This major European city was one of the "residential" homes of the Habsburg Dynasty's kings and rulers for several centuries. That's why green patina domes dominate the city's old town area.
And the infamous Saint Stephen's Cathedral . . .
. . . through the centuries of architectural upgrades financed by the Habsburg Dynasty, it becomes more and more grand.
Besides the architecture, the various Habsburg princes, kings and rulers could afford to hire artists and musicians to amuse themselves. Vienna was a hotbed for musicians - Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, to name a few - as well as a hotbed for the elite of Europe who preened and attended balls in Vienna all year long. Imagine arriving in a gold-gilded carriage through this "covered porch" (below photo) to attend a ball . . . with perhaps a 50-piece orchestra on the side while you get out of your carriage?
Architects, painters and construction crews were busy for centuries in Vienna. There's a dazzling array of over-the-top architectural styles because the Habsburg Dynasty could afford it all.
Hundreds of statues in this city, particularly horse statues.
The horse is an important part of Vienna's history and culture. The Habsburg Dynasty needed a strong stocky military horse as well as a carriage horse to impress folks, something noble and grand and preferably all white with an arched neck and high trot. Ta-da! Enter the Lipizzan . . . Vicki and I paid for pricey tickets just to watch their morning exercise at the Spanish Riding School arena.
Ticket prices for their actual performance in this Spanish Riding School arena range from $85 to $235 per person (USD). The seats are in the second and third floor balconies around the entire arena, and during a performance, all the chandeliers and wall scones are lit, giving it an impressive "ballroom" look while the horses dance and leap to classical music.
The $235 seats are probably in this section (below photo) on the second floor balcony.
We got a walk-through their stalls (no photos were allowed but Vicki cheated to get this shot).
The bridle and saddle rooms are ornate, organized and immaculate.
The 30 or so stallions were amazingly well-behaved (no antics, most stallions have a few bad manners, these didn't), and the highly-paid riders who apprentice and maybe get accepted for this position each have a groomsperson who takes care of their horse! When they dismount after practice, a groomsperson walks into the arena to take over (loosen the girth, remove the bridle, halter on, take the horse back to its stall, etc.). It's an orchestrated high-brow type of horsemanship, and very traditional - two women were allowed into this elite group about ten years ago.
The capital city is also home to many embassies.
Was this city always rich and gifted? Click here for a quicky but fascinating read about its' troublesome history in the last one-hundred years. I suspect all the killings, bombings, splintered neighborhoods due to Communism and WWII, the lost of 200,000 Jewish citizens (65,000 sent to gas chambers), and almost losing all their prized Lipizzan horses (click here for an excellent book describing how they were saved with help from the US Army) gave Vienna's citizens pause. Perhaps many of its older citizens remember those troublesome days. Perhaps that's why it's citizens, an international mix of European heritages for centuries, acquired a joie d'vivre attitude, enjoy life in the present.
Enjoying things like restaurants with old charm . . .
Enjoying peaceful outdoor restaurants . . .
Enjoying fresh-cut flowers everywhere, hundreds of flower shops! Vienna folks love their flower displays.
Enjoying fresh-baked goodies (no cellophane packages here) . . . . .
And window shopping! I'm not a window shopper (I hate shopping) but Vicki and I loved walking around this city and stopping to gawk at store window displays. Vienna's style in clothes and home décor is classic and unique, and the city streets are walkable and fun. We did a lot of "oohing" and "ahhing" at things behind those windows.
The "Anchor Clock" is fun, too. Click here for a YouTube movie of the dancers with the music.
Their gardens with many sculptures and statues and fountains are fun, too.
The photo below looks a bit boring here, but when I stood there on the steps going up to another pedestrian plaza area, I looked back and saw all those folks totally relaxing on those purple things and strolling, the parked bikes, the guy pushing that wheelchair out the entrance door, the folks sitting at the outdoor restaurant under umbrellas, the fast-food street stand, and that's why I took this photo. It was a view that made me smile and feel good about life in this city. I think this scene is sort of a microcosm of why Vienna is a very livable city; people are relaxing and enjoying the city.
And another observation of its joie d'vivre culture; its tram cars were free. When Vicki and I stepped up into a tram car, there was no place to pay! We looked at others getting on the tram, no one paid! Hmmmm . . . .