The Hofburg in Vienna is the former Winter Imperial Residence. It was the Habsburgs' principal winter residence, as the Schönbrunn Palace was their preferred summer residence. From 1438 to 1583 and from 1612 to 1806, it was the seat of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, thereafter the seat of the Emperor of Austria until 1918. Today it is the official seat of the Austrian Federal President. This complex of imperial edifices, the first of which was constructed in 1279, grew with the empire, and today the palace is virtually a city within a city. The earliest parts surround the Swiss Court, a courtyard named for the Swiss mercenaries who performed guard duty here. The Hofburg's styles, which are not always harmonious, result from each emperor's opting to add to or take away some of the work done by his predecessors. Called simply die Burg, or “the Palace,” by the Viennese, the Hofburg has withstood three major sieges and a great fire. Of its more than 2,600 rooms in 18 buildings, 54 staircases and 19 courts, fewer than two dozen rooms are open to the public.
When we visited the painting floor of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, we turned a corner into a fairly large room filled with paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn. Of course I have decided to do a post of the paintings. Rembrandt often painted pictures of the Apostle Paul so Paul obviously had a major impact on his life. In his paintings, he tried to capture the force and emotion of Paul's letters. In about 1659, Rembrandt finished another painting of the Apostle Paul. It is a peaceful scene of Paul writing letters at his desk. It is interesting to note the contrast between this picture and the exhilarating action of the Baroque paintings of Paul. Rembrandt, instead of emphasizing the action, portrays Paul as the embodiment of profound meditation. A sword, the trademark of Paul, leans in darkness against the wall. While his face basks in radiant light, the rest of the painting is dark with heavy colors. The depth of vision and feeling is seen with the deep, thoughtful gaze of the apostle. Paul's passionate concern for the gospel is vividly captured by Rembrandt. The painting reveals Paul's emphasis on the Word of God, as the sword of the Spirit, and his role as an apostle bringing the Word.
The present-day appearance of the Viennese Treasury is the result of a long developmental process which began in the 14th century. Back then, the secure vaults located beside the Hofburg’s Imperial Chapel were used to hold implements made of gold and silver, coins, precious stones and pieces of jewelry, as well as documents and insignia important to the House of Habsburg for the purpose of legally ensuring earthly power. Also kept were numerous relics that served as the ecclesiastical prerequisite for this power. The treasury's collection grew significantly during the 16th century, under the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I and later Rudolf II, who moved the treasures to a dedicated wing, known as the Kunsthaus. Since the 18th century, the Schatzkammer is located in the Alte Burg, and accessible from the Schweizerhof (Swiss Courtyard), the oldest inner court of the Hofburg.
While we were in Vienna we decided to we decided to splurge on a gourmet restaurant with an outstanding view over the city of Vienna. So we went to Le Loft, the restaurant on the 18th floor of the Sofitel Hotel. The Alsatian inspired restaurant is a hotspot for lovers of gourmet food thanks to the kitchen concepts of French chef Antoine Westermann. With his numerous awards, including three Michelin stars, he is considered one of the most celebrated chefs in France. An absolute highlight is the floor to ceiling windows. From this slightly different Vienna restaurant you can enjoy an unprecedented view of Vienna, with Stephansdom right at your fingertips.
St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral, seen today in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Austria's capital, St. Stephen's Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in that nation's history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city's most recognizable symbols. By the middle of the 12th century, Vienna had become an important center of German civilisation in eastern Europe, and the four existing churches, including only one parish church, no longer met the town's religious needs. Excavations for a heating system in 2000 revealed graves 2.5 meters below the surface, which were carbon-dated to the 4th century indicating a church from that era was present from ancient times. The church was dedicated to St. Stephen, who was also the patron of the bishop's cathedral in Passau, and was oriented toward the sunrise on his feast day of 26 December, as the position stood in the year that construction began.
Benvenuto Cellini was one of the enigmatic, larger-than-life figures of the Italian Renaissance: a celebrated sculptor, goldsmith, author and soldier, but also a hooligan and even avenging killer. Much of Cellini's notoriety, and perhaps even fame, derives from his memoirs, begun in 1558 and abandoned in 1562, which were published posthumously under the title “The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini”. As noted by one biographer, “His amours and hatreds, his passions and delights, his love of the sumptuous and the exquisite in art, his self-applause and self-assertion, make this one of the most singular and fascinating books in existence.” He confessed to three murders and was several times imprisoned, in one instance breaking out of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome by climbing down a homemade rope of knotted bedsheets.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is one of the foremost museums in the world, with rich holdings comprising artworks from seven millennia – from Ancient Egypt to the late 18th century. The collections of Renaissance and Baroque art are of particular importance. The main building shown above houses the Picture Gallery, the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection, the Coin Collection, and the Kunstkammer that reopened in March 2013. It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Naturhistorisches Museum, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz.
We decided to visit Vienna to visit the newly opened Kunstkammer Wein. Our hotel suggested the nearby Glacis Beisl as a place to go for authentic Austrian food. The Glacis Beisl is not very easy to find, because it is situated at the back of the Museums Quartier. Service is friendly (if a little slow), the atmosphere is great, under a vineyard, it's a real garden, really well located on top of the 300 year old city walls. This eatery is named after the “Glacis”, an open space in front of the historic City Museum. Glacis Beisl has been around since World War II.