Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vienna - Rathaus

Date of visit: 12th April 2014

Vienna is the capital and the largest city of Austria, being 1 of the 9 states of country. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of more than 2.5 million @ roughly 20% of Austria's population. It is a city of where Austria’s cultural, economic, and political centres are located. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union.

A unique city tram in front of Volksgarten

One of the last and most exciting places that we visited is the 142 year old building Rathaus before heading back to the hotel to get our luggage to the train station. Duly planned, we will visit another city in Austria, famously called as City of Mozart thereafter. Due to our tired feet, we almost decided to skip Rathaus but seeing a standout Rathaus from Hofburg Imperial Palace, we forced our energy to move on. It was, I must tell you, a right decision for us all.

The Rathaus (now a Town Hall) is a building in Vienna which serves as the seat both of the mayor and city council of the city of Vienna. The town hall also serves, in personal union, as Governor and Assembly of the State of Vienna, a state with the Austrian federal system. Please take note that the House of parliament seated on the same row with Rathaus.

The Rathaus was designed by Friedrich von Schmidt in the Gothic style, and built between 1872 and 1883. On the top of the tower is the Rathausmann, one of the symbols of Vienna. Facing the Rathaus is a large park, the Rathauspark. The Rathaus also accommodates the historic 'Wiener Rathauskeller' restaurant. The traditional restaurant consists of several baroque halls, offering small traditional Viennese delicacies to grand gala buffets. We did not get a chance to see any of the beautiful internal side of the building. The building is currently under renovation which officially commenced since late 2012 with expected budget of 35 million euro. It was expected to complete by the year 2023.

There was a local festival held at the courtyard of Rathaus at the time of our visit. The whole place was full of crowds, folks musicians, foods bazaar etc. unfortunately we could not get to ask what festival was that. I guessed all ladies were busy taking photos and posing and most importantly admiring (guys of course – I have proof) locals with their national costumes.

Talking about proof, I caught Anne in a below photo when she zoom her camera lenses toward 2 handsome guys. What I did thereafter was a huge surprised to her. I went straight and approach both of them for a photo with my friend. They were delighted to do so (maybe after looking at my pitiful pleading looking face). Suddenly and out of nowhere, the other ladies join in as they can sniff the handsome guys somewhere near their friend even from a far distance. 

By the time we finished with that satisfactory shots, we move on and started to look for direction back to the hotel. It was rather a long walk and by the time we reached the destination, my bad behavior reveals themselves, clearly seen on my sour face. Argh… I am a bad person, easily get angry out of no reason. It’s a sign that I must learn how tolerate with people more and be calm on any situation. I must change and practicing to be a lot more nicer to peoples around me.

Wish me luck!

 Source: mostly Wikipedia

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vienna - Hofburg Imperial palace

Date: 12th April 2014

Group photo in the main courtyard of the palace, snapped by Navistar

When we reached the end of the square, (Stephanplatz) we took a left turn and found a deniably most beautiful small fountain and rich white grandeur buildings that took our breath away. It was a beautiful entrance to the Hofburg Imperial Palace huge compound that we found incidentally. Allah has worked some magic for us that day in finding our way into this beautiful crafted buildings.

Hofburg Palace is a palace that has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It currently serves as the official residence of the President of Austria. It was the Habsburgs' principal winter residence, as the Schonbrunn Palace was their preferred summer residence.

The Hofburg area has been the documented seat of government since 1279 for various empires and republics. The Hofburg has been expanded over the centuries to include various residences (with the Amalienburg), the Imperial Chapel (Hofkapelle or Burgkapelle), the Naturhistorisches Museum and Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Austrian National Library (Hofbibliothek), the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer), the Burgtheater, the Spanish Riding School (Hofreitschule), the Imperial Horse Stables (Stallburg and Hofstallungen), and the Hofburg Congress Center. It is rather a huge complex surround the main palace itself.

The Hofburg faces the Heldenplatz ordered under the reign of Emperor Francis Joseph, as part of what was to become a Kaiserforum that was never completed.

Numerous architects have executed work at the Hofburg as it expanded, notably the Italian architect-engineer Filiberto Luchese (the Leopoldischiner Trakt), Lodovico Burnacini and Martino and Domenico Carlone, the Baroque architects Lukas von Hildebrandt and Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach (the Reichschancelry Wing and the Winter Riding School), Johann Fischer von Erlach (the library), and the architects of the grandiose Neue Burg built between 1881 and 1913.

Statue of Emperor Joseph II at the Joseph Square

The following are list of buildings becoming part of the whole Hofburg Imperial palace complex:-
  1. Swiss Wing
  2. Stallburg
  3. Amalienburg
  4. Leopold Wing
  5. Imperial Chancellory Wing
  6. Imperial Library
  7. Augustinian Wing
  8. Redouten Wing
  9. St. Michael's Wing
  10. The Ceremonial Hall - Montoyer Wing
  11. Heldenplatz
  12. Neue Burg and Montoyer Wing
  13. Joseph Square
  14. Museums of the Hofburg
  15. HOFBURG Vienna - Convention Center
  16. Festsaal - Festival Hall
  17. Zeremoniensaal - Ceremonial Hall
  18. Mamorsaal - Marble Hall
  19. Geheime Ratstube - Privy Council Room
  20. Antekammer - Anterroom
  21. Radetzky- Appartements - Radetzky Apartements
  22. Rittersaal - Knight's Hall
  23. Trabantenstube - Guard Room
  24. Redoutensaele
  25. The contemporary Hofburg

A special function was held in the palace that we guesses from the crowded peoples and traffics at the Joseph Square that day. I'm sharing some of the selected photos that I snapped before we adjourned to  Rathaus city hall which is visible from the palace.

It's a hectic fasting month as we are now towards the last 10 days of the glorious month, hence I'm very slow in writing down our traveling journal due to time constraint. I hope to finish all places of interests in Vienna in the month of July. August is the exam month and for my new team to shift to a new office. Thank you for reading and keep coming back to my page. I really appreciate all of the page views that I monitor daily.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vienna, Stephanplatz - Aida Cafe Vienna since 1913

Date: 12th April 2014

By all mean, I have to write about AIDA café not only because of it’s tasty apple strudel and/or crispy croissants. When I was repeating the café name while on our way looking for it, “AIDA”, "AIDA" (after the gift shop owner recommended to me), it resembles something sound so familiar The cafe name is so beautiful to pronounce as it was the name of my late beautiful sister, Siti Nuraida. It was just too much sweetness in her name. Anyway, Aida's website can be found"HERE".

The cafe in Stephansplatz is their main branch which carries an official address at, Singerstraße 1, 1010 Vienna, seated next to the old church itself, suited the web name of "Aida Cafe Vienna since 1913". It is open from Monday to Saturday from 0700hrs and close at 2200hrs. As for Sundays or Bank public holidays, it open 1 hour late operating from 0800 till 2200. They have another 30 branch more in the city.

The founder of AIDA, Josef Prousek, was born on the 25th of January, 1883 in Drzkov, a small town in northern Bohemia. Bohemia is a historical country in Czech Republic, Central Europe. After finishing his mandatory school he went into training from 1896 to 1899 to become a confectioner. As was customary at that time, he went travelling and passed through Lysa nad Labem, Prague and Brno on his way to Vienna, where he started as a confectioner’s apprentice there. Later, in 1912 he married Rosa Nerad from Bruck an der Leitha and had two children, Hilde and Felix. All his family member now involved in the turn into an international franchising/businesses.

From Aida's website, I found their great 100 years of success in the following chronological order:-
1913: Joseph Prousek opens his first coffee shop
1917: Joseph Prousek opens the first factory in Vienna
1934: 11 outlets are oppenned
1943: AidA started shock freezing the products
1945: The first big B2B order for the American soldiers (ice cream and doughnuts)
1946: Felix Prousek the second generation joins the company and opens more stores with his father.
1950: Felix Prousek is announced CEO
1973: due to demand new outlets and a bigger factory is built
1990: Over 20 outlets are oppened
2003: Michael Prousek is announced CEO
2005: 28 outlets in Vienna have been oppenend
2007: dominik Prousek (4th generation) joining the familiy business
2008: Two franchise outlets in Vienna oppened
2012: Aida opens four franchise outlets in Vienna which makes it a total of 31 stores in Vienna
2013: Aida opens in first international franchise outlets in Zagreb Croatia, Jeddah Saudi Arabia and Krakow Poland.
2014: 2 shops are under construction in Kazakhstan, 1 shop in Shanghai, 3 shops in Saudi Arabia and one shop in Bosnia.

The new generation of Prousek family wishes to expand further Aida franchises into a well planned world wide. How I wish that I have a strategic location in the heart of KL city centre (KLCC perhaps) to grab an opportunity of involving into a franchise deal with them :(

Having a famous Vienna's Apple Struddle

Second order of the famous croissant, best taken with Americano
Now, let us see their products consists of a "Take Away Gifts", Cakes, Slices, Tarts, Strudel and Viennoisette (Nuss-Spitz, Cinnamon Whirl, Wholesome Apple Turnover, Plum turnover, Nut Pastry, Poppy Seed Pastry, Apricot Danish, Raspberry Danish, Golatsche Pastry, Viennese Croissant. The cafe is the largest and most exclusive privately owned confectionery producer and coffee shop brand in Europe. It operates 31 AidA stores in its home market Vienna, where 18,000 cups of coffee sold daily and 115 tons of coffee are served per year. Not to mention that they are the "Winner of the Golden Coffee Bean in 2006".

I would hereby call upon you to at least give their cafe a try as you will definitely would agree with me of their standards and quality.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vienna - Stephanplatz

Date: 12th April 2014

Stephanplatz, a shopping square

Now let us see what is other attraction in Stephansplatz, a square that is named after its most prominent building, St Stephen Cathedral. Before the 20th century, there was a row of houses separated Stephansplatz from Stock-im-Eisen-Platz. After the houses was demolished to allow for other buildings to rise, the name Stephansplatz started to be used for the wider area covering both squares. To the west and south, respectively, run the exclusive shopping streets Graben (literally "ditch") and Karntner StraBe. 

Opposite the Stephansdom is the Haas-Haus, a piece of striking modern architecture by Hans Hollein. Although public opinion was originally skeptical about the combination of the mediaeval cathedral and the glass and steel building, it is now considered an example of how old and new architecture can mix harmoniously. 

Haas-Haus, modern architecture building

The other square, Stock-im-Eisen ("staff in iron") is located at the corner of Karntner Straße and Graben in a niche on the corner of the Palais Equitable. It is a section of tree trunk into which hundreds of nails have been hammered since the Middle Ages, and which is ringed by an iron band closed by a large padlock. The earliest written mention of it dates to 1533 and it is the subject of legends about the Devil.

Harmoniously mix of Old and New architecture combination (the demolished houses turn into modern building). The green roof covering is the Palais Equitable

The U-Bahn station at Stephansplatz is one of the busiest in the city, and is the only junction between the U1 and U3 underground lines. It is also the nearest U-Bahn station to many of the tourist attractions in the city centre. It was from here we get down from the metro to visit the Stephen Cathedral and to reach the square.

Anne wanted to go for window shopping in H&M :)

In 1973, during excavation works for the U-Bahn station, a mediaeval chapel was discovered 12 metres under current ground level. It was built around 1250 as a capella subterranea in the Magdalenenkapelle (the outline of which is shown on the pavement of the Stephansplatz). It is possible that it was originally intended as a chapel for burials, but at least by the 14th century had become a crypt for a mercantile family.

To my west view...

To my south views...

I would personally conclude that the square is now becoming the busiest shopping area mainly dedicated for tourist like us. It was sad that we could not shop in this city, afraid of the heavy burden to carry them with us all the way to Paris, if not, I would have no trouble looking for 'WMF' shop in Munich city. Let us see some of the shops that we admired to go inside.

WMF's cutlery and other kitchen utensils

Local boutique, GIGI (#yellow is so my color)

Last but not least, is the 100 years "AIDA cafe since 1913" which is also located in Stephanplatz that I will separately write especially for my ladies to record our great times there....

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vienna - St Stephen Cathedral

Date: 12th April 2014

Allah has said in "Surah 29 (chapter) verses 20, "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things". Inspired with Allah's word in his last Holy Book of 5, Al-Quran, I have always observant of the house of worship, i.e. churches, temples, mosque whenever I travel abroad. I will step inside into any of House of Allah whenever I visited them. It was really crowded inside and outside of St Stephen's cathedral on that Saturday noon. I somehow managed to snap few photos with my IPhone inside the church though it was forbidden by the cathedral administration for any tourist to bring in their camera. It is an amazing church, I was captured by its beauty and I hope you guys would agree with me from the photos and the history of how the cathedral was built that I shared from the Wikipedia.

St. Stephen's Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna. The cathedral, built in Romanesque and Gothic, seated in the Stephansplatz. The idea and the construction was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV in 13th century. It stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. Being the most important religious building in Austria's capital, St. Stephen's Cathedral has borne witness too many important events in the nation's history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city's most recognizable symbols.

Vienna had become an important centre of German civilization in Eastern Europe by the middle of the 12th century. In 1137, Bishop of Passau Reginmar and Margrave Leopold IV signed the Treaty of Mautern, which referred Vienna as a city for the first time and transferred the St. Peter's Church to the Diocese of Passau. Under the treaty, Margrave Leopold IV also received from the bishop extended stretches of land beyond the city walls, with the notable exception of the territory allocated for the new parish church, which would eventually become St. Stephen's Cathedral. Although previously believed to have been built in an open field outside the city walls, the new parish church was likely built on an ancient cemetery dating back to Ancient Roman times. It was an evident found from excavations carried out for a heating system in year 2000 which revealed graves of 2.5 metres below the surface, said to be dated in the 4th century.

The church was solemnly dedicated in 1147 to Saint Stephen in the presence of Conrad III of Germany, Bishop Otto of Freising, and other German nobles who were about to embark on the Second Crusade. Although the first structure was completed in 1160, major reconstruction and expansion lasted until 1511. Repairs and restoration projects continue till present day. From 1230 to 1245, the initial Romanesque structure was extended westward where both west wall and Romanesque towers still exist. In 1258, a great fire destroyed much of the original building, and it was constructed over the ruins of the old church and consecrated 5 years later.

In 1304, King Albert I ordered a Gothic three-nave choir to be constructed east of the church, wide enough to meet the tips of the old transepts, which was consecrated in 1340, i.e. on the 77th anniversary of the first consecration. The middle nave is largely dedicated to St. Stephen and All Saints, while the north and south nave, are dedicated to St. Mary and the Apostles respectively. In 1359, Rudolf IV laid in the vicinity of the present south tower the cornerstone for a westward Gothic extension of the Albertine choir. This expansion would eventually encapsulate the entirety of the old church, and in 1430, the edifice of the old church was removed from within as work progressed on the new cathedral. The south tower was completed in 1433, and the vaulting of the nave begun in 1446 and was complete in 1474. 

Take note of the roof beautiful pattern, symbol of the cathedral

In 1469, Emperor Frederick III prevailed upon Pope Paul II to grant Vienna its own bishop, to be appointed by the emperor. Despite long-standing resistance by the Bishops of Passau, who did not wish to lose control of the area, the Diocese of Vienna was canonically established on 18 January 1469, with St. Stephen's Cathedral as its mother church. In 1722 during the reign of Karl VI, the see (diocese) was elevated to an archbishopric by Pope Innocent XIII. The politics inside the House of God was what I learned from the story lines in Ken Follet's novel, Pillars of Earth.

During World War II, St. Stephen's Cathedral was saved from intentional destruction at the hands of retreating German forces when Captain Gerhard Klinkicht disregarded orders from the city commandant, Josef Dietrich, to "fire a hundred shells and leave it in just debris and ashes". On 12 April 1945, however, fires from nearby shops started by civilian looters as Russian troops entered the city were carried to the cathedral by wind, severely damaging the roof and causing it to collapse. Fortunately, protective brick shells built around the pulpit, Frederick III's tomb, and other treasures, minimized damage to the most valuable artworks. The beautifully carved 1487 Rollinger choir stalls, however, could not be saved. Rebuilding began immediately, with a limited reopening on 12 December 1948 and a full reopening on 23 April 1952.

Built of limestone, the cathedral is 107 metres long, 40 metres wide, and 136 metres tall at its highest point. Over the centuries, soot and other forms of air pollution accumulating on the church have given it a black colour, but recent restoration projects have again returned some portions of the building to its original white. Standing at 136 metres tall, St. Stephen's Cathedral's massive south tower is its highest point and a dominant feature of the Vienna skyline. Its construction lasted 65 years, from 1368 to 1433. During the Siege of Vienna in 1529 and again during the Battle of Vienna in 1683, it served as the main observation and command post for the defence of the walled city, and it even contains an apartment for the watchmen who, until 1955, manned the tower at night and rang the bells if a fire was spotted in the city.

The main entrance to the church is named the Giant's Door, or Riesentor. The tympanum above the Giant's Door depicts Christ Pantocrator flanked by two winged angels, while on the left and right are the two Roman Towers, or Heidenturme, that each stand at approximately 65 metres tall. The Roman Towers, together with the Giant's Door, are the oldest parts of the church.

The glory of St. Stephen's Cathedral is its ornately patterned, richly coloured roof of 111 metres long, and covered with 230,000 glazed tiles. Above the choir on the south side of the building the tiles form a mosaic of the double-headed eagle that is symbolic of the empire ruled from Vienna by the Habsburg dynasty. On the north side the coats of arms of the City of Vienna and of the Republic of Austria are depicted.

The black cathedral somehow looks a bit scary though beautiful. It was like seeing a dark ages. I personally did not feel the warmth and the peace like the way I felt the presence of God, in his ubiquitous unique way whenever I entered His house. Maybe it's because the cathedral was built to show off some human powers not the Glory of our monotheist God. I'm merely expressing my view over this gigantic cathedral. My apology to speak out this way, Viennese.

Main source of reference: Wikipedia