For the victorious allied countries in WW2 Austria was enemy country, and after the peace the four of them administered the country together, just like in Germany. One of those allies, the Sovjet Union, true to their traditions built a victory monument in Vienna. It’s still here, a semicircular bow of stone pillars with advancing soldiers on top. Today a wall behind the monument has been painted with Ukraine’s colours blue and yellow. And some of the wreaths laid down by the central pillar also carries the blue-yellow ribbon.
Just a few Metro stations and a short promenade away from the city centre we enter the grounds of the Belvedere, a palace that once was the home of the archduke Frans Josef. He was to be the next kaiser of Austria but was shot in Sarajevo in the incident that would become start WW1. Today re is an excellent art museum where the centerpiece is Gustav Klimt’s famous painting “The Kiss”.
Actially Belvedere is two palaces with a very elaborated garden in between them. We only enter the upper palace that has great art, both classic and modern in its many rooms. Another famous painting here is the portrait of Napoleon on a horse, and we also find works of the Norwegian Edvard Munch. Personally I found the expressive paintings by Klimts pupil and fellow Austrian Egon Schiele most rewarding, his gnarly and twisted portraits are really strong.
We’ve already mentioned that the inner city in Vienna is dominated by 19th century architecture, with vey few modern elements. But at the same time some of the most extreme house designs are found here. The Austrian modernist Hundertwasser designed a house and was let his fantasies to flow free. He had this idea that a straight line was “godless”, so there are no such atrocities on his “Hundertwasser house” as it is now called. Just a few blocks away from it is Hundertwasser’s own museum that has a comprehensive and fun display of his works and ideas.
And another spectacular house is Majolikenhaus near the the big food market “Naschmarkt”.
Naschmarkt is an institution in Vienna, it has existed forever. To walk through its aisles between laid out greens, bread, spices, sweets and sausages and ugly pottery is a fiesta for all senses. One man has a shop filled with apple based balsamico, flavored with all kinds of fruit and berries. You can bring your own bottle and just fill it up from his tanks. And everywhere there are cafés and restaurants if you want to rest a bit. We find our excellent lunch with a mid-eastern twist at Neni am Naschmarkt.
Speaking of food, in Vienna you never have to walk far to get a “wienerschnitzel”. Every restaurant has it on their menu. We had ours at Lugeck, and it was just perfect. But even though many restaurants serve traditional food there are also some that definitely create more exciting meals. Palmenhaus, absolutely, but also Buxbaum. And we get a very nice Hot Pot at Mama Liu & sons. There are a coupe of places here with Michelin stars but you have to reserve a table several weeks in advance, so we don’t know what they were like.
Back to Naschmarkt, if you walk it all the way through it you’ll find yourself in a big. flea market. It is particularly popular with people looking for old vinyl records, but here you’ll also find the usual junk mix found in any flea market in the world. But here and there it’s possible to spot more interesting stuff. We found a beautiful old musical box called “Symphonion” complete with records. It’s a German invention that precedes the gramophone, and you can find similar boxes on ebay for around six hundred dollars. We regret we didn’t buy this one.
We’ve been through so many art exhibitions now that we start to look for something different. And we do find it, “3rd Man Museum”, a really odd but fascinating collection of all kinds of stuff that has anything to do with the classic postwar movie “The Third Man”, with Orson Welles. Posters, hundreds of them from all corners of the world, scripts and stories about the filming, gadgets from the film, like the cither played by Anton Karas in the lead music “Harry Lime Theme”. There’s also a part describing the political situation in Austria before, during and after the war. The partially destroyed city and the political chaos that is the setting of the movie. And yes, they have the film for sale in museum shop.