Jun 25

Mozarthaus (Casa lui Mozart)

The name of Mozart is known to everyone, even to those who are not that fond of classical music. But even so, it is unacceptable for individuals not to acknowledge the genius behind more than 600 works of music. Mozart is an emblem of classical, symphonical and opera music and the Austrian people can only be proud that such a gifted man came from among them.

Mozart lived in various place throughout Vienna, but only one is considered as the official residence of the great artist due to the fact that the edifice remained unchanged since Mozart’s life.

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Tourists who venture into the heart of Vienna – and who would deprive himself/herself of this treat? – are given the opportunity to visit one of the residences which Mozart called ‘home’ for a given period of time. The Mozarthaus is situated in the medieval part of the Austrian capital, alongside various churches, on Domgasse 5 Street.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart occupied the specific apartment during the happiest and most prolific part of his life (1784-1787). It is here where he composed “Figaro’s Wedding” and “Impresario.” The fact that he was quite fond with the apartment is obvious because he lived here the longest out of all the other residences he had.

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The first time the house was opened for visitors was in 1941, right in the tourmented times of WWII. The reason for this was that the Nazis wanted to use the 150 years anniversary since the death of the great composer to their benefit and this was done through propaganda.

The edifice was subjected to major restoration work in 2006 as a means to commemorate the artist – this having been the year when 250 years had passed since his death. Even though Mozart had only lived in a part of the building, more precisely in an apartment which comprised 4 rooms, two offices and an immense kitchen, at present, the entire edifice has been transformed into a museum – dedicated to the life and art of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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But the museum is also aimed at portraying the period of time in which the artist lived, of paiting an image of the 18th century Vienna – the Late Baroque era, a time when the cultural domain flourished in all of Austria.

The exhibition encountered inside the museum offers relevant information about Mozart’s life, even about the less ‘attractive’ parts, such as his activities as part of the obscure freemasonry organization, his gambling activities, his drinking and women problems. But the focus lies on his music and on the overal musical tradition that ‘swept’ Vienna in the 18th century.

http://www.mozarthausvienna.at

 

The edifice is structured as follows: the basement and the downstairs comprise a café, a room where various evets are organized and a gift shop. The actual dwelling space where Mozart spend a part of his life is situated at the first floor and it is considered the most authentic part of the whole edifice. The second floor holds an exhibition dedicated to Mozart’s music. The third floor, in contrast to the 2nd one, which is dediated to Mozart the artist, is dedicated to Mozart the man, meaning that the information provided here is reflexive of his day-to-day activities, and more precisely to the addictions and problems he was confronting himself with.

If you really want to enter into the magical world of music, you should definitely opt for the combined ticket which grants you access both within the Mosarthaus and within the House of Music.

 

http://www.mozarthausvienna.at

 

Visiting hours:

The museum is opened on a daily basis from 10:00 until 20:00.

Fees:

Adults: 10.00 euros

Group ticket: 7.00 euros

Children under 14 years of age: 3.00 euros

Family ticket (2 grown-ups and maximum 3 children): 20.00 euros

Combined tickets – Mozarthaus and House of Music: 17.00 euros

Jun 14

Rathaus Vienna (Primaria Vienei)

One of the main attractions in Vienna is the City Hall (Rathaus) and the reason will become obvious once you glance on the beautiful edifice which is the epitome of the Gothic architectural style. Designed by Friedrich Schmidt, the building was constructed in the latter part of the 19th century, between 1872 and 1883.

What makes the City Hall distinguishable among the other edifices situated on Ring Boulevard is the architecture used in its design. While the other constructions combine various styles, each representative for particular historical periods (this is in fact what makes the boulevard so unique), the City Hall is true to one style, the Gothic one, which was specific to the historical timeframe in which the construction work took place.

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The City Hall is reminiscent of the Gothic cathedrals due to the design of its towers. The gothic era coincided with the period in which cities saw a rapid growth – which also led to the development of a new social class, the ‘urban bourgeois.’  The name given to the City Hall, Rathaus, comes from one of the great symbols of Vienna, the medieval knight Rathausmann.

It is the statue of Rathausmann (that weights 650 kg and reaches 3.4 m in height) which reigns over Vienna from the top of the tower on which it is situated. The armor which dresses the knight had been inspired from the armor worn by Emperor Maximilian I. Gravity had its say, so the statue had to be counterbalanced with the help of an 800 kg sphere that helped the statue to remain erect on the top of the tower, even if the weather conditions might have been dire.

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In 1985, the statue needed to be restored and the workshop that undertook this project had come with a brilliant idea: the craftsmen that worked on the restoration of Rathausmann decided to create a duplicate of the sculpture. At present, this replica can be found in the Rathauspark, the park located in front of the City Hall.

At present, the Rathaus edifice is the main office for Vienna’s administrative department, where more than 2000 people work. Tourists are bound to be mesmerized by the impressive rooms where oftentimes are hosted different types of events such as balls, concerts or press conferences.

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What strike tourists upon entering the Council Chamber is undoubtedly its impressive chandelier which hangs from the ceiling of the 14 meters tall room. This chandelier is noteworthy not solely due to its dimensions (it measures 5 m in diameter), but also the multitude of lights that form it (213 in number). This item was not made out of parts, but it is a sole object in itself, reaching the stunning weight of 3,200 kg. Just to get an idea of its magnitude, you should know that people from maintenance can actually enter inside the chandelier when it is necessary to change the light bulbs – or more accurately, the lamps.

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Besides this item, tourists will also be enchanted by the beautiful decorations. The ceiling is architecturally designed as a sunken panel in the shape of a square and it is adorned with leaf designs made out of 22-carat gold. Right underneath the ceiling, the room is decorated with frescoes which illustrate various scenes from the Austrian history.

The Festival Hall, as the name suggests, was mainly used for balls, concerts, or other similar events. This room, as the Council Chamber, also impresses through its dimensions: 71 m in length, 20 m in width and almost 19 m in height. The room comprises several arcades which create the illusion of space.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Festsaal_Rathaus_Vienna_2007_001.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Festsaal_Rathaus_Vienna_2007_001.jpg

 

Inside the Festival Hall one can notice four portraits done in relief, tribute to four of the greatest composers: Mozart, Haydn, Gluck and Schubert. The wooden floor found inside this room is considered a monument and it is protected by law. The reason for this is that the flooring had been preserved throughout the centuries, meaning that the room has its original parquet made out of a special type of oak tree.

Another room within the City Hall of Vienna is the Senate Chamber. One noteworthy element inside this room is the fireplace crafted out of tin-glazed pottery located on the wall opposite to the entry door, which means that it is the first thing you will set your eyes on while entering the Senate Chamber. The decorative design of the room is truly impressive as it consists of walls exquisitely dressed in green silk damask and a ceiling decorated with tiles and golden ornaments. Right near the entrance door, tourists can admire the statuettes of Johann Strauss and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller.

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Other focal points of Vienna’s City Hall are the two grand staircases. These have iron balustrades on which a multitude of colors are reflected as a result of the sunlight passing through the colorful decorated windows.

Apr 25

Belvedere Palace (Palatul Belvedere)

The Belvedere Palace has been constructed for Prince Eugen of Savoia by the architect J.L. von Hildebrandt and reflects the Baroque architectural style. The palace is part of an immense estate which comprises beautiful parks and offers an impressive view over the old city.

The estate actually consists of two castles, the Upper Belvedere Palace, built between 1720 and 1722 and the Lower Belvedere Palace which was erected much earlier, between 1714 and 1716. It is in this smaller edifice that Prince Eugen resided. The two castles communicate through gardens which are decorated by the means of sculptures, water basins, wells, stairs and small waterfalls.

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The entire ensemble reflects a theme of transcendence representing man’s journey from darkness towards the divine light. The death of Prince Eugen (in 1736) marks the moment when the estate becomes the property of the Habsburg family.

Upon entering the Lower Belvedere, tourists will find themselves in the Court of Honor and from then onwards, they will enter the Marble Hall. The Marble Hall was initially used for receiving guests (high officials). The way in which the walls are designed is representative for the triumphal arch architecture, a style selected as a reminder of Prince Eugen’s grand victories as a military commander.

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On the ceiling of the Marble Hall, visitors can admire a fresco artistically done by Martino Altomonte. The Hall has both antique and baroque sculptures, the latter belonging to the famous artist Domenico Parodi.

On the walls of Sala Terrena (the gorund floor), you can see paintings of the grotesque as this was the current in Vienna in the first decades of the 18th century. The ceiling is painted in the same manner (in the grotesque style) by Jonas Drentwett and it depicts the seasons and the 4 primordial elements.

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Overall, the original paintings have been maintained throughout the years. The only exception is one side of the edifice which has been badly damaged in a bomb attack during WWII. Because of this that particular part of the edifice had to be reconstructed.

The Upper Belvedere was transformed into an art gallery which held the imperial paintings from 1775 onward.

The Sala Terrena from the Upper Belvedere is enclosed by atlases in all of the four corners of the room. The structure of the room comprises 4 pillars which are pretty much essential to the edifice, as it prevents the hall from subsiding.

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The Upper Belvedere has an impressive ceremonial staircase which leads to the main floor. The decoration of the edifice is exquisite. On the right wall lies a stucco relief which reenacts the scene when Alexander the Great defeated Darius, while on the left side, there is an illustration of the moment when Darius’ wives were presented to Alexander.

The Carlone Hall was named after the artist who decorated the hall room, Carlo Innocenzo Carlone and consists of beautiful fresco depictions, which have been preserved to this day (the majority of them).

The Marble Hall of the Upper Belvedere is made up of two floors and it is colored in red-brownish tone due to the marble used to decorate it.

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Both of the palaces have been transformed into museums. The Lower Belvedere Palace has become the Austrian Museum of Baroque Art, whilst the Upper Belvedere houses the Austrian Art Gallery where visitors can indulge themselves with paintings dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. Paintings signed by well renowned artists, such as Van Gogh or Gustav Klimt, are on display at the museums. However, tourists are not allowed to take any photographs so all that is left is to imprint those images in their minds.

The first alpine garden on the European continent was designed in the Belvedere Park in 1803. Today, more than 4000 plants which are normally located in the Alps Mountains can be found in this garden.

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Tourists can visit the estate in whatever period of the year they desire, but in order to grasp the beauty of the gardens, you should definitely schedule your visitation for spring or the beginning of summer because that is when the majority of the flowers encountered here are in bloom.

The palace gained the name of ‘Belvedere’ during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa because of the impressive view in conveyed over the old city.

The Orangery (the Greenhouse) is in close proximity of Lower Belvedere and hosts the Modern Gallery.

The estate is famous for its gardens with their lakes, cascades, statues and flower arrangements. Access to the gardens is free of charge whereas access to the museums and the orangery is allowed only after covering a fee.
For the Romanian population, the palace bears not so positive connotations. Belvedere is the place where on the 30th of August 1940 an international document called the Vienna Diktat was passed. Through this document Romania was urged to yield to Hungary almost half of the Transylvanian territory.