Vienna: An Introduction Private Tour

Vienna: An Introduction Private Tour

Vienna-An-Introduction-2“If I speak of Vienna it must be in the past tense, as a man speaks of a woman he has loved and who is dead,” said Erich von Stroheim (1885 – 1957) of the capital city of Austria. The Austrian actor and filmmaker of the silent movie era was quite right about Vienna being a city of the past. And not just a city of one past, but of many pasts. Vienna is notable for its layers of history, built one on top of the other, the oldest, Roman layers reaching as far down as nine meters below the ground level of today’s sidewalks.

Our tour begins at Michaelerplatz, where the Hofburg, the Habsburg’s imperial palace and seat of power since the thirteenth century, dominates the square. Clockwise from the palace is the green and gray Loos House, designed by Austrian architect Adolf Loos (1870-1933). The building’s unadorned, modernist style caused such a stir that the emperor, Franz Joseph I (1830-­1916), refused to leave the palace by this gateway after its unveiling in 1910 and also demanded that the drapes in all the windows in the Neue Burg wing of the palace be permanently drawn, so he could avoid glimpsing such “an eyesore” in the vicinity of his imperial abode. In the center of the square is an excavation of eighteenth century housing, medieval cellars and Roman buildings; evidence of the city’s earliest history as a Roman legionary fort, when it was known as Vindobona.

Vienna-An-Introduction-3From there, our tour continues down Kohlmarkt and the Graben, currently one of the city’s most fashionable shopping districts and home to such varied sights as a plague column commemorating the 17th century outbreak of bubonic plague, a baroque church, grand buildings in many different architectural styles and the national architectural icon of Austria: Stephansdom. From here, you can see buildings in every direction designed by some of Austria’s most famed architects, including Otto Wagner (1841­-1918), whose Wiener Secessionist style (the city’s answer to art nouveau) stands in contrast to Loos’s restrained and unadorned creations.

From Stephansdom, we continue our walk and examine the quarter behind the cathedral, with little narrow streets, where one still can feel the ambience of old Vienna. Here we will also find places connected with famous names, like W.A. Mozart (1756-1791) who lived in this quarter during the last ten years of his life, or Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), who built his famous Winterpalace nearby.

Then we head back to Kärntnerstrasse towards Neuer Markt, a square that has maintained its outline since the Middle Ages, we see Capuchine Church and learn something about the imperial vault and the Habsburg’s grandiose tripartite burials. From there, we continue towards the State Opera House, touching Albertina square where we find remnants of the old city walls and a famous art collection.

Vienna-An-Introduction-4Then we walk along the Ringstraße, the big imperial boulevard built in the middle of the 19th century around the Inner City after tearing down the city walls, where we find most of Vienna’s luxury Hotels in old palaces. The Ringstraße celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015. We pass by Musikverein and Künstlerhaus to Karlskirche, one of the biggest baroque Churches in town, built after the last epidemic of the black plague at the beginning of the 18th century. Crossing Resselpark, we continue our walk towards the Secession building and pass by the Viennese Naschmarkt, the colourful traditional food market where the Viennese meet to shop and eat!

Finally, we weave through the Museums­Quartier and Maria­-Theresien­-Platz, home to the city’s largest concentration of museums, while discussing the present day cultural, political and economic orientations of Austria and its capital.

ProkschChristine Proksch holds a BA in Cultural Journalism and a MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Copenhagen. She finished with a Master about the Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler. In order to dig deeper into her favourite topic, Austrian Literature around 1900, she studied German and Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna and fell deeply in love with the city and the vast cultural landscape. Since 1998 she has lived permanently in the city.. Today she mainly works as a cultural journalist reporting to Danish Medias about the cultural life in Central Europe. She has also written the most sold Vienna guide and guide to Austria in Denmark.
SmithNicholas Smith is an American who moved his life to Vienna after marrying an Austrian. He is in the last year of completing his MA in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City while also freelancing writing articles on Vienna history, arts and culture for The Vienna Review (the largest and most distinguished English language newspaper in Austria).
OconnorStephen O’Connor earned his PhD in Military History at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is passionate about recounting the many ferocious battles waged over Vienna from Roman times through the Ottomon Threat, Napoleon, the Hapsburgs, and of course, the global wars of the 20th century. In fact, he is as passionate as most Irishmen are deemed to be at recounting a good tale of any kind, but particularly those that have to do with the fascinating history, arts and culture of the Vienna he moved to and fell in love with along with the Austrian who he married there. He presently works as a teacher of English for Viennese professionals.
FelicitasKonecnyFelicitas Konecny studied architecture in Graz, Naples and Vienna. As a student she organized conferences, co-founded a research group, wrote articles, held seminars and worked freelance at architectural firms. This wide-ranging experience led her to a position as the secretary of the Austrian Society for Architecture (1997-2003). Five times she was a co-curator of the biennial Architecture Days in Vienna, from 2005–2010 she edited a program on architecture for Vienna‘s Community-TV-Channel „Okto“. In 2012, she became a licensed Austrian tour guide. Her tours are mainly focused on the urban development of Vienna from the origins to the present day and architecture in its respective socioeconomic, political, cultural, and aesthetic context. What makes Viennese architecture special to her: the multifaceted interplay of buildings from all ages in this historic city and the prominent role of social/affordable housing as a motor for innovation and a challenge for the best architects. Although an enthusiastic native Viennese, she despises cliches and is happy about visitors with a critical eye.

 

 

Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

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