Mesmerizing Austria: Part 1

It is that time of the year for our family when it is an annual ritual of discussing our trip for the summers. After reviewing various brochures, we zeroed down to Austria. This trip turns out to be a very unique one as we visit places we had not even planned for. Also for the first time we hire a 7 seat car in Europe to see this beautiful country at our own pace and time. We witness the old world charm of Hallstatt, the ecstatic feel when we travel deep below the ground level for the salt mines, the mesmerizing ferry ride in Konigsee to the historical city of Vienna with its huge palaces, museums and parks. These and many more exotic places to see and experience. Yes, Austria is that engaging and a must visit place for families and individuals alike. Read on.

Hallstatt

central europe 1221

The Hallstatt village can be toured best on foot. The century old houses of the Hallstatt will come alive and it seems they are conversing to you about its rich heritage, culture and life then. The small pathways, the houses , narrow steps leading to individual houses, the church, all are the core fascination points of this unique Unesco World Heritage village. They give you a peek into the world gone by centuries ago. The fjord like lake can engage you with its charm and beauty. Hallstatt has one of the oldest salt mines discovered in this world. One more unique attraction in this picturesque lake village is the Charnel or the bone house.

Places to see and things to do

  • Kalvarienberg Church

This church is located at the  edge of the village of Hallstatt.In fact it can be the start point to tour this amazing lake village. It treasures some beautifully carved crucifixion figures from the baroque period. Also known as the Cavalry church, it is built to honour the sufferings of Christ, as a plea for owns salvation and in Hallstatt, as place of prayer for the miners and their families.

  • Hallstatt Charnel House

The Charnel House or bone house is located in St Michaels Chapel. It is an interesting tourist sites and every year thousands visit this place. The skulls are painted with names or inscriptions to preserve the identity of the deceased.

  • Cemetery of Hallstatt

Just in front of the parish church is the cemetery of Hallstatt. The graves cannot be occupied by any families. Every grave can be reused after ten years. We saw that angels of various sizes, candles and flowers placed on the graves made them so beautiful to look at.

  • Salt Mine

One of the oldest salt mines discovered in the world is in Hallstatt. It has rich salt deposits, take a tour to know all about salt mines and mining.  Salt is still discovered in the higher mountains in Hallstatt. Do not forget to buy the salt Souvenirs available in packets or bottles from the shops alongside the lake.

  • Hallstatt Lake

To enjoy a breathtaking view and for people who are camera savvy , a boat ride is the way to go. The postcard scenery of this fjord like lake is not something to be missed. Thus taking a boat ride is a must, go across to the other side to the Hallstatt railway station and back. This lake screams romance loud and clear, but the kids enjoy it equally, because the village view becomes a postcard picture from the lake.

Hallstatt Lake
  • Skywalk

To get a breathtaking alpine panoramic view from above, take the impressive viewing platform on the Salzberg, also known as the ‘World Heritage Skywalk’. It is 350 meters above the roofs of Hallstatt houses. It offers a stunning view of the mountains and the lake, also the roofs of the century old house make an unforgettable picture in our minds.

Salzburg

Salzburg is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world to get a glimpse of the life of famed composer Mozart and for the Mirabell palace and garden where the shooting of the famous hollywood musical ‘The Sound of Music’ took place. The old town area called  ‘Allstadt’ has an old world charm. This place still looks much as it did 250 years ago when Mozart lived here. Another major attraction here is the Hohensalzburg Fortress. We spend a good half day at this place which again transports you in an era long gone.

  • Mozart’s museum

Mozart’s birthplace has been turned into a museum and is the most visited museum in Austria. This is a must visit place for all Mozart fans and history buffs. The tour to this museum lasts for about an hour and it transports you back to the days of Mozart. You discover items of everyday use as well as his own Violin and clavichord which is such a joy for Mozart fans.

  • Schloss Mirabell Palace
Mira belle Garden 

It is a historical building in Austria and is listed as a World Heritage Monument. It is a part of the historical centre of the city of Salzburg. When I walk in this garden I get nostalgic with memories of the musical ‘The Sound of Music’ which I had seen when I was a kid with my school friends. My happiness has no bounds when I stand beside the Pegasus fountain where the main lead, Maria, in the movie, sings the famous song ‘Do Re Me’ with the children.

  • Hohensalzburg

This is a 900 years old cliff top fortress, one of the biggest and the best preserved in Europe. We spend a good half day here just getting the feel of this place, and taking in the enchanting views of the city’s sphires, the Salzach river and the mountains. To reach the fortress, we need to take the Festungs Bahn fernicular, which is a joy ride for us and kids both. After taking a walking tour, we go to this amazing restaurant with an enchanting view of this city. The time is well spent here specially in the evenings.

  • St Peter’s-cemetery

Schönau am Konigsee

Lake Konigsee

Though lake Konigsee is located in Bavaria region of Germany, it can be reached by bus from Salzburg, Austria.

The boat ride gives us a chance to view captivating scenery of the surrounding Alps and the lake. When we go deeper we experience magical silence with breathtaking view which touch our inner being. When we reach the middle of the lake the captain of the boat blows a blast on a trumpet, the sound of which echoes a few times in the mountains.

This experience will stay with me forever as I witness the echo for the first time, in this alluring lake. Going ahead we come to the first stop at the St Bartholoma Church which was originally built int he 12th century and remodelled in 16th century. Much of the crowd disembark at this dock, they enjoy photographing the church and the area around. We go further ahead to the last stop or the Salet. I suggest everyone to visit this place as at just 10 minutes walk from the dock and you arrive at a smaller yet beautiful lake called the Obersee. You will find the mesmerizing reflection of the trees and mountains surrounding the lake in the mirror like waters of Obersee. If you are fit for hiking then I suggest you go hiking up to the tall Rothbach waterfall. The way is along the lake and much less populated, thus fun.

Vienna

Vienna, capital city of Austria, is located on the banks of the Danube-it is a city of imperial palaces that housed the Habsburg Dynasty, museums, beautiful baroque complexes, huge gardens and parks. The trick is to take a walking tour of this city where you can enjoy at your own pace. The parliament building, the council hall and the numerous fountains, statues and coffee houses can best be enjoyed on foot. Vienna offers a unique blend of imperial traditions and modern architecture.

Thus Vienna has heaps of fantastic things to do and see, and if you get tired there are beautiful parks to rest with alluring views. The city is dotted with a wide variety of restaurants and  coffee houses serving to every ones taste to satiate your hunger after a good long walk.

Here is a list of places that have set apart Vienna on the world map.

  • Schoenbrunn Palace

This is the most famous attractions of in Vienna – a place with beautiful baroque complexes with imperial ceremonial rooms. It is former residence of the royals from the Habsburgs Dynasty. The spectacular palace with its magnificient gardens does not ever fail to impress its visitors. History says that Emperor Leopold had commissioned the imperial palace of 1441 rooms . It was converted into a residence of Maria Theresa, the only female Habsburg ruler.

  • Hofburg Palace

This palace was the centre of the Habsburg empire for years, it dates back to the 13th century. It is an impressive building in Heldenplatz with a long history. For years it has been the winter residence for the Habsburg Dynasty and the Schoenbrunn has been the Summer residence. It shows many architectural styles from Gothic to Renaissance, Baroque to Rococo, now it houses museums, library, the chapel and the church Augustininkeche. The castle is the only one that demonstrates its medieval past.

  • Volksgarten : Vienna park with a rose garden

It is a public park which is a part of the Hofburg palace and was laid out by Ludwig Remy in 1821. The park was built over with a very romantic view of roses all around. It makes a perfect setting for taking photographs and many tourists can be seen clicking the beautiful array of blooming roses in disparate colours.

A lovely place to relax your tired legs with a spectacular view of blossoming roses after a long walking tour of the palace, museums and the many more attractions of the Heldenplatz. You will find magnificent monuments too when you walk around this vast space that will give you a glimpse into the era gone by.

The graceful, white Theseustempel in the middle of the park is the perfect photo motive.

  • St Stephen’s Cathedral

St Stephen’s cathedral is most iconic place in Vienna. Again, trip to Vienna remains incomplete for any tourist without visiting this place. The most prominent feature of the cathedral is the Gothic South Tower , which was completed in 1433.

St Stephan’s Cathedral has a good collection of art like the Gothic winged altar from 1447, the tomb of Prince Eugene of Savoy, reside. In the North tower, you will find Austria’s largest bell, known as the Boomer Bell. The South Tower has 343 steps to climb after which you reach the watchman’s lookout 246 feet above street level. The staircase is spiral and requires you to be in good health to climb all the steps. Once on top we can enjoy the view of the city and take pictures.

  • Vienna State Opera

Vienna State Opera is one of the leading opera houses in the world, known specially for the performances of Wolfgang Amadeus, Mozart, Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. Mozart operas continue to play an important role at the Vienna State Opera. He composed a total of 22 operas.

You can take a tour in the Opera House that takes around an hour. It is wonderful to know about the Viennese history in the 19th and 20th century through the opera point of view.

Once in a year the opera house detach the seats in its stalls and replace them with elegant dance floor, attracting a huge crowd every year.

  • Cafe Sacher, Wien

This is a well known coffee house in the heart of the city and it takes a visit to taste its famous cake that goes by the name of Cafe Sacher. The very popularity of the cake stems out from its history. Now the history of making of the cake for the first time goes back to year 1832 by a 16 year old apprentice Frank Sacher. It was Eduardo Sacher who opened a luxury hotel in the heart of Vienna by the name of Sacher. Now the hotel has expanded, has its presence n Salzburg and Innsbruck.

  • Albertina Museum

This is the most important museum located in the heart of the city centre, it houses the most fascinating art collections of the world. It owns masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Monet, Chagall, Ritcher and many known artists. There are works from French Impressionism and fauvism to works of expressionist artist groups. These are on permanent display in the museum. You can also view sculptures, drawings, photographs, architecture of the Habsburg era.

There are a few more places you should see like Lake Wolfgangsee, Sankt Gilgen, Fuschlsee, Zell am see, and Kaprun. Thus Austria takes you in old world charm as well as lift our souls with its mesmerising beauty. It has culture, heritage, history, and loads of beautiful places to feast on.

The sculptures all over Austria, specially Vienna is a photographers dream. There are so many stunning monuments which are awesome to look at.

The best part is the convenience in travelling around this country specially with kids. The climate is suitable for travel in the summer season that is April, May and June. Though it might rain too, thus we need to carry rain wear or an umbrella.

Being vegetarians, we were a bit worried about the food, but we did find pastas and pizzas made to order the way we wanted. So food never was a problem for us in Austria.

The people here are very warm and welcoming, which I feel is very important for tourists from other countries. Would definitely love to go back to Austria and visit the places mentioned in this blog once more as I feel going once to this country is just not enough.

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