Thursday, September 29, 2016

Vienna: A Symphony of Art, Architecture & Music

For centuries, Vienna was the crown jewel of the rich and powerful Habsburg Empire. The capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. A century after the empire's fall, the Viennese appreciate their imperial legacy as a cultural wellspring, from the city's extraordinary wealth of elegant gardens, sumptuous art and fine music. Today’s cityscape is characterized by the abundance of baroque buildings created mostly under the rule of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Franz Joseph, who are largely responsible for the monumental architecture around Vienna's famed Ringstrasse, lined with grand buildings, monuments, parks and fabulous museums, including the beautiful Belvedere Palace with works by Egon Schiele and the world's largest collection of Klimt's paintings.

The monument of Maria Theresa dominates the main square of Maria-Theresien-Platz in Vienna; she was the only female ruler of the Habsburg Empire

The Museum of Natural History

Zues with Leda and the Swan Fountain outside Vienna's Kunsthistoriches Museum

Sculpture of Prince Eugene of Savoy in front of Austrian National Library,  
housed in a commanding Baroque building from 1726

Emperor Franz I in the guise of Julius Caesar, in the Hapsburg Palace courtyard 
of the Imperial Apartments

The Hapsburg Imperial Apartments

Montage of two forms of time keeping on the roof of the Imperial Apartments

The massive Hapsburg crest crowns the roof of the Palace

Statue of Hercules and Antaeus created by Matthielli beside to the gate of the Michaelertrakt,
 on the Franzensplatz side of the Hapsburg Palace

The famous red-black Swiss Gate displays the many titles of Emperor Ferdinand I and escutcheon from the Order of the Golden Fleece, and leads to the Chapel of the Vienna Boys Choir who perform at each Sunday morning service

The beautifully painted ceiling of the Swiss Gate

Established by a Habsburg emperor in the year of 1498, 
the Vienna Boys' Choir is one of the oldest choirs in the world

Monument of Emperor Joseph II, dressed in a toga and a laurel wreath, reflects the Habsburg belief that they were descendants of the ancient Roman emperors

Rooftop sculpture of Gaia with the terrestrial globe flanked by allegories of Geometry and Geography

Dome of St. Michael's Wing of Hapsburg Palace in Michaelerplatz

A horse-drawn carriage ride with an original Viennese 'Fiakers' 

The entrance to the Hapsburg Imperial Palace gates from Michaelerplatz

View of the Palace from Kohlmarkt, originally known as Coal Market is one of the oldest streets in Vienna

French horn player on the street being filmed by the Vienna Philharmonic

Vienna unites culture and modernity with state of the art metro stations throughout the city

One of Vienna's enormously popular Würstelstands which sell sausages such as käsekrainer, 
pork sausage dotted with melting cheese

Demel is a famous pastry shop and chocolaterie established in 1786 in Vienna, and which my dear friend Dorothea suggested we visit while in the Imperial city

Demel's homemade confections, pastries and cream cakes

The original 19th-century interior of Demel designed in the Rococo style

Demel's menu of savoury and sweet temptations

Goulash Soup

Clear Beef Soup with Dumpling

Lovely warm and fresh breads from Demel's kitchen

Tartare of Avocado and Irish Smoked Salmon with Coriander Creme Fraiche

Quiche Lorraine with small leaf salad 

Poached Salmon with Russian Salad and Clear Aspic

From the early hours of the day to the late afternoon, apple strudels are drawn and laid out, Sachertorten are decorated and wonderful adornments are produced in Demel's on site bakery

Cakes cooling on the baking racks before being iced and decorated

The Demel shop, which is set in the historic salon on the ground floor, has a selection of delectable products that have been poured, filled and formed by hand for over 200 years

Empress Sisi liked to indulge in the sweets that were made at Demler, but needless to say, the young empress did not buy anything herself, rather she got Mr Demel himself to personally deliver the candied violets that she so loved, to the royal court at the Hapsburgs

The ornate iron gates of the Belvedere Palace

The ornate Rococo exterior of the Belvedere Palace 

The lower palace of the Österreichisches Barockmuseum - The Austrian Museum of Baroque Art - which displays 18th-century Austrian Art

The modern upper landing of the Belvedere Palace

Gustav Klimt: Frieda Riedler , 1906 - Oil on canvas

 Claude Monet, The Cook, 1882

Gustav Klimt: Judith and Holofernes, 1901 - Oil on canvas

Gustav Klimt: Portrait of Johanna Staude, 1918 - Oil on canvas

Gustav Klimt: The Kiss, 1907 - Oil on canvas

Gustav Klimt: Water Serpents I, 1904-07 - Oil and gold on canvas

Located in the heart of Vienna opposite the imperial Hofburg Palace and Spanish Riding School, the Palais Pallavicini is an architectural jewel combining baroque splendour and elegant classicism. One of Vienna's most beautiful historic event locations, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert were both frequent guests at the Palais and played in the Grand Ballroom where we would be enjoying and evening of fine wine, traditional Austrian cuisine, serenaded by special performances of opera, ballet and classical music. Organized by Tauck as part of our Danube River Cruise, the evening began with a Champagne Reception in the palace's elegant Marble Hall.

Palais Pallavicini in Vienna 

The beautiful entrance into the Palais Pallavicini

The staircase, with its beautiful classical latticework leads to the magnificent state rooms 
on the second floor

Champagne Reception in the Marble Hall of Vienna's Baroque Palais Pallavicini

Serenaded by a string quartet, guests sip champagne in the Palace's opulent setting 

After cocktails we were invited into the spectacular Great Ballroom, framed by gilded stucco and baroque mirrors, to enjoy an evening of dining, opera, ballet and classical music

An embroidered Palais Pallavicini napkin ring marked every guest's table setting

Set with Viennese crystal and candlelight, the tables were set with both a wine and dinner menu

Kaiser Semmel Imperial Roll and Viennese Pretzel 

The wine list featured our favourite white wine of our trip, an Austrian Gruner Veltliner

White glove wine service!

The Gruner Veltliner was from the Hannes Rennhofer Vineyard of Hobenbach

The dinner menu for the evening 

Dressed in smart black suits, tie and white gloves, the servers arrived with our first course, 
a fresh garden salad with radish and raspberry vinaigrette

A simple said with light vinaigrette was a pleasant interlude from the many rich meals 
we had been enjoying during our time away

Pumpkin Cream Soup garnished with croutons

Before our entrées were served, two ballet dancers performed scenes from Coppélia,
a comic ballet about a lonely and disillusioned toy maker who wishes he could bring his dolls to life 

Dr. Coppélius creates Coppélia, a stunning, life-sized dancing doll

After the ballet performance, dinner was served

Spinach Strudel with Herb Sauce and Boiled Potatoes with Seasonal Vegetables

Hollandaise sauce for the trout

Roasted Filet of Salmon with parsley boiled potatoes, seasonal vegetables and roast tomato

An interlude of operatic performances preceded dessert

Although we didn't have time to get to the Vienna Staatsoper, 
we were treated to an evening of glorious opera by both singers

'Schmankerlparfait Pallavicini' was the unlikely name for the dessert served, which was served with both raspberry coulis and chocolate sauce

A silver 'gravy' boat of chocolate sauce for the parfait

'Schmankerlparfait Pallavicini' - iced cream with caramelized nuts topped with raspberry coulis 
and chocolate sauce

A cup of Viennese coffee 

After a wonderful evening, we descended the marble staircase 
and were whisked back for a night of slumber on MS Savor

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