"St. Stephen's Cathedral (more commonly known by its German title: Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, OP. The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral, seen today in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Vienna, St. Stephen's Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city's most recognizable symbols."
Quoted from Wikipedia, -> St. Stephen's Cathedral:
Once Upon A Time
In The Wild West
A first for me:
A Fiaker passing another
fiaker at breakneck speed! The large Christmas tree in the background
stands at the entrance of Café Central
in Palais Ferstel
St. Michael's Square
seen from where Herrengasse
empties into this large circular square.
St. Michael's Church to the left,
the Imperial Winter Palace emerging to the right -
the Hofburg or "Burg" to the Einheimische -
while the verdigris dome over St. Michael's Gate
is still hidden from view.
I'd like to point out that to the right
Cafe Griensteidl in Palais Herberstein
offers you yet another opportunity
to savour a cup of coffee,
to rest up for the last few hundred feet
you will have to conquer
before finally reaching Demel at Kohlmarkt
to your left, just beyond the Loos-Haus. There would be other coffee places, almost within sight,
but we do want to continue our walk
at some point, don't we?
I shall keep myself from gossiping
about the Herbersteins and the Loos-Haus scandals,
but will point out that, if you continue
straight ahead, the Lipizzan Stallions
are waiting for you in the Imperial Stables.
Little Shopping Opportunity
is to your left,
the Royal and Imperial Confectioners.
All other shops
are closed by now. Viennese shopkeepers
are subject to large fines
if they keep open beyond the
official store hours.
You bet! Not.
hot mulled wine!
a dozen Champagne glasses -
you do the math!
One Friendly Gentleman,
two Bratwürstl, 994 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.
Take one down and pass it around,
98 bottles of beer on the wall -
by now it is 4pm on
New Year's Eve, after all!
What Would The French Do?
Drinking Champagne in the street,
eating Hot Dogs hidden in woolly socks?
Or would they rather nibble daintily
on a single tiny macaroon with a diameter
of exactly 1 1/4" across!!!? *
Ah, the French!
By now we are at Graben -
no one knows if this is
a wide street or a long narrow square -
and listening to Italian songs
from the Seventies:
The Italians, ever the far-sighted folks,
after Napoleon won the Battle of Solferino,
humiliated the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph
into signing a document that henceforth -
from 1859 onward -
the place known in Vienna as "Graben"
shall be made Italian territory
during the period from Christmas Day on
until La Befana descends,
welcoming any italian citizen
who desires to take up residence there.
Italians ever since, when Christmas Day rolls around,
enthusiastically cross the border
and head north. **
Il Danubio Blu
By now, most everybody
is dancing: Alles Walzer!
Dance lessons are being offered
at various points along the streets,
the Viennese Dancing Authority
wants everybody to whirl along to the
"Blue Danube" waltz at midnight,
anche gli Italiani!
Faster and faster,
I am getting dizzy here!
dances along too!
I have reached
the end of Graben,
this gentleman is heading
Any guesses as to
the chair on his back?
The Last Christmas Chandelier
where Graben meets
St. Stephen's Square
I make my way
leaving the cathedral square
to the revelers and TV and radio stations,
who will party on until way past midnight,
into the New Year
all is calm, light falls from
the windows of the quaint
little coffeehouse, the "Kleines Café".
I begin to walk a little faster,
I have promises to keep,
friends waiting down the lane,
worried about me being "out there"
on an evening where proper Viennese
stay in, preferring the comfort of their home.
Or so I am told.
* Click on the link
**) Se non è vero, è ben trovato! ;-)
-> Franz Schubert and Schloss Ochsenburg @ "Franz Peter Schubert":
"Many Schubertiades were organised, they frequented cafes and gardens outside Vienna, or made longer excursions into the country. It was a happy time for Schubert. One of these latter was to the Schloss Ochsenburg, and here Schubert passed the autumn months of the year 1821"
(Quoted from the "Franz Peter Schubert" homepage, linked above)
Christmas Tree at Dusk
Always a joy to behold,
the Christmas tree in the square
in front of St. Stephen's Cathedral
Even though there are days when it looks as if the whole world
wants to visit the cathedral all at once, it is still possible to
find a bench for quiet contemplation because the center nave
is reserved for worshippers during mass and for prayer.
If you plan to attend one of the special Christmastime concerts,
make sure to get a reservation ahead of time.
Celebrating Christmas Eve midnight mass
in the cathedral is a special treat, but requires stamina:
arrive an hour early or it's standing room only, at best!
Peal of the Pummerin
Listening to the deep prolonged sound of the great Pummerin bell
from high in the north tower of the cathedral
is something not to be missed either.
You'll hear her ring out over the city on only a few occasions,
two of them are midnight of Christmas Eve and of New Year's Eve
How to buy a Christmas tree in Vienna
* Wait for the 15th of December when the Christmas tree lots open
* Stop at "your" farmer's lot on your way home from work - rest assured, there is one between your tram stop and your home!
* A warm hello to the "Lord of the Trees" and a gentle reminder that none
of the trees on the lot are to your liking
* Describe in glowing detail that gorgeous tree you bought from him
* Allow your farmer an offer to go visit his Christmas tree woods
right that same evening and cut that one tree he knows will please you!
* Make arrangements for the tree to be delivered and set up
in your living room the next evening.
* Start decorating the tree.
Ah, Vienna! Piling your kids in the car and driving to the Christmas tree lot
and then wrestling that monster onto the roof of the car and driving home
and the whole mess of setting the tree up - all but a distant memory!
Are you ready for coffee?
Tea or chocolate?
Off to the Kaffeehaus!