Trip 39 Day 7

August 30, 2022

Another beautiful weather day today with blue skies and temperatures about 72°, though it did get up to 82° later in the day.

We decided we would visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral today, which is just a 10 minute walk down Kartner Straße. The cathedral towers over everything around it and is visible from miles away (you can see the spires from Schönbrunn Palace and the Vienna woods.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

As is the case with every building of this age, it’s always under a state of restoration. Although you cannot see it here, both of the sides have scaffolding. Since the structure is made of sandstone, it’s easily discolored by pollution and the effects of acid released into the air from the pollutants. This means there’s a permanent staff of masons replacing and recreating the statues and stonework.

Rather than try to describe the history of the Cathedral, you can listen to a podcast that takes you through a tour and the story of a remarkable part of Vienna’s history. Where the podcast talks about taking the stairs up to the roof and seeing the gigantic church bell is something we did many years ago, with younger knees. As has been the case in countless churches, they become engulfed in the wars that take place. St Stephen’s has suffered and survived through nearly 1,000 years of fires and wars, with severe damage from WWII.

Destruction from Allied bombing in WWII

One of the striking features of the exterior are the colored tiles of the roof .

Colored tiled roof

Around the corner to the left as you exit the main entrance is a line of horse drawn carriages waiting for customers.

From St. Stephens, we walked to the Albertina Museum. The Albertina is actually part of the Hofburg complex, with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. We wanted to see the “Monet to Picasso” exhibition.

Steps to the main entrance

Before going up though, there is a monument in the square outside to war and the toll on the populace, which saw the death of over 200,000 Viennese Jews in Nazi concentration camps during WWII.

Sculpture of a Jewish man removing Nazi graffiti

We went through quite a few rooms exhibiting the art collection of the donor Herbert Batliner, a prominent collector including works from Impressionism and Post-Impressionism artists such as Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gauguin, Chagall, Picasso. It’s quite an impressive collection.

After leaving the Albertina , we walked across the street to see if we could get in the Hotel Sacher for a piece of their famous Sacher tortes, a marvelous dense chocolate cake with a rich chocolate frosting. We walked by yesterday, but the line was way too long. By the time we left the Albertina, it was very short.

Sacher Torte

The cafe is definitely unhurried. We weren’t in any rush to leave when we finished our desert, but we probably waited 20 minutes to get “die rechnung” (the bill) and some more time to pay.

It’s after 6pm, so we’re going to walk back out to the Kartner Staße on the way back to the hotel, stopping at Henry to pick up something for dinner. The stores along the Kartner Staße are still open and the pedestrians fill the street and cafés.

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