Vienna is a compact city. It boars an astonishing array of monuments, palaces, parks and museums.
From Stephansdom Quarter with its winding streets and spacious squares to the Hofburg Quarter which began as a modest fortress and grew over the centuries to a vast palace, the Hofsburg, Vienna is not only a Medieval city but one that embraced a renaissance. From Schottenring and Alsengrund to the Townhall and Museum Quarter which contains the institutional buildings of the Hapsburg Empre we tour a magical city that at times seems untouched by the centuries.
From the stateliness of the Opera House and the opulence of the Opernring shops to the raucous modernity of Mariahilfer Strasse and the extravagant district of Belvedere, Vienna the city entices and embraces all outsiders.
The history of Vienna was tumultous. Controlled by the Hapsburgs in the 13th century and later by the Turks in the 16th century, Vienna experienced troubled times. Only in 1683, after the Turks were finally defeated, was Vienna allowed to flourish. Immense palaces were built around the court within the city and by the 18th century Vienna was a major imperial and cultural centre.
No finer example of the imperial splendor exists than Schonbrunn Palace. The former summer residence of the imperial family takes its name from a beautiful spring that was found on this site. An earlier hunting lodge was destroyed by the Turks, so Leopold I had a grand Baroque residence designed and built here in 1695.
However, it was not until Maria Theresa employed Nikolaus Pacassi that the project was completed in the mid-18th century. The strict symmetry of the architecture is complemented by the gardens with fountains and statues framed by trees and alleyways. The crowning glory of the hill behind the palace is the Glorriete, a neo-classical arcade built in 1775. The Neptune Fountain, an exuberant fountain and basin, at the foot of the hill, was sculpted in 1780. Adjacent to the Gardens is the oldest zoo in Europe, built in 1752 at the order of Franz Stephan.