Vienna: An Introduction

Vienna: An Introduction

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.



Ilse Heigerth

Having obtained a Masters degree in Romance languages, and studied ethnology and journalism in the 1990s in Vienna as well, Ilse has served as the editor for numerous well-known Vienna-based writers.  Her interests have always been attracted to history, the arts and literature.  Born and raised in Salzburg, it is not a surprise that she also developed an early affinity for classical music, studying piano at an advanced level in Graz for 2 years.  She worked with the Sigmund Freud Museum for 3 years; and in 2013, after two and a half years of required training and study she became a licensed Austrian tour guide.  Ilse delights in sharing the fascinating history and culture of Vienna and Salzburg on a personal level, while enjoying cultural exchanges with visitors from all over the world.


FelicitasKonecnyFelicitas Konecny

Felicitas 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.

Gilles Gubelmann

Art brought Gilles to Vienna for the first time, twenty years ago, where he works as a painter and a set designer for opera and theater productions. It was the perfect way, in Gilles’ words, to discover not only Vienna's rich cultural and artistic past as well as the splendors of baroque architecture, but also its soul, its fantastic classical, romantic or contemporary music production. Gilles specializes in guiding travelers through Vienna's history of music, visiting places where famous composers lived and worked or which they frequented. He also helps you discover the great Baroque palaces that crown the city or the hidden beauties of Vienna’s historical center, with its 2000 years of history, including the Viennese Secession, with its pivotal role in the development of modernism in art and culture globally.  

Reinhard Travnicek

Reinhard Travnicek studied literature, cultural science and pedagogy at the Universities of Salzburg, Graz and Vienna. He earned his PhD with a thesis about Henri Michaux and French post-surrealistic literature and art.  His published articles focus on literary criticism and cultural history. Since 1986, Reinhard began to work cultural tourism and cultural pedagogy. As a lecturer at the University of Graz, his main research topics are Italian and European Renaissance, Baroque and the Fin-de-siècle. At present, Reinhard is working on a study about late Italian Renaissance and the Counter Reformation. His research activities have always been very stimulating for his professional work as a cultural guide opening up the great city of Vienna and its history to travelers.

Katharina Ebner

Katharina Ebner was born in Vienna in a family of three generation Viennese. She holds a Master Degree in Art History and Cultural Studies, having studied at the University of Vienna and Rome. During her studies she has was involved in a research project focusing on the photographic representation of post-war Austrians. Since graduating with a thesis on the relationship between sounds and images in film (summa cum laude), she has been working in several fields of art and cultural production in Vienna, Rome and Amsterdam. She worked as program curator for a renowned Vienna Discussion Forum, gave tours through the collections of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. As an independent art professional she has been involved in several international University projects, as well as writing texts for catalogues and works as an editor. She is closely associated with the Institute of Composition and Experimental Music at the University in Vienna, currently working on a research project on the history of the Institute. She has been giving talks and lectures internationally on the contemporary Viennese Art Scene as well as Film, Sound and Image relationships. Because Katharina shares a strong interest in the historical and contemporary cultural urban space, she also became a licensed tour guide, providing insightful tours through Vienna.  

Katharina Trost

Katharina Trost was born and raised in Vienna and earned an MA in History at the University of Vienna.  She gives a wealth of themed tours of her city, from the classic city tour to imperial history, music history, architecture and art nouveau, palaces, churches and cemeteries. She is well-known for her lively and specialized tours for children, which are interactive and allow kids to solve historical secrets while discovering Austria's capital.  

Gerti Schmidt

Gertraud Schmidt has a linguistics background. She decided to leave a successful career in translation to indulge her passion for history, architecture, art and culture.  After graduating summa cum laude from the two years of study to become a licenced Austria guide, she has become a involved member of the Vienna travel world, representing the Vienna Tourist Guides in the Chamber of Commerce/Association of Businesses in the Leisure Field in Vienna, as a member the Tourist Guide Training Department and as Vice Chair of the Board in the Chamber of Commerce/ Association of Businesses in the  Leisure Field in Vienna. She loves introducing travelers to Vienna’s rich history, its architecture and astonishing art collections. In her free time, she also serves as an expert lay judge at the provincial high court.  


Starting Location:
Cafe Demel, a famous pastry shop and chocolaterie established in 1786. Kohlmarkt 14, 1010 Vienna


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

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