Historic Sites

Every city has its own unique feel and vibe, which is determined by a number of things. The local historic sites are no doubt one of the largest contributing factors to the aura that surrounds a city. When in Vienna, we recommend paying a visit to Schönbrunn Palace, in the Airport - Vie area to get a feel for what truly makes up the city.


Belvedere Palace
Photo courtesy of Vienna Unwrapped

The palace and gardens were built as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the military commander who helped defeat the Turks in the 17th century. The complex consists of two palaces, the Upper and Lower Belvedere, linked by a three-tiered formal French garden. The upper palace is the more elaborate of the two and was used for festive occasions. The lower palace served as the prince's living quarters. Both are elaborately decorated and house works by world-renowned artists.

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Secession Building
Photo courtesy of Vienna Unwrapped

This pavilion was built to house the works of artists who turned away from conservative academic aesthetics and started the Secessionist movement during the late 19th century. The entrance is topped with an openwork dome comprised of 3,000 gilt bay leaves and affectionately referred to as the "golden cabbage." The permanent collection houses art by Gustav Klimt. Changing exhibitions feature contemporary and avant-garde works by local and international artists.

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Schönbrunn Palace
Photo courtesy of Vienna Unwrapped

Schönbrunn Palace, elegant former summer residence of the imperial family, is one of Austria's premier tourist spots. The entire grounds can be seen from the Gloriette, on a hill overlooking the site. Tour the ornately decorated palace or visit the carriage museum and the palace theater. Stroll though the Baroque gardens and walkways and see the fountains, the faux Roman ruins, the zoo and tropical greenhouse.

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The Spanish Riding School is world-renowned for its famed Lipizzaner horses. Baroque music accompanies their demonstration of the equestrian art of "haute ecole" dressage in a setting that is more ballroom than stable. Indeed, the riders are formally attired for an elegant gamut of movements that emphasize precision and lightness. Please check their website for a performance schedule.

Read more about Spanische Hofreitschule →

8th District

This interesting example of low-income housing uses a mixture of architectural elements and materials. Glass, brick, ceramic and color are used to both individualize and to unify the exterior of each of the 50 apartments and the building as a whole. Sloping terraces and hanging gardens provide additional visual appeal. It's a decidedly distinctive creation by the eccentric Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

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1st District
Photo courtesy of Vienna Unwrapped

Architect Adolf Loos disliked excessive ornamentation and the exteriors of his buildings were designed quite simply. This early 20th-century building utilizes clean lines and offers a stylish interior. Although today the building's appearance seems unremarkable, the austere structure was considered scandalous during its time, which was more accustomed to ornate and lavish detail.

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The Imperial Apartments are a long succession of rooms located on a first floor wing in the Hofburg palace, and include those occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. The sacred and secular treasures collected over the centuries by the Habsburg family are displayed in 21 of the rooms and include a 10th-century crown, court tableware crafted in the finest gold, silver and porcelain, and portraits of the royals.

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Wagner designed these two Jugendstil buildings at the end of the 19th century. They typify the style, which reacted against the centuries-long ornate traditions of the Habsburg regime. The façades are decorated in colorful floral designs, molded sills and golden stucco. The House of Medallions (#38) is divided into two horizontal sections, one commercial and the other residential. Although not open to tour, they are still worth a look from the outside.

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1st District
Wiener Staatsoper
Photo courtesy of Vienna Unwrapped

The Vienna State Opera House is central to Viennese life and was a symbol of resurgence following World War II. The post-war reconstruction features a neo-Renaissance façade and auditorium, and a stage built with state-of-the-art technology. Highlights include the marble grand staircase and the Tea Salon, as well as tapestries and paintings that depict scenes from famous operas and sculptures of famous composers and conductors.

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*Currently closed for renovations. Visit the Moving Freud Museum instead at Berggasse 13 and Liechtensteinstrasse 19.* Sigmund Freud lived and treated patients at this address from 1891 to 1938, when he left for London to flee from the Nazis. The museum occupies the apartment and includes many of the antiques the psychoanalyst collected during his lifetime, including all of the waiting room furniture. Glass cases containing letters, books, detailed notes and photographs are supplemented with an audio-visual documentary about his family life narrated by his daughter, Anna, who was also a psychoanalyst.

Read more about Sigmund Freud Museum →