Vienna? That's where Sisi is from!

15. May 2017

Not quite, and her name was actually Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie. Originally, she was a princess from Bavaria who only later became the Empress of Austria and Apostolic Queen of Hungary. You are probably wondering why I'm troubling you with such historical facts: some history buffs will perhaps shrug their shoulders and say: "everyone knows that", whereas others who are not so versed in history will perhaps ask, why give us this brief historical rundown if you can presumably find it online just like that.

So, I'll just get to the point. Empress Sisi is certainly an interesting part of Austrian, particularly Viennese, history and the city's identity, but still only a part of it. There's lots more to discover. For example: did you know that Vienna was founded in the first century AD as a Roman garrison called Vindobona tasked with protecting and guarding the border of the Roman Empire? It wasn't until several centuries later that this army camp evolved into a large city and, even today, archaeologists continue to find vestiges of Vienna's antique past at various construction projects.

The city's long transformation from a garrison in antiquity to today's vibrant metropolis is marked also by other noteworthy events and personalities. Empress Maria Theresia, for instance, who had as many titles as young Empress Sisi was given only a few centuries later. The achievements during her nearly forty-year regency are legion. Owing to major reforms in the organisation of the state, Vienna underwent a number of changes. The Vienna Stock Exchange, the Burgtheater, which is Austria's national theatre, and the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory are part of this heritage. The numbering of houses on streets, which we take for granted nowadays, dates back to this period.

Hence, she continues to watch over Austria and Vienna as a statue at the Maria Theresia Monument. This monument, incidentally, is located on Maria-Theresien-Platz, a square on the ring boulevard known as Ringstraße, and flanked by Vienna's Natural History Museum and Museum of Art History.

"When people criticise me, I know how to defend myself. But I’m powerless in the face of praise!" We owe this quote to the founder of psychoanalysis and one of the 20th century's most influential thinkers: Sigmund Freud. The Sigmund Freud Museum, located at Berggasse 19 in Vienna's 9th district, gives everyone interested and seeking to know more a vivid all-round impression of the 47 years of Freud's life and career in Vienna. Sigmund Freud University on Messestraße in Vienna's 2nd district continues to lure young people into the clutches of its knowledge-building halls.

As you take a breather from this history-heavy flow of information, let me give you two small recommendations that will really make your trip to Vienna worthwhile:

You thought Vienna is the place to have a good schnitzel? Naturally, you're right about that, but trying out a Vienna Burger will certainly be a rewarding experience, too. At Weinschenke, a charming small wine tavern at Franzensgasse 11 in Vienna's 5th district you will be served what is presumably the best burger in Central Europe and if you're thinking that I'm laying it on too thick, then there's really no choice left but to try it out...

Another jewel for anyone looking to enjoy one or several glasses of wine in a relaxed atmosphere: Weinorgel. A cellar value in Gothic style where a small, but fine organ with carved, moving wooden figures makes for an inspiring ambiance. But, once again, let me make sure you understand the historical significance by just mentioning that the story of this building on Bäckerstraße 2 can be traced back all the way to 1280 and that, at the time, it belonged to a ducal bailiff and master of the mint - this background wisdom may just come in handy should you ever wish to boast about that back-slapping round in the cellar vault…

So much for my report: for that historical link to the young Empress of Austria mentioned at the beginning you should also pay a visit to St. Augustin's in Vienna's first district. This church is defined not only by its imposing Gothic architecture and a history that goes back a long way, but also, and particularly so, by its direct association with the aristocratic and imperial House of Habsburg. St. Augustin's was founded by a Habsburg duke in 1327 and consecrated in 1349, serving as the imperial court's parish church from 1634. Last but not least, this was where Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, with Emperor Francis Joseph on her side, became Empress Elisabeth on 24 April 1854.

As every story has to end, I would like to thank you for having accompanied me on this learned tour through Vienna and wish you a pleasant and exciting stay in Vienna.

And what I nearly forgot to add: if you're looking for the ideal starting point for your discovery tour through Vienna, either to do some sightseeing, shopping or to explore Vienna's night life, then Falkensteiner Hotel Wien Margareten in Vienna's 5th district and Falkensteiner Hotel Am Schottenfeld in Vienna's 7th district are the best places to stay. As both are centrally located and have perfect public transport links, you can start your tour either on foot or by taking public transportation. Moreover, both hotels serve up a sumptuous and absolutely delicious breakfast that some even consider to be Vienna's best. But let's keep that a secret between us... ;)

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