My arrival in Vienna was punctuated by a performance at the Hofburg Palace, the winter residence of the Hapsburgs, to hear Viennese waltzes and Mozart arias. This was not before I made a deviation to a nearby exhibition in the adjacent building entitled: “Vienna: the World City”, that happened to be located in the Austrian National Library, one of the treasures of the world.
When Vienna was about to host a world exhibition in Vienna, Franz Josef decided in 1857 that it was time to demolish some of the old parts of the city center for a Ringstrasse, or Ring Road. As part of this development, he implemented a number of improvements for the city. Among them were the water distribution system and the Vienna Opera House. He set up a competition for the water system that was won by Suess, an Austrian geologist. Unfortunately, the architects who designed the Vienna opera house never saw its completion as one committed suicide after harsh criticism, and another died before the opera house was finished. It’s worth reading the text attached if you are interested.
You can also read a synopsis of Viennese and Austrian history that helped me get a better understanding here: http://www.vienna4u.at/history.html
The Hapsburg Empire lasted over six centuries, one of the longest reigns in European history. As a result, the grandeur of the royalty remains among the most opulent and excessive of any city I have seen. While it has been nearly 50 years since I was first in Vienna, I do not recall any other city with such a display of pomp and wealth as this one.
Ironically, back to my undeniable and insatiable consumption of culture generated by wealth and greed. That will take more than another long essay to reconcile. Maybe these travels will finally kick me of this addiction.
The performance was the perfect end to a long travel day: Viennese favorites Johann Strauss Walzes and Mozart operatic arias led a debonaire Andre Rieu-like conductor with a humorous flair.