... Holy Roman Empire.
Situated in the centre of Europe, Vienna has been an enchanting prize desired by many since Roman times. Its streets have seen many illustrious people, such as Charlemange, Richard the Lionheart, Suleiman the Magnificent, Charles V, Napolean Bonaparte, and, of course, all of the royalty of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Under the Habsburg Franz Josef I, Vienna reached a population of 2 million in 1916, making it the third largest city in Europe, behind Paris and London.
Nowadays Vienna is a city with one of the highest standards of living in the world, a first-rate tourist destination, especially for classical music lovers, who can spend time with Mozart, the famous musical genius, who lived and died in Vienna at the age of 35. An unrivalled experience for the ears is attending a concert by the Hofmusikkapelle and the Vienna Boys' Choir, in the Vienna State Opera or during the Salzburg Festival.
Other essential tourist destinations in Vienna are the Schoenbrunn Palace, the former royal summer residence; the Sisi Museum, dedicated to the legendary empress Elisabeth of Wittelsbach, married to the emperor of Austria and assassinated in Geneva on 10th September 1898 by the anarchist Luigi Lucheni; the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the official Habsburg residence for more than seven centuries; the Big Wheel, a symbol of Vienna immortalised in the film The 3rd Man, directed by Carol Reed and starring the unforgettable Orson Welles; St Steven's Cathedral, Stephansdom, situated in the exact centre of the city with its impressive Steff, its 137 metre high south tower.
The traditional Viennese cafés, many of which have been serving desserts and sweets for more than two hundred years, have shop windows that look so enticing that they make you like your lips just by looking. Places such as the famous Demel, in the Kohlmarkt, a cake shop that supplied the Habsburg court and delighted the Empress Sisi with its glazed violets. Also not forgetting the Sacher, located in the hotel of the same name, a classic Viennese institution which conquered the world with its unbeatable Sacher cake, thanks to a secret recipe from 1832.
From Vienna many interesting places to visit are within easy reach, such as Salzburg, or the Forests of Vienna, where we were able to admire beautiful landscapes composed of rivers, mountains and lakes, and visit the Mayerling convent, the historic place where Rodolfo I, heir to the Habsburg throne, and his lover committed suicide.
On the trip on the Danube to Melk we saw picturesque castles on the river banks, and it ended with a visit to Melk Abbey, where Napoleon lived and Umberto Eco was inspired to write his best-seller "The Name of the Rose", perhaps because library, one of the grandest in Austria, containing 85000 volumes and 1200 manuscripts from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Its church, inspired by the Gesu Church in Rome, is the most outstanding piece of Austrian Baroque with a multitude of golden adornments that look like the boxes of a fantastic theatre.
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PALACIO DE SCHONBRUNN