Vienna has 1.8 million inhabitants, and the second largest has a little over 200,000 which shows just how populated Vienna is. And in case you were wondering, Salzburg, famous for being the location where The Sound of Music was filmed has around 150,000 people residing there. Because it got confusing trying to figure out what location the different flags in the city belonged to, the Austrian flag is red, white, and red, whereas the flag of Vienna is solely red and white.
As we continued our bus tour of Vienna, we came across the city’s former military barracks, which is currently the ministry of defense, with a statue honoring Franz Josef right in front. Between 1860-1900 Franz Josef put the entire city of Vienna under reconstruction, with hopes of making the city more appealing.
Before getting off the bus, we passed by the Augustinian Church, originally built in the 14th century, and known to have hosted many weddings in the Habsburg family. As we got off the bus, we continued our tour of the city on foot, and stopped at the Hofburg Palace, which belonged to the Habsburg family and took 600 years to build. The statue in front of the Hofburg Palace commemorates the oldest Habsburg son, Prince Eugene of Savoy who was one of Europe’s most successful military commanders.
On site is where you can also find The Spanish Riding School (founded by Marie Theresa’s father), that has been training horses for 450 years. It takes between six to eight years to prepare the horses to become stallions for shows. I was nervous taking pictures since we weren’t allowed to, so hopefully that explains why the pictures look the way they do.
In 1989, the pavement in front of the Hofburg Palace had to be renovated, and surprisingly enough, Roman ruins were discovered. One-third of the ruins have been preserved and are visible to the public, but the other two-thirds have been covered up again.
As mentioned earlier, it took hundreds of years to complete the building of this Palace, and the reason being was because at times, money was scarce to continue the project, so there wasn’t a big rush to complete the construction. In 1913, construction had been completed (or at least as completed as it is today). At the time, the Habsburgs had plans to continue construction, but shortly after, World War I broke out, and the imperial family needed the money to deal with the situation at hand. And in 1918, the Habsburg monarchy came to an end, which was the end of a monarchy that has been in power since the late 1200’s!
The red building pictured below used to be drawbridge with a moat around it. It was the first building on the grounds and belonged to the court. The square of the first building currently belongs to government officials. You will also see a balcony pictured, which belonged to Franz Josef, and the sundial belonged to his wife Sissi.
So we’re all clear here… The Hofburg Palace was only a winter home to the Habsburgs… Schönbrunn Palace (discussed and pictured in a prior post) was their summer home. That’s a total of 3,841 rooms, so imagine, you could spend one night in each room, and that would take you over ten years to do!
Currently, the Hofburg Palace is home to the Austrian National Library as well as an arms museum. There are 2,400 rooms, all owned by the state, and each room is still in use today. The residence and office of the Austrian President is also located in the Palace, as well as an important congress center.
After touring the Hofburg Palace, we walked through the Naschmarkt, which is the largest outdoor market in Vienna. Nosh in Yiddish and German both mean “to eat a snack or light meal,” so if you couldn’t tell, the market was filled with all kinds of food, snacks, vegetables, meats, and restaurants. We also noticed that the Vienna Opera House was closed off, and that’s because Mission Impossible Five was actually filming while we were there!
We stopped in a local cafe, and ordered an iced coffee which came with ice cream and whipped cream inside, in addition to an apple strudel on the side. By the time we walked back to our hotel, we were hungry again (which I guess is okay since we were on vacation). We went to a local restaurant and ordered traditional Austrian food, chicken schnitzel (which is breaded chicken) and a beer on the side (which again is okay thanks to being on vacation)!