Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sweaters for Scaffolding

Vienna.  For a second it seemed we had been transported to colorful Mexico as we walked under this brightly knitted-over scaffolding.  Spotted outside a yarn shop on Maria Hilferstrasse.  Fiesta time!

Monday, July 30, 2012

E. Braun & Co.

Vienna.  With its marble entrance, curved glass windows, crystal chandeliers, intricately cast brass fittings and oak paneling, the old E. Braun & Co. building, now an H&M store, is an architectural wonderland.  I've not found any record of the architect for this grand building.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mystery of the Lady: Solved

Vienna.  On a recent post, Stone Lace, I failed to identify a statue on Stephansdom and received a request from loyal follower, Taken For Granted, to provide the story behind the lady.  According to one of the cathedral's guides, it's a statue of Catherine of Luxembourg who married Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria in 1357.  Rudolf expanded the cathedral and the statue of his wife depicts her holding a mace and standing on a "dragon."  Here's another view of her.

Bright Bulbs and Blooms

Vienna.  Brightly colored lights and flowers adorn a sidewalk cafe in the First District.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quiet Moment in the Neue Burg

Vienna.  For centuries, the Hofburg Palace hallways in downtown Vienna have echoed with the voices and footsteps of powerful persons. While often teeming with staff and visitors, I happened to catch a quiet moment in one of the back hallways of the Neue Burg, the newer part of the palace, built in the late 1800s.  This palace is home to several museums and is the President of Austria's official residence.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

St. Basil's Towers Revisited

Moscow.  A reader, Ernst, left a comment today on my post, "The Corridors of St. Basil's" saying he was interested in seeing more photos of the tower interiors of St. Basil's Cathedral and has not been able to find images elsewhere.  While reviewing other photos I took in 2010, I thought some of the following might be useful.  My recollection is that many of the tower interiors were rather plain but the corridors between them—and those walls, floors and ceilings—were fabulous...so I'm including some additional images of those as well.  If you'd like to see more of this amazing building's interior, there's another post on this site, "Inside St. Basil's Towers."

As I recall, this ceiling was near the main entrance.

Another side of the entrance wall and ceiling.

I'm not sure which ceiling or tower this is but it was also near the main entrance.

There was quite a bit of restoration work going on in 2010 and I particularly liked the colors and textures of this floor as it was being restored.

This was one of the larger towers and is possibly the central, largest one.  I apologize for not remembering exactly.

This old-fashioned wall decor is beautifully aged.

This drawing shows the layout of the towers.

Interesting wall, yes?

Some of the towers were encased in exterior walkways.

Another wall decoration sampler.

This is what the restorers have to work with—faint patterns and barely visible colors.

Another of those skinny passages, this one closed to visitors.

Another "before" area.

A beautiful and inspiring wall that I think was near the exit.

Would love to have the architecture to paint such a wall and ceiling.  What fun! 

Designs cover the spectrum in St. Basil's from simple to fanciful...

...and flowing to geometric.

This room was closed to visitors when we were there and it may have been the largest church.  Note the difference between the elaborate wall and the unadorned tower.

More scaffolding for more work.

Such workmanship!

Beautiful colors.

Another rather simple tower interior.  Hope these help in your study of this amazing place, Ernst.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ride Around the Ring

Vienna used to have two tram routes that went around the beautiful, circular Ringstrasse in opposite directions.  I used to take our guests on those trams as an introduction to Vienna, showing them the many points of interest along the way.  In 2008, the city changed the routes for the Euro Cup soccer championship games and never changed them back.  Now if you want to ride around the Ring the city offers a tourist tram, a classic Vienna streetcar painted yellow.  The charge to ride the tram is seven Euros and you'll hear a commentary through an earbud.

There's so much to see on this one route—the Opera, Goethe's statue, the Academy of Fine Arts that refused admission to Hitler, Mozart's Statue, the Burggarten, the Hofburg Palace—the center of power for the Austro-Hungarian Empire,  Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum with the Empress Maria Teresa's statue between them, Volksgarten and its rose gardens, the Parliament and the Rathaus, the Burgtheater, Cafe Landtmann where Freud used to hang out, the University of Vienna, the Votive Kirche, the old Borse, (stock exchange), the former military barracks that looks like a castle, the Danube Canal, the site of the former Gestapo headquarters (now a monument against fascism), Rupertskirche, thought to be Vienna's oldest church, the former OPEC headquarters site, Schwedenplatz and the ice cream parlors there, the Urania observatory, a building that appears to have something to do with the military, the Otto Wagner Post Office, Cafe Pruckel—one of the grand coffee houses, Coburg Palace, Stadtpark with its golden statue of Johann Strauss, the Kursalon where Strauss played his waltzes, Schwarzenbergerplatz and another grand coffee house Cafe Schwarzenberg, Hotel Imperial,  the Grand Hotel, the Bristol Hotel and many other grand buildings.

I miss riding the previous tram route around the Ring so much.  If anyone from Wiener Linien should see this post, I hope you'll please consider restoring the Ring-Kai-Ring route.  Bitte.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Surprising Rabenhof Public Housing

Vienna is a fairly compact city and with about 80% of its residents renting, the city is filled with apartments.  All over Vienna you'll find public housing projects.  I finally went exploring in one called Rabenhof, close to where the photos in my last post were taken, and, once inside the perimeter, was astounded to see how nice it is.  Inside architects Heinrich Schmidt and Hermann Aichinger designed very comfortable spaces, stylish art deco architecture, parks,  gardens, playgrounds, seating areas, laundry areas, a cool theater, and a kindergarten.

According to the very interesting paper, 80 Years of Social Housing in Vienna,” by Wolfgang Förster. Vienna experienced a huge population boom at the end of the nineteenth century when the city grew from 400,000 residents to more than two million.  Förster reports the Habsburg Empire offered most of Vienna’s residents “incomprehensible poverty” that wasn’t transformed until the collapse of the monarchy and the start of the Red Vienna movement which built thousands of public housing units, “for the weakest strata of the population in spite of very severe economic conditions, and thereby developed radically new urban qualities.”  It seems those urban qualities may have a direct correlation to Vienna’s current status as one of the best places to live on the planet.