baroque Karlskirche located directly on Karlsplatz provides a fascinating stylistic contrast to the Neoclassical architecture of the world-famous Musikverein, right across the road.
The fact that Vienna is the meeting place of so many different cultures can be explained by the city’s glorious history. Many grand buildings are the legacy of the Habsburg Empire, including two particularly imposing palaces.
Schönbrunn Palace served as the summer residence of emperors, and Empress Sisi in particular was fond of strolling through the splendid palace grounds. The gardens of the Baroque Belvedere Palace, built as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, are striking for their tiered fountains and sculptures.
Those who prefer more contemporary architecture will want to head across the river to the Donau City, also known as "Vienna DC". The architecture of this new neighbourhood is characterized by glass-and-steel towers jutting into the sky.
At the end of a long tour of sightseeing, one looks forward to a relaxing evening over a glass of wine. And there is no better place for this than Vienna, which has the privilege of having its very own vineyards and thus also its very own wines, made at wine estates boasting some of the city’s most innovative architecture.
Our last stop on is thus Vienna’s Floridsdorf district, which can claim two award-winning winemakers: the Christ Winery and the Wieninger Winery. A perfect way to end the day might be with a glass of the typically Austrian Grüner Veltliner or a glass of the Viennese wine speciality known as the "Gemischter Satz".
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