The next stop from my Europe trip takes us to Vienna, Austria. If you missed the start of the trip, Budapest, click here.
Known as the “Imperial City of Europe,” the magnitude of Vienna only became apparent to me once I stepped out of the train station and noticed how the buildings to my left and right rose like mountains, trapping me in their valley. Historic Budapest was beautiful, but something about Vienna struck me as different. I felt tiny and insignificant walking around, as if the streets were made for people larger than I, in both stature and importance. Each building had been carefully crafted, each statue had been meticulously carved, and the streets had been designed to flow beautifully from one to the next.
For the Babenberg to the Habsburg dynasties, Vienna served as the resident city for the royal family. For the Holy Roman Empire, Vienna became the de facto capital and a cultural center for arts and science, music and cuisine. This focus and influence is what ultimately led to modern-day Vienna, a city of tolerance and unique cultural mixing. Austrian food has Italian, German, and Hungarian elements to it. The city is extremely progressive; all public transportation had pride flags flying, and the district we stayed in was one of the most populated LGBT communities in the world.
What I found most interesting about the city is its ability to fuse the past with the present. The city embraces its roots – power, wealth, and beauty – all while undertaking a progressive approach towards political policy and respect for other cultures. While Vienna may not command the attention it once did, the Imperial City is a shining example of what is possible when the rich origins of a city are combined with forward thinking. I hope my pictures can give some insight into what that looks like.
This is the first of many photos that really portrays that “Imperial City” vibe. The magnitude of everything, especially in this area of the city was astounding, and I think the juxtaposition of the biker and the building really exemplifies that.
There is no story behind this picture. It simply embodies what Vienna is; a vibrant city that has managed to combine its roots with the lifestyle of tomorrow.
This photo was taken inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Museum of Art History), one of my favorite museums from the entire trip. The journey it took you on was overwhelming at times. The corridors seemed to never end and you found art displayed in unique and interesting ways with every turn, as seen above. The shadows add another element of depth to the statue. There are two stories told in this photo: one by the shadow and one by the statue. Although neither is visible in its entirety, they come together to offer something new and unique.
I found this gentleman recreating the painting in front of him. He was focused amidst the constant footsteps that echoed throughout the halls of the museum. I observed him for about 5-10 minutes. He was meticulous, standing up in between strokes to compare his work with the original. You could tell that he had already spent multiple days working on it and was committed to spending even more. Sometimes, you have to tip your hat and say, “well done.”
The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens were simply stunning. Again and again you were reminded of how small you were in comparison to everything around you, highlighting the power, wealth, and reverence this city once maintained. The view from the top of the Gardens (below) really put it all into perspective.
At the top of the Gardens was the final building, that when climbed gave you a phenomenal view of the city and the Palace. Incredible symmetry was consistent throughout the grounds, and every glance seemed to satisfy that innate desire for perfection.
The Tiergarten Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world, and visiting it was one of the highlights of our trip. The day we visited this zoo, I was able to get as close as I’d ever been to my favorite animal: the tiger. These beautiful beasts are sleeping peacefully, and for about 10 minutes I just snapped and observed. Although they were on the other side of a thick glass screen, I was able to appreciate them in all their beauty. Tigers are an endangered species, and to learn more about these incredible creatures and how to help them, check out the link here.
And finally, the view from the top of the Schönbrunn Palace: one of my favorite views in all of Europe. The attention to detail and symmetry is truly remarkable for a project of this size and scale. It continues to amaze me to this day.
This ferris wheel, Wiener Riesenrad, is located inside the Prater – Vienna’s amusement park. With rides that make you get close and personal with death, fake ice cream cones that are only cream (c’mon), and attractions that make you go “Is this legal?” Prater was one of the more unique places in Europe. It was an absolute blast, and at the heart of it was this ferris wheel built in 1897. Having survived both World Wars, the ferris wheel is a symbol of perseverance for the people of Austria.
On our final day in Vienna, we found a popular canal on the Danube River that was covered in graffiti. All artwork here is legal, and the street artists of the city let their imaginations run wild. They create beautiful works of art that contrast the historic canal with modern day expression.
I think we can all agree that historic European cities look better at night. Vienna is no different.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. The timing, the colors, the warmth, and the shadows all come together to create an image that represents a gateway to a proud and historical city.