Austria is a country which, during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, was the center of Western Civilization. Its low point was the defeat of Nazi Germany, of which Austria was a part, at the end of World War II. However, its participation in much of European history has provided fruit for a rich heritage, reflected in its incredible sights. Besides the political history, Austria has been a center for the development of the Arts, especially, Music, with the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss II. Below is my list of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of this lovely country. Check out the photo album which should follow tomorrow.
1. Hofburg, Vienna. This huge, elegant and extravagant complex was the home of the Austrian monarchs since 1279 AD and has witnessed the highs and lows of the country. It is sometimes referred to as the Winter Palace, with Schonnbrunn (see #2 below), on the outskirts of Vienna, the Summer Palace.
2. Schonbrunn, Vienna. As mentioned above, this palatial mansion is the Summer Palace of the Austrian monarchs. Construction began in 1696 although the expansion of the complex continued over many years. There are extensive gardens and sculptures on the grounds, topped by the Gloriette, a structure erected to commemorate "just" wars.
3. Melk Abbey, Melk. With its glorious setting on a promontory above the Danube, this Baroque masterpiece is a functioning Benedictine monastery. Highlights of a visit to this World Heritage Site are the ornate Abbey church and the Library which contains numerous Medieval manuscripts.
4. Stephansdom, Vienna. This impressive church dates to the middle of the 12th Century, with considerable additions, modifications, and restorations, and has become a symbol of the city of Vienna. The crowning feature of the church is its colorful roof, made from 230,000 glazed-tiles.
5. Fortress Hohensalzburg, Salzburg. This striking white castle, located on the top of a hill in Old Salzburg, is one of the largest Medieval castles in Europe and also one of the best preserved. There is a funicular that visitors can use to get to the castle because the climb is very steep.
6. Schlossberg, Graz. The city of Graz, for hundreds of years a center of education with its universities, was named the "Cultural Capital of Europe" in 2003. Its well-preserved Old Town is topped by the Schlossberg, a hill in the city center with the ruins of a Medieval castle. Although most of the castle is gone, the most distinctive remnant is the Clock Tower which has become the symbol of the city.
7. Belvedere Palace, Vienna. This beautiful, elegant, Baroque mansion is located just outside the city center and has been transformed into a museum of Austrian history and art. The grounds are beautiful and pleasant to walk.
Other sites considered:
Maria Theresian Strasse, Innsbruck
Musikverein (Golden Hall), Vienna
Mirabell Palace & Gardens, Salzburg