Regardless of the nature, either work or leisure, it’s always important to keep pushing the envelope. The Indian Footsteps this time took a giant stride and crossed the seas and oceans, pushed the envelope and overcome the boundaries of nations and continents. The urge to explore bought us to the west world.
The Indian Footsteps landed in Europe and realized that it’s not Europe but EUROPE.
The excitement was uncontrollable and the grass appeared greener.
It was love at first sight with Europe and the date was set.
There could not have been a better place for our first date than the city that shaped the current cultural landscape of this continent. The city that has been closely associated with the modern transformation of Europe for the last few centuries.
Yes, it was Vienna, the largest city and capital of Austria.
The city that has been a witness to the greatest minds of humanity that walked across the streets, sat in the restaurants and shaped the future of not only this place but the entire world.
From Einstein to Beethoven to Sigmund Freud, Vienna has been a dwelling place for the geniuses of mankind.
The city is regarded as the “city of music”, “the city of dreams” and what not. The list of historical events that the city witnessed kept on increasing and so was our happiness of being present there.
But there was another not so sweet Side of the history of attacks during world war which set fire to one of the most important structures of the city.
St. Stephens cathedral
This structure is an iconic symbol, deeply associated with the state of affairs in Vienna for centuries. The place where Greats like Mozart got married, the place which testified the evidence of Beethoven’s deafness (as per one of the legends). This church is part of legends and fables that we were reading and experiencing by standing in it.
Apart from this, the church has been the watchtower of the city for more than 700 years providing a breathtaking view of the city from the top.
Though the entry was not allowed there and some other parts of the church as well, every word in the praise of this was justified by whatever we could see. The Prominent feature of the structure are two towers which reach the sky, scrapping like ostentatious spires.
The Gothic design and the artistry on the exterior was staggering and distinctive. The never seen before beauty and the never heard before stories, made us reconsider if books are the correct way to learn about history.
The interior was as rich as the exterior with sky touching roofs, chequered floor, chandeliers and eye catching paintings and statues. The divinity was enchanting in the air and since we reached in morning, it was less crowded and peaceful.
From one iconic structure to the other, we headed towards the famous Hofburg palace.
The Hofburg Palace
The mighty Hofburg palace is a treasury of building complexes which cover the art of numerous styles dating back from 13th to the 19th century.
Royalty resides in these complexes quite literally, it was residence as well as court to the Hofsburg dynasty and later served as the residence of Austro-Hungarian monarchs. There was sound of royal music of trumpet that just kept playing in the mind as we walked across these artistic complexes. After all, one doesn’t get a chance to walk among the royalty every day and that too a powerful empire such as this.
The most striking feature of this place is that it does not have consistent style of architecture, which also translates to its long journey of reaching the final mould.
Any person with an eye for the art and heart for history cannot resist the statues and structures built all across this magnificent structure. It’s hard to interpret the significance of these structures but they do leave a deep mark on the mind.
The Hofburg residence possesses many beautiful architectural elements and numerous precious works of art.
The complex also includes what can surely be considered the most beautiful library in the world, The Austrian national library. This library is not just about it’s intricated structure but also the knowledge housed in it. It is said that the library expanded so quickly that the original architecture had to be changed parallel to its construction.
The whole complex is residing place to the imperial culture of Austria that still holds the memories of past.
As the sight seeing continued, we came across a lot of buildings and structures of great historical importance. One such building was the Austrian parliament. The building is a huge structure built in Greek style of architecture with massive columns carrying the weight of it. There is statue of “Pallas Athena” right in front of it which signifies righteous consciousness from within.
Apart from that there are a lot of statues of thinkers and philosophers probably signifying the importance of rationality in decision making. The best part is when you come across any structure so different, it leads to opening the doors of imagination and interpretation. It’s like solving a puzzle based on what you know, which is truly a mind boggling experience.
Maria Theresa Square
The other iconic site in the city is the Maria Theresa square, which is built as an ode to Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of Hofburg dynasty. The statue is majestic and beautifully describes her stature with her sitting on top of her throne, guiding the ministers and consulates.
With enough from the aisles of history, we went to the streets of Vienna but the culture and art is so deeply embedded into this city, that on the way we stumbled upon many museums and art galleries.
And guess what, we stumbled upon the statue of the man who was responsible for starting the first printing press in Europe, Johannes Gutenberg. If that doesn’t excite the writer within one, then nothing can. There was nothing except admiration and fascination on looking at the statue of the person who started it all.
Not every structure is a symbol of greatness and harmony, some provide reminiscence of the darkest hours. One such structure is Vienna Plague Column which was built after a plague epidemic in the late 17th century. The 21 meter high baroque pillar is one of the most famous and striking sculptural works of art in the city.
This made us realize that both good and bad times are part and parcel of life. The words “Deo Filio Redemptori” inscribed which translate to “To God the Son the Redeemer” signifies the prayer to the almighty to guide humanity in the toughest times.
And then the most beautiful, eye-catching, simple, yet absolutely artistic structure came into our site, Hundertwasser house.
This building is designed by the Austrian artist hundertwasser, who probably was in love with colours. The building has many facades, each painted with different bright colours and lots of shrubs around. It’s like an oasis in the middle of this city. Entry inside is not allowed. But the exterior is enough lighten up your eyes.
From the colourful hundertwasser house to a relaxed boat ride across the city, gazing through the streets of Vienna, the charm of Europe just kept on increasing. It was quite cold but the special Viennese coffee saved the day.
There are beautiful graffiti on the walls in few sections of the city, its more like a current culture that is distinguished from the history, yet compliments the past of the city.
Came as visitor, traveled like a tourist, What you gave me Vienna , I can never get through it.
Places are not just spaces occupied, they are the soul and representation of people residing in them. They are the very emotions and can abstracted as the personification of the inhabitants. For a traveler,this is similar to what a painting is for a painter or a poem for a poet. Before one realize, one falls in love with the place around.
That’s how our first date ended, with a big smile on the face and big hope in the heart, amazed by this first hand experience.
And the Indian Footsteps continued this lovely journey with Europe.