Trevor and I decided to spend our last full day in Austria taking a walking tour of the first district. Micha explained that Vienna is broken up into 23 districts. They more or less spiral outwards from 1 at the centre. The first district is the cultural hub of the city. Museums, Imperial palaces, churches–you’ll find them all here. This is where the tourists flock–and with good reason. The city’s history is written on the walls here. It’s in the architectural designs–Baroque, Classicism, Gothic; it’s in the statues and memorials; it’s in the artwork proudly displayed in the countless galleries. All the history you want is all around you in plain sight. At one point, this district was Vienna. That was it. The Ring Street streetcar track that circles the district was essentially the old city limits.
Some highlights from the walking tour:
Our tour started here, just outside the Albertina museum.
Meet our guide. I don’t remember his name.
I believe this was Maria Theresa’s son-in-law, Albert. He married her daughter, Christina. They loved to collect artwork. Hence, the museum’s name, Albertina.
The Monument Against War and Fascism. The two monuments are called the Gates of Violence. Standing in between them, you’re faced with the horrors of both World Wars. Directly in front of you on the ground is a Jewish person who is forced to scrub anti-Nazi graffiti off the ground. Further off, there’s a statue with what looks like a head disappearing into the ground. This is meant to be a god, whose name I’ve forgotten. The message behind this statue is that we must hold those in power accountable for their actions. The declaration that established Austria as a republic and defined human rights is carved into the tall tower behind it.
This location was chosen for the monument because several hundreds of people were buried alive here during a WWII air raid while they were hiding in a bomb shelter.
Rub the lucky ass for good luck.
So the Capuchin Crypt and monastery is just off to the side of this photo. According to our tour guide, this is where the cappuccino was invented. He claims that a monk accidentally spilled milk into a coffee, and somebody noted that the coffee turned the same colour as the monk’s robes. Hence the name cappuccino. I’m too tired to bother looking this up, though, so I’ll let you decide if this is fact or fiction.
This crypt is also known as the Imperial Crypt because this is where the remaining Habsburg family members are buried. According to the ritual, the body is brought to the door of the crypt, and the official knocker of doors–that’s an actual role–knocks on the door. When the monk asks who it is, the knocker of doors says the deceased’s name, and proceeds to list off their ridiculous list of titles–Lord of such and such, Duke of whatchacallit, and so on. These are all archaic titles that mean nothing today, but they are still read nonetheless. The monk replies by saying they don’t know anybody by that name, all sassy-like, and this ritual is repeated a second time. The third time, though, instead of listing off titles, the knocker of doors simply refers to the deceased as a humble human being–or something along those lines. The tour guide told the story much better than I did. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks, and I’m just a dumb dumb with a laptop.
Mozart died in a department store. Well, not really, but sorta.
He lived in the first floor of this building for a while. Vienna was the place to be if you were a classical music groupie.
The mighty St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The black is accumulation of air pollution and soot over the years. Gross. Still very mighty, though.
Lovers of books everywhere, rejoice! It’s Mr. Gutenberg himself! Though our guide couldn’t figure out why there’s a statue of Gutenberg in Vienna, since he only briefly stopped by here…
Klimt designed this clock.
Trevor and I met Beth on the walking tour, and we went for some craaaazy delicious Indian food afterwards. Beth was a beautiful soul, inside and out. We shared life stories and officially became friends forever over a delicious shared dessert of gulab jamun.
Random shots on the way back to Micha’s:
The next morning, Micha and Allison woke up terribly early to bid us farewell. Allison didn’t have the strength to stick around for the picture. In three days, this was the only picture I thought to take with Micha, but it’s a perfect one.