03.05.2011 30 °C
Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe,
and the largest city and capital is Vienna. It's population is 1.6 million
and in 2010 Vienna was named as the world’s number one most livable
city. Vienna is known for it's beautiful architecture and is the cultural center
for classical music & art, the city features many grand historic buildings,
City squares, Imperial palaces, museums and over 280 gardens and parks.
We began our day in Vienna with a walking tour of the city,
which started at the Heldenplatz also known as Heroes Square.
This was were Adolf Hitler made his infamous announcement in 1938.
We than walked through to the grounds of Hofburg Palace which
has housed some of the most powerful people in Austrian history
including the Habsburg dynasty. We walked thought the tunnel of
St. Michael's Wing and passed by the old Spanish Riding School &
the Vienna Opera House. I saw more statues in Vienna than anywhere
else we visited in Europe.
We made a stop at the Holocaust Memorial in front of the Albertina
Museum and strolled up to the Haas House which is one of the newest
building's in the city and features a large glass facade. Then it was off
to see St. Peter's Church or Peterskirche as it is known to locals. The cute
church features a copper clad dome roof dating to the eighteenth century.
Our last stop was St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna’s most famous sight.
The Gothic style church dates back to 1147 AD has many unique features
including the tower which stands 137 meters high, one of only a few gothic
towers of such height that were finished in the Middle Ages. It also has a
colorful patterned roof which is covered by 230,000 glazed tiles.
After the tour we headed to one of the largest Swarovski stores in the world.
The store is split over three levels and has displays of all the beautiful
crystal products including jewelry, accessories, figurines and chandeliers.
It was cool they allow photography inside the store and i bought mum
a gorgeous pair of earrings.
We then took a break from all the sightseeing and headed to a little
Viennese cafe for lunch and ordered a chicken schnitzel which is a
traditional Austrian dish and later visited the Sacher Hotel to try a
piece of the world famous Sachertorte, a dry chocolate cake with
a thin layer of apricot jam. It's is tradional quite dry so is often
served with whipped cream, A small piece of cake cost 4 Euro's &
is considered a must do whilst visiting Vienna.
We also opted for a horse and cart ride tour of the old town, this is a fun
way to explore the many little lane ways and offered a nice change of
scenery. The cart holds up to 4 adults and is pulled by two horses,
this is traditionally called a Fiaker, You can find them in many of the cities
squares & there are alot around St. Stephen's Cathedral,
We chose the short ride which lasted twenty minutes and was a highlight
for us during our stay, I would defiantly recommenced it.
Afterwards we took a stroll through Burggarten Park, one of the many
well kept garden's in the city, We visited the Mozart monument which
features a statue of the famous composer and has a treble clef made from
flowers. It was a gorgeous day and it was so nice to sit in the gardens
and soak up the sun.
We also caught the metro out to the Prater amusement park.
The main attraction is the Riesenrad (German for Viennese giant wheel)
which is the world's oldest Ferris wheel and was erected in 1897 to
celebrate Emperor Franz Josef's golden Jubilee, At this time it was
also the largest in the world. The original wheel was destroyed in
World War 2 so had to be rebuilt in 1945.
The next day we visited the picturesque village of Mondsee.
The town in the Vocklabruck district in Upper Austria and is nestled
between the shores of Lake Mondsee and tall mountain tops.
We stopped here for lunch and went to visit the Mondsee Cathedral,
which was used as the church in the wedding scene at the
end of The Sound Of Music!
On our last day in Austria we visited the Mauthausen Concentration Camp,
This was one of the largest and most infamous Nazi camps in Europe.
Once we arrived at the camp the sky had completely clouded over and
the temperatures dropped. We went inside and watched a documentary on
the history of the camp. This was hard to stomach and some visitors walked out.
During 1945 the camps numbers reached 85,000 inmates and the death toll
has been estimated at 320,000 which included socialists, communists,
anarchists, homosexuals, Jews and others who didn't fit the Nazi ideal
of racial superiority.
We than walked around the compound which was very emotional,
you couldn't help but feel the pain and suffering from those who were
killed here and the mood was extremely somber. We went inside the
wooden barracks that were once used to sleep the inmates,
Once so crowded they were forced to sleep on top of each other on the floor.
We passed through the gas chamber and the crematorium complex
which was very disturbing. Outside we visited the Mauthausen quarry
in which many were forced to take their own lives and seen the Stairs of
Death in which prisoners were forced to carry a granite block up the 186
steps which would lead to their deaths.
I remember feeling so sick in the stomach whilst there and just wanted to
throw up, It was hard to see but it was important to experience and is
something I will never forget, Let's pray nothing like this never happens again!