Friday, December 27, 2013

The Tranquil and Famous Mirabelle Gardens in Salzburg

Mirabelle Gardens
Famous Mirabelle Gardens in Salzburg

In the city of Salzburg, lies the Mirabelle Palace built in 1606. The palace was damaged by the great fire that swept through the city on 30 April 1818, but the truly grand marble staircase that led into the palace, and the marble hall survive to this day. Today the palace houses the mayoral and council offices, but the Marble Hall (formerly the prince-archbishops' ballroom and concert venue) is often considered to be one of the most beautiful wedding halls in the world.

 More famous than the palace itself is the surrounding Mirabelle gardens. The gardens house countless sculptures, statues, and fountains, and you are bound to see something new and interesting at every turn – things like the Dwarf Garden, full of grotesquely deformed dwarfs!

Another famous resident of the gardens is the Grand Parterre, the oldest part of the grounds. Here you will find a plethora of Roman gods dating back to 1689. Moving forward, the large Pegasus fountain, once a centrepiece of the gardens, was installed in 1913 and surrounded by much older sculptures that represent the elements, the copper fountain is a sight to behold and well worth visiting

Another very beautiful part of the gardens is the Rose Hill, come up here for a striking view of the grounds and the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It is best to come here in the day time, however, as the spot is a well-known place for naughty meet ups in the evenings, and you may be privy to less pleasant views!

Mirabelle Gardens
Summer time in Salzburg's Mirabelle Palace and gardens

 The Mirabelle Gardens were first opened to the public in 1854. For hundreds of years people have come to enjoy them, but it is only in recent years that you find people singing ‘Do-Re-Mi’ while running through the hedge tunnel. For those of you with a theatrical flair, the Hedge Theatre is one of the oldest of its kind, and is still used for performances today, including concerts for the Salzburg Festival. While many come to recreate scenes from The Sound of Music, today the gardens are a horticultural masterpiece in their own right, and serve as a popular backdrop for weddings and photographers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Story of Gustav Klimt the Painter

Gustav Klimt July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918

Few people go through life without hearing his name or seeing his painting ‘The Kiss’. Gustav Klimt was an Austrian artist born in 1862 just outside of Vienna. He was a symbolist painter whose pieces were often considered pornographic at the time, and he was certainly fond of the female form, fathering upwards of fourteen children.

Klimt was commissioned to create public art only once, for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna; however, many officials reacted with shock and horror to his piece which never went up. The 3 separate paintings hung in a gallery until they were all destroyed by the retreating SS forces during World War Two

Growing up Klimt idolised another very popular Viennese painter Hans Makart, and was awarded a scholarship to the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. He went his own way, however, when he moved on to the Vienna art scene and became one of the founding members of the ‘Wiener Sezession’ (Vienna Secession) in 1897. This was a group of artists who couldn’t stand the conservative nature of the art scene, regulated by the Association of Austrian Artists. Klimt became the first president of this new and pioneering group, who made waves across Vienna with the slogan ‘To every age its art, to art its freedom’. Similar secession movements were even set up in Berlin and Munich. The group held its very first exhibition in Vienna in 1898, but the heady days of dissident art came to an end in 1905 due to differences of artistic opinion between the Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists.

"The Kiss" painted between 1908 to 1909

After the Secession years, Klimt really found success, using the period signature gold leaf, and receiving first prize in the world exhibitions in Rome. Klimt continued to work up until suffering a fatal stroke on February 6, 1918. He was buried at the Hietzing Cemetery in Vienna. He left behind one of the most impressive artistic legacies to date, with his portrait ‘Adele Bloch-Bauer I’ selling for $135 million - the highest price ever recorded for a painting.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Danube Tower of Vienna

The Danube Tower of Vienna
The Danube Tower of Vienna

The ‘Vienna Donauturm’ or Danube Tower was built in 1964 and has since become an integral part of the Vienna skyline. As a popular tourist viewing point, the tower has over 450,000 visitors a year. Rising for 252 meters from the greenery of the Donaupark, the tower looks over the bank of Europe’s second longest river, the Danube. The park and gardens around the tower are relaxing and lovely to walk through, and there is a beer garden situated at the base of the tower, so give yourself some time to reach the main attraction. 

776 steps lead to the Donauturm viewing platform; but don’t worry, if you aren’t up for the climb there are two elevators to help you out. These travel 150 meters in just 35 seconds. Although once the site of a tragic air-balloon accident in 1968, the platform now serves as what I’m sure is a very safe bungee site for some of the thrill seekers among you! Rather you than me – I have to say!

The Danube Tower isn’t just a pretty place, it serves as a communication tower, and is also
home to not one, but two revolving restaurants! The ‘Panorama’ and ‘Isola’ restaurants sit above the viewing platform, and from here you can gaze over the old Austrian capital and the Vienna woods from one of the tallest buildings in the city. 

Vienna Donauturm
View of the Danube Tower from a distance

You’ll need to call ahead and book a table during the summer months, and pay a fee to enter the tower; however if you time your meal to coincide with the sunset it will all definitely be well worth it. Enjoy some excellent Austrian delicacies here, but perhaps leave it a while before hitting the bungee ropes.

The Danube Tower of Vienna really is a great tourist attraction in its own right; but it also serves as one of the most fashionable eating establishments in the city with a view that really is to die for.