If you've never been to Wien, it's now time to pack your luggage, catch a plane and go there...otherwise, you can always interactively visit it, with this Virtual Tour...
But, first of all, you will like to know something about the history of this incredibly romantic and cosmopolitan city. So said - in a nutshell - ...Its first inhabitants date back to the late Stone Age and during the Roman empire it was known as Vindobona, a military encampment. The bordering position made it vulnerable to the Barbaric invasions and roughly five centuries after the destruction of Vindobona by the Huns, the Emperor Otto I of Germany gave its territories to the Babenbergs, who transformed it in a shining city, a cultural and historical center, that was to become the capital of the Sacred Roman Empire, with the election of Albert V in 1438. Thanks to some intelligent "wedding politics", the Absburg family took over half Europe, but not only the borders had to be guarded, but the capital too, since Suleyman the Magnificent, black death and religious wars between Christians and Protestants were trying to demolish any of its stability. The expansionistic visions of Turks ended some centuries later, when Kara Mustapha Pasha tried again to enter into the heart of Europe. In 1683, his army besieged Vienna and seemed on his way to victory. But Austrians and their Polish allies completely profited from the disposition of Kara Mustapha's troops and led a devastating flank attack. Kara Mustapha did not die on the battlefield, but some months later: his defeat was signed with his execution by Janissaries, and his head was delivered to Sultan Mehmed IV. Austria could develop again, and transform itself in a modern, rich, safe and beautiful city under the rule of the Empress Maria Theresa, who had to fight several wars in order to maintain an incredibly vast empire, whose heart was Wien. With Mozart, the city became the musical capital of Europe. The reforms started with Maria Theresa continued under the rule of her son Joseph II. The XIX century was expression of wars, political repression, bankruptcy, cholera and civil upheavals and some of this problems found a relaxation under the reign of Franz Joseph, who died in 1916 without any direct heir: if his son Rudolph probably committed suicide and the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand collapsed Europe into WW1, in 1918 the monarchy died with the abdication of Charles I. In the years between 1920 and 1934 socialism prevailed even though a conservative government. The chancellor Dollfuss was assassinated in 1934 by the Nazi and four years later Hitler proclaimed the Anschluss entering into the city. At the end of WWII Austria did not regain its independence, but was divided by the Allies, and only in 1955 the occupation found an end and was hence declared a neutral state. During Cold war, JFK and Krushev met in Wien and in 1979 the UN inaugurated a HQ there (the UNO city). Finally, in 1995 Austria entered into the EU.
All this history, is blended into the city. Inside the intricated alleys and roads of the heart of Wien, you will soon notice that the Stephansdom dominates the sky of this part of the city. While walking along the several Gasse (remembrance of a medieval architecture) today full of cafés, shops and people at every hour of the day and night, you will find, several churches and old buildings. Do not forget to visit the Ruprechtikirche, the most ancient church in Wien, which probably dates back to the XI century. Enjoy the view of the Danube canal. Now, head for another church: the Peterskirche, whose interior is richly decorated by Matthias Steindl and whose exterior is the result of renovations on an older church (dating back to the XII century) on the inspiration of the Roman Basilica of St. Peter. And, for sure, do not forget to pay a visit to the Stephansdom too...
Now, head to the district of the Hofburg. You will immediately notice that the atmosphere is different. The imperial Wien is condensed here and, even though the nobility doesn't live here anymore, the richness of sector lies in the transformation of the buildings into embassies, offices, elegant boutiques and art galleries. If you aren't convinced, just walk along the Kohlmarkt zone, or Kärntner Strasse and you will see. The Neue Burg is part of the complex of the Hofburg. Built under the reign of Francis Joseph, when the Empire was slowly running to an end, it is the building from which Hitler declared the Anschluss. Inside, today you will find either several museums (such as the Ephesos Museum, the Hofjagd und Rüstkammer), or the Austrian National Library, in which the Prunksaal - the biggest Baroque Library of Europe - is breathtaking. The complex of the Hofburg is impressive and you will have the chance to visit some interesting things, such as the Equestrian School (where performances are held), and the Imperial apartments of Franz Joseph and his enchanting wife Elisabeth (a.k.a. Sisi), Empress of Austria and Hungary, to whom the Sisi Museum is dedicated. On a sunny day, the Volksgarten will offer you the chance to stroll among several ornamental plants, monuments, fountains and roses. The Votivkirche, in Rooseveltplatz, is amongst the most interesting churches in Wien, not only for the decorations, but for its history too. In fact, its construction began after a failed attempt to kill the emperor Francis Joseph, exactly where the church today lies. When you start feeling hungry, stop by a Café, such as the Café Central, and enjoy the several types of coffees that are prepared in Wien (the list can be as long as by Starbucks...), along with a Sachertorte, a Linzertorte, a Palatschinken, a Reisauflauf mit Apfeln or a Kaiserschmarrn. Be assured, be it that you like sweet or salty dishes; Austrian kitchen will be able to enchant you. And if you are interested in the life of Sigmund Freud, look for the Freud Museum, in Berggasse 19. Remember to go to Minoritenplatz, where you will have the chance to see either the palace where the Exterior Office is and the Minoritenkirche, built around 1224 and whose appearance is the result of several renovations during the centuries. Inside, you will have the chance to admire a copy of the Last Supper of Leonardo, made with mosaics.
As soon as you enter the Museums Quartier, you will notice that you find yourself in one of the major cultural centers of the world. There, you just will have to choose. If you're in Wien with children, they will for sure like the ZOOM Kindermuseum and the math.space. (yes, I'm not kidding: they will like it). If you're an art lover, you will probably head to the MUMOK or to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Inside, you will have the chance to admire several masterpieces, such as the Atelier by Vermeer, the Saliera by Cellini and works by Velázquez, Coello, Rubens, Rembrandt, Pieter de Hooch, Bruegel the Old, Rubens, Van Dyck, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Arcimboldo, Clouet and Poussin (and the list isn't over yet). Nearby, you will find the Neues Rathaus, HQ of the Municipal Assembly. Its architecture is one of the best examples of Neo Gothic style in the city. And - if it happens that you are in Wien during Summer - head to its Arkadenhof at night, to enjoy open air concerts...but, if you're looking for something more...glamorous, the Burgtheater will provide you several performances, at the height of its fame (yes, it's the most prestigious theatre of German speaking countries), the Theater an der Wien will for sure make you happy with its several musicals and the Wiener Staatoper (in Albertina Platz, just in front of the Hofburg) will amaze you too, be it either with its decorations or with the Ball of the Staatoper, a mundane event, where the young ladies of the jeunesse dorée enter into society. Nearby, the Opernring has several luxury boutiques. Nearby, do not forget to give a glance to the Reichsrat, in Dr. Karl Renner Ring 3. It's here that the Republic was proclaimed, back in 1918.
Extravagant buildings and gardens awaits you in the zone of Belvedere. Start your visit by the Karlskirche, a church built in the XVII century, as a votive offering to S. Charles Borromeus by the emperor Charles VI, after the city had been devasted by black death. The architect Johann Bernhard Fisher von Erlach took inspiration by the ancient buildings of Greece and Rome, adding oriental influences and hence giving birth to a Baroque and eclectic masterwork. The Belvedere Palaces and Gardens were built for Eugene of Savoia, the commander in chief of the army that fought and won against Kara Mustapha. The Oberes Belvedere hosts a collection of the masterworks by Gustav Klimt and some other pieces by Van Gogh, Kokoschka and Gerstl. The Unteres Belvedere on the other hand, hosts the museum of the Austrian Baroque with rooms such as the Marmorsaal and the Grotesksaal. Do not forget to pay a visit to the Karlsplatz pavillons, designed by Wagner at the end of the XIX century. Original, charming and elegant, they host either a pastry store or a space for exhibitions.
Out of the center of the city, lies the Prater, in the past Imperial Hunting Lodge. It's in 1766 that it was opened to the public and during the XIX century part of its grounds were transformed into a Luna Park and its panoramic wheel of the Prater is world famous. But the panoramic wheel isn't the only wonder into the park. Around it, the Volksprater will arise your levels of adrenaline in the blood, and the Freudenau Hippodrome will concur to have them above the standard. So, get the chance to unwind into the Hauptallee too...If you like the idea of something different, remember to visit the Hundertwasser Haus, a popular housing complex built in 1985 and breaking with the modern architecture of the time...and of today too, since it seems to be into a movie studio, and you will be amazed by the colors and the shapes of the place.
Finally, out of the city center, a must is for sure the Schönbrunn Palace, what once was the summer residence of the Imperial family. If its works began under the reign of Leopold I, they continued under Maria Theresa, who decided to make it bigger and magnificent, so as to be called the Versailles of Wien.
When you find yourself in Wien, do not forget to take a stroll at night at the Alte Donau, in a romantic frame after a dinner.
Finally, a note about shopping... Antique stores are quite famous, and if it happens that you are interested, try Schönbrünner Strasse and the auctions at the Dorotheum. Heiligenkreuzerhof - on the other hand - will offer you paintings and art by the artist directly. During the period of Christmas, do not miss the Alt Wiener Christkindlarkt, whose atmosphere is - in a word - enchanting. Wien is the capital of music, and classical still has a role in Wiener life. So, if you wish to buy some music by Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Lanner, Brahams, Mahler and Johannes Strauss I and II, you are in the right place. Try hence Arcadia on Kärntner Strasse 40 or - at the same address, but nr. 30 - EMI. Alternatively, in Graben 16 you will find Gramola.
Stay in one of the many top quality Vienna short term apartment rentals available to experience this great city. The apartments can be split into the various sections you would require to make your stay perfect. These sections include pools, garages, internet and many other homely comforts that you may need. The apartments are also available for pet owners as well.