Pictures, palaces, parks & the Naschmarkts
After yesterday’s overload of history and culture (that’s kultcha for the Aussies at home), we wanted to see a couple of different types of things today. So we headed out to one of Vienna’s premier art museums, the Belvedere Palace, for the morning to see some cool paintings. We then went to the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s main fresh food market, for the afternoon to sample some of the finest local wares.
The Belvedere Palace is actually 2 palaces: the Upper Schloss Belvedere and Lower Schloss Belvedere (because one schloss just isn’t enough!). These palaces were built as the summer residence of Price Eugene of Savoy in 1712 after his successes in the war against the Ottoman Empire (Prince Eugene was commander-in-chief of the Empire’s armed forces at that time). Set in a Baroque park, both Belvedere Palaces are beautiful buildings. It was worth the trip out to the palace just to see the buildings and the gardens!
In 1776, Empress Maria Theresa acquired the Belvedere Palaces and decided to move the imperial art collection from the Hofburg Imperial Palace to the Upper Belvedere. Inspired by the idea of enlightened absolutism, the intention was to make the imperial collection accessible to the general public. The gallery opened 5 years later, making it one of the first public art galleries in the world.
Like many art galleries around the world, the Belvedere doesn’t allow photos to be taken inside the building so we don’t have much to show for our morning’s adventures. Suffice to say there was much art visually consumed and lots of “Ooohs” and “Ahhhhs” uttered. Arguably the most famous painting housed at the Belvedere is “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. This early 20th century work shows a man bending down to kiss his lover tenderly on the cheek whilst her eyes are closed in rapture (see photo below, care of Wikipedia).
Shane’s favourite painting of the day was a rather dark painting by Austrian artist Adolf Hiremy-Hirschl entitled “Souls on the Banks of the River Acheron”. The painting shows the mythological figure of Hermes standing at the edge of the river of the dead, facing a throng of recently deceased souls who implore him to save them from the last trip to Hades. The painting was huge and incredibly well done. Very creepy!
My favourite painting of the day was Monet’s “A Walk in the Garden”. Like many Impressionist paintings, it was just so colourful and joyful, yet soothing and calming. Neither of us are really “into” art but there were enough examples of various types of art styles at the Belvedere that we got to enjoy some wonderful quiet moments of pleasure.
In sharp contrast to our quiet morning at the art gallery, our afternoon was all colour and chaos! We went to the Naschmarkt for lunch and for a wander around and it was great – so much yummy food! The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular market and has been there since the 16th century. There stalls run for about 1.5kms, selling everything from baked goods to cheeses, cured meats, pickles, olives, spices, fruits, vegetables, leather goods, clothes and even second hand goods. The market was buzzing today with that unique, vibrant atmosphere that can only be found at open air markets. We ate way too much and had a great time sampling the wares from the various food stalls. A great way to spend an afternoon!
After our market trawling we returned to the Hotel Mozart, our current home-away-from-home. It’s a nice enough hotel, pretty basic but clean and functional (what more do you need right – we only sleep here!). The one thing about the hotel that we will always remember however is the decor. It’s mental! The chandeliers are bad enough, but the wallpaper is something else! It’s the kind of decor that has us waking up with a start and a small scream every morning. What were they thinking?! Maybe this was cool in 1923 when this place was built….
Actually I don’t think that wallpaper was EVER cool! Still, we’re only here for one more night so it’s no big deal. From tomorrow we are actually on tour; we’ve signed up for an Intrepid tour of Central and Eastern Europe and the month-long organised tour kicks off tomorrow. We decided to book in for a tour for the next part of the trip as countries like Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria were a little daunting to do on our own. We’re keen to meet our fellow tour guests and guide, and to see what the next 4 weeks will involve exactly – hopefully it’ll be a fun group of people and a good itinerary! Will let you know tomorrow blog fans!