On Monday morning, we had to move to a different hotel that was by the University where Michael would be working for the next two days. We dropped off our bags, Michael headed to work and I started out again for the old area of Vienna.
I THOUGHT that I could find the train station, but that didn’t prove to easily be the case: however, as with most detours, there were interesting things to see anyway!
Naturally, I just HAD to go in for a look around. What I found was an open, domed room with soft colored murals on the walls and ceiling…..
As I watched, a priest came in and started getting set up for a service, so I found a bench at the back of the building and settled in to watch. The congregation was mostly women and they simply stood around the altar as the service progressed. The priest started out with a chant and then the women would join in as a response. It was magical to watch and listen……
I am still not exactly sure what type of church it was, but I think that it was probably Russian Orthodox.
As I left, I resumed my search for the S-Bahn station, finally asking a police officer who pointed to this obscure sign…..
Now how did I miss that!!! I walked back to the station, but then couldn’t figure out how to purchase a ticket that would take me on both the S-Bahn and also on the Metro to get to the city. When an Austrian woman asked me how to use the machine, I gave up and decided to walk to the Metro station and get rid of the S-Bahn leg!! A mile later, I found the metro and made my way back to Stephenplatz.
My plan was to return to St. Stephens church and do some more exploring. On Sunday afternoon I had spent some time going thru the main sanctuary, enjoying the simple stained glass windows…..
…..and checking out the order of worship from the morning, seeing that they had sung “Praise to the Lord”.
I paid to enter into the main portion of the church and also purchased an audio guide. You had to leave a Driver’s License before you could get the guide and I noticed that the woman in front of me handed in a Georgia license!! I talked to them briefly and found out that they were from Big Canoe……it is a small world!!
I spent time looking at a Madonna and child statue as I listened to the audio guide describing it. The guide talked about how the mother and child were connected by her scarf wrapping around him. It was then that I saw this sweet photo…..
The main altar was beautiful with the painting meant to look like an open door leading up to heaven……
I don’t understand much about the Catholic church so was interested in this seating arrangement……
I am not sure why this one seat is cordoned off!!
The metal work on this door was magnificent as well…..
One of the intricately carved pulpits included a self-portrait of the sculptor (peeking out of the window at the bottom)……
I enjoyed looking up into the humongous pipe organ…..
The only sad part about this church is that the main altar is closed off unless you pay for it so ordinary people trying to worship during the day had to do so at a smaller altar to the side….
I also went on a tour of the Catacombs underneath the church. It was built in the 1400’s and we passed coffins filled with the bones of Dukes and Bishops. We entered one room that held many pottery vessels and were told that they were not ashes, but contained the internal organs of many who were interred in the catacomb.
We followed a long tunnel further down into the catacomb, with the air becoming colder as we descended. Now we were directly under the plaza outside of the church. Here there were rooms of bones that had been thrown there during the Bubonic Plague epidemic in the 1400’s. There were openings from these rooms that lead to ground level and the bodies were simply tossed in there. They estimate that there are 12,000 bodies interred in this manner.
At some point they decided that they needed more room in these caverns so they had prisoners clean and stack the bones. The result was rooms of neatly stacked bones with skulls embedded in the stacks…..a bit eerie!!!
So, with those previous day memories in my mind, I planned to visit the Church Treasury. I entered the church and asked a uniformed man how to get to the treasury. He motioned for me to follow him as he opened a small elevator door and wordlessly rode with me up the elevator.
I would have LOVED to been able to sit down and give this a try…..
Also, this Lyre playing angel caught my attention…….
I spent a lot of time standing up here, looking at the church and watching the service that was starting to take place……
….and then reluctantly left the church!!
The next planned stop was for lunch, but then I saw a bunch of women going into and out of a large clothing store so, of course, a bit of shopping had to be done first. I ended up visiting two different stores and was really pleased with the clothes that I emerged with!!
For lunch, I revisited one of the Gelato shops that we had stopped at earlier, but went for a bit larger of a meal……
It was magnificent to sit and eat this delight while watching the tourists stroll thru the square!!
My plan was to visit one of the small churches located just off of the square and walked into this gorgeous chapel……
I enjoyed walking thru the building, but kept hearing a sound that I couldn’t quite figure out. It was a whirring noise and seemed to be coming from the front of the sanctuary. As I sat in one of the pews (some were marked “No tourists….only prayer please”), I finally noticed the man hanging from the ceiling with a vacuum cleaner nozzle in his hands!!
I happily watched as he carefully vacuumed all around the statues, taking particular care to clean around the ears and noses!!! I sat for a while and then noticed a flyer on the seat next to me that advertised an Organ Concert that was taking place at 3:00pm….just 10 minutes away. So, I stayed around to listen a bit. Have a listen for yourself….
During the next piece, I looked up to see the workman walking carefully along the top ledge in the church, toting his ladder!!!
I didn’t have time to stay for all of the concert, but really enjoyed what I did get to hear.
There was one last place that I wanted to check out before I left the main square….Loo’s Loo. The story, according to Rick Steves, is that in 1900, a chemical-maker named “Loo” needed a publicity stunt to prove that his chemicals got things clean so he purchased two wine cellars under Graben Street and turned them into classy water closets, complete with candeiliers and mahogany.
So, I paid my .5 Euro to go in and use the facilities in Loo’s Loo, and of course I took a few photos as well.
Quilter’s, note the “Orange Peel” floor tiles!!!
After I had finished, the attendant went in and cleaned and got it ready for the next client……
That night we were met by Michael’s host, Christian, and taken to another Biergarten. Michael and I both opted for a “traditional’ Austrian meal. In my case, I had a slice of ham, a slice of roasted pork and two types of sausages. It was served with a bread dumpling that had a great flavor, but was extremely dense, and with Cabbage that had been boiled in beer. Again, great flavor but an interesting texture.
The next day was our last in Austria and Christian had asked me to meet he and Michael at the University at 3:00, so I knew that I needed to stay close to the hotel. So, I decided to visit the Belvedere Palaces and Museum which were only a few blocks away.
I started out in the Lower Palace which wasn’t much to see, however, it housed an amazing collection of Religious Iconic art…..but no photos allowed. There was a large Ball Room with paintings along one wall and large sofas along the other so that you could sit and enjoy the view.
Many were extremely old and were painted on various woods with most being on Fir. It was interesting to look at these paintings up close as you could see that there was a design etched into the wood as well, so many of the background details were actually etched rather than painted.
There was a series of paintings of the Virgin Mary but these not only depicted her connection to Jesus, but also her birth and death and various times in her life.
Many of the pieces had been removed from larger Altar pieces that would have been made up of 10+ such paintings. I was fascinated to learn that the altar pieces normally had a Sunday side and an Everyday side. The Everyday sides were the ones on the outside of the altar and were obviously more worn. The Sunday sides, which were inside the altarpiece and only opened on Sundays, were more elaborate in design and were in much better condition.
I moved into a room full of statuary and noticed one likeness that had teeth carved in it. It was very unusual as most only had closed mouths. Since I was in “teeth” mode, I found a pottery statue that had teeth but you had to look under the lips to see them.
I returned to the LONG courtyard between the Upper and Lower Palace and made the walk to the larger of the palaces……
…..stopping to chat with a few friends along the way……
This palace held a HUGE art gallery and I spent two hours wandering thru it’s rooms.
There was one gallery that included only self portraits, both realistic and surreal, many dressed in various costumes, including a clown.
There was one exhibition called “Light and Shadow” that contained only works by Kurzweill Max, an Austrian painter who died in 1916. It was well titled as he was amazing at bringing light into his paintings.
One was called “The Dryad’s Death” and was a very dark painting that made you think of the deepest part of the forest. There was a light in the horizon but when I first looked, I couldn’t see anything more. Needless to say, I wasn’t that impressed with it!! Then, as I continued to look, I could see the Dryad coming out of the tree. I walked away really liking the painting!!!
As I wandered thru the galleries, there were a few other pieces that stood out to me.
It is a very large piece and contained SO much detail. You could almost hear the music while you stood there.
In one gallery there was a painting surrounded by restoring equipment. It was fun to look at the jars of paint, brushes, rags and even a vacuum cleaner. There were several jars of gold gilt which made me think that they might have been restoring the frame rather than the actual painting. I wish that they had been working so I could have watched!!
One room contained a series of statues called “The Character Heads” by Franz Xavier Messerschmidt. The interesting thing about these sculptures were the expressions on the faces, and the names assigned to the expressions. This was one of my favorites……
Try googling these and enjoy!!!!
There was also an intriguing painting called “Seashore in the Mist” by Caspar David Friederich. It is another one that you have to really look at to see all of the story……
Finally, I found my next quilt in a tile piece in women’s bathroom!!! It is a simple pattern…..
….and when I saw it I started thinking about doing discharge dying of some black and brown fabrics that I have and then maybe adding some gold or bronze paint to them as well. We will see what comes of it!!!!
In the evening we were taken to Christian’s home and spent several hours enjoying time with his wife and twin sons. Then it was back to the hotel to get packed up to start our return journey!!!!