Vienna’s location along the River Danube meant that it attracted its first settlers as early as 500 BC and it has remained occupied ever since. Today, it is the capital and the largest city of Austria, not surprising considering that it has been winning the ‘Quality of Living’ title (based on a survey by Mercer) for three consecutive years, from 2009-2011.
The city’s busy social calendar makes a trip to Vienna enjoyable irrespective of which month you choose. But, the sunshine, the clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures make summer the most popular time for most visitors. Autumn and spring here are pretty mild, so if you are looking to avoid the crowds, then these are the ideal seasons.
Art and culture are an intrinsic part of Vienna. Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert amongst others drew inspiration from the city as they lived and worked here, adding to its reputation as a City of Music. Also, the many examples of various architectural styles ranging from classical to modern make Vienna appear like an open-air museum.
It’s Like A Circus In Here
When I was a child I wanted to run away and join the circus, I thought I could be a great juggler. But after having smashed several plates after a few amateur attempts, I knew that dream had to be shelved.
The 25h Hotel in Vienna does a pretty accurate job of providing its patrons with a slice of the circus life. Home to Prater, the Opera and a constant stream of theatre and shows, Vienna has always been a city that showcases the spectacular and the 25h Hotel doesn’t fall short of toeing this line.
Lion-cage partitions greet the visitors at the lobby; fortunately no predator seems to be prowling behind its bars. Vibrant coloured cut-outs of alphabets in a fun font adorn the walls.
The element of drama carries on into the rooms. Outrageous costumes have been pinned up on the walls. A hula hoop makes up the wall décor in one room while a saxophone peeks out from a shelf in another.
Tigers leaping through flames, ringmasters, swinging acrobats, jugglers and jokers form a collage of paintings behind the bed. Innovative light fittings and furniture adds to the atmosphere.
Most of the artefacts are originals sourced from the circus ring itself; some are from the Empress of Austria’s own circus. A greenhouse on the terrace houses the bar and provides a spectacular view of the city below.
They Love Me They Love Me Not They Love Me….
‘A temple of bullfrogs!’, some proclaimed. And this was one of the milder titles awarded to the Vienna Secession Building when it was first presented to the Viennese.
It was commissioned in 1897 amidst much opposition by the Municipal Council and had to undergo many changes at the planning stage at the Council’s behest. Initially, it was meant to be a temporary exhibition pavilion for the Secession artists for 10 years but its continued existence is testament to the fact that it managed to endear itself to the citizens of Vienna. The building today is a key example of Viennese Art Nouveau.
Dinner In The Underbelly
The purple glow of the lights under the steps is the only indication that this is not a regular pedestrian underpass. About twenty steps later, it is difficult to believe that until recently all this served was for pedestrians to cross the road safely. Today, it is the site of the Albertina Passage – Vienna’s first dinner club.
An ultra-modern elevated stage is the centre place of this restaurant. Besides accommodating the bar along its length, it also has a dedicated space for a live band and a DJ. The eclectic decor creates a worthwhile atmosphere under the whizzing Vienna traffic.
Make Way For The Old
Have you ever walked into a museum and imagined how that string of gemstones would look around your neck? Or how appropriate the antique vase was for your living room? The Dorotheum in Vienna brings you one step closer towards realising that dream.
Established in 1707, it is one of the world’s oldest auction houses and continues to hold auctions every week even today. Besides holding auctions the Dorotheum galleries retail art, antiques and other decorative objects. And for those whose pockets do not run deep enough to splurge on the old, it still commandeers a visit to admire and to aspire.
Text By Himali Kothari