Want to feel like a king and walk the streets almost intact for a century and a half? Then visit Vienna, the city of mighty Habsburgs, where fairy tales are still alive on every corner.
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Vienna is the capital city of Austria, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. The city was inhabited since 500 BC but in 1804 it became the capital of the Austrian Empire, a power that shaped the European politics but also its culture and art. Vienna is a modern city but with excellently preserved ways of the past, the spirit of loved Empress Elisabeth better known as Sisi, famous Spanish Riding School, and timeless music that impress every new generation as it has impressed their grand-grandfathers.
In Vienna everything is art: from magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, Empress Sisi's summer residence and one of Europe's most impressive Baroque palace complexes, to delicious chocolate cakes, to the life itself that shows the imperial touch every step of the way. Your start should be Ringstrasse. Opened by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1865, it is dubbed as the most beautiful boulevard in the world, with huge parks, and numerous monuments around it: the Vienna State Opera, the Burgtheater, the Kunsthistorisches Museum...
So, when saw enough (if that's possible) of 800 buildings along the boulevard, you may take the train, opened back in 1868, or just take a walk in the footsteps of the Habsburgs. Your starting point should be St. Stephan's Cathedral in the heart of the old city with the oldest building built back in the 12th century. Then take a walk along Kärntner Straße and Marco-d'Aviano-Gasse to Neuer Markt where, in the Imperial Burial Vault in the Capuchin Church, are the tombs of the 149 members of the dynasty.
A slow and easy walk along Plankengasse and Dorotheergasse will get you to the Church of the Augustinian Friars where Franz Joseph and Sisi were married in 1854. That's also the place of Heart Crypt where 54 hearts of members of the imperial family were buried. After all those burials it's time for some greenery, so cross the Albertinaplaz and the palace garden, and take a look at the Vienna Imperial Palace. Just a few steps further you will find the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments and the Imperial Silver Collection.
Directly across is the entrance to the Spanish Riding School with famous Lipizzaners, where words "dance" and "horse" mix together into a stunning performance. A stone's throw away from the Michaelertor begins Vienna's best shopping street, the Kohlmarkt, where you shouldn't be surprised if you see the ownner's pet in the store because Vienna is very pet-tolerant city. Here is also Demel, a former imperial court bakery, so you will be treated like a king. And, my ladies, don't think about calories, even Sisi couldn't resist the Demel's ice cream.
When at pleasing our tastes we must mention Vienna as the coffee capital of the world because it has invented cafés where people come to taste variety of coffee drinks, read newspapers and talk to friends and strangers about variety of things. Cafés are not "go, drink, out!" those are places where you suppose to enjoy the noble coffee smell as long as you like, places that are, when you try it, way better than any spa or pool. Heck, the traditional Viennese coffee house culture is intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO!
If you are into cuisine you should know that Viennese Cuisine is the only cuisine in the world named after a city. When the weather is good, from March 1 and November 15, there are some 1,800 sidewalk cafés with flower pots all around, making them literally the definition of "take a break and enjoy in peace" philosophy. Wanna see an "in" place? In the heart of Spittelberg there is Kussmaul, a combination of the restaurant, cafe-patisserie and bar with very creative cuisine. Totally tasty, totally in.
Vienna is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2015 with numerous events and exhibitions. You might be surprised but we call Vienna world capital of electronic music! Yes, the city of timeless classic pieces is the place where youth are coming to enjoy in Flex at the Danube Canal, maybe the best dancing club in the world. Places to visit: the cafe Europa in the seventh district, Schikaneder - a program cinema with a bar, and for a nice Saturday meal there is Naschmarkt Deli with easy music after noon. ■