Today was the first full day that Ben was able to join me, and it started off with Mass at the Burgkapelle, which was the private chapel for the Hapsburgs. That would be cool enough, but it was a Mass by Mozart, sung by the Vienna Boys choir. Amazing! They were in the choir loft for Mass, but they came down to the front afterwards to sing one song. They were originally founded to sing Mass for the Hapsburgs, so it was especially neat to see them in the Chapel. They were so adorable in their uniforms. The soprano that sang the solos was simply amazing. To think that a little boy could sound that good!
After Mass, we walked around the outside of the Hofburg palace. We saw the Spanish riding school, but we didn’t see the horses because it was extremely expensive and we had spent all our money seeing the choir. The outside of the palace was beautiful and huge, and now it is full of art museums. The area around the palace is known as the Herrengasse and is lined by former houses of the nobility.
We walked around the Kohlmarkt, which leads up to the palace and is full of shops. These are more along the lines of the shops I was looking for earlier in the trip. Though expensive, the shops are full of beautiful things that Vienna is known for. Also in the Kohlmarkt is the Pestäule, which is this giant statue to commemorate one of plagues. We had breakfast at Demel Konditorei, which is a famous pastry shop. I had apple strudel and espresso, which ranks as one of the all time best breakfasts. The shop is very Victorian inside. We also walked around the Kärnter Strasse, which is another shopping street lined with beautiful architecture. We saw the American Bar, which has a ridiculous sign and a beautiful interior.
Beneath the Kapuzinerkirche is the Kaisergruft, or the tomb of the Hapsburgs. We couldn’t go in the church itself because it was closed, but from the outside it was surprisingly plain. We could go in the crypts underneath the church and see the tombs of the bodies (minus the intestines and hearts which are in other churches) of the Hapsburgs. Ben’s favorite was Maximilian, who was the Emperor of Mexico for a brief period. All of the sarcophagi were very ornate, but the tomb of Maria Theresea put all the others to shame.
Peterkirche is another beautiful church that was apparently modeled after St. Peter’s in Rome. What made it stick out for us was the martyr beneath one of the altars. It used to be that there was always some small relic of a saint in every altar, but they weren’t normally visible and they certainly weren’t whole bodies richly dressed. On the one hand it was very cool to see someone who had the courage to die for their faith. On the other hand, speaking as a convert to Catholicism, Catholics are weird. We also saw the Minoritenkirche, which apparently has a funny shape due to shells fired by the Turks in 1529. We couldn’t go inside because they were having an opera concert, but we stayed outside for a few minutes to listen.
After so much walking we decided to ride the tram around the Ringstrasse, which is a boulevard that replaced the city walls, so you can see a lot of the sights. The only annoying part is there isn’t a tram that runs all the way around, which we didn’t realize at first, so we ended up a little ways into the suburbs.
For dinner that night we went to a restaurant called Centimeters in the Spittelberg Pedestrian area. It is neat area in the Museum Quarter with lots of different restaurants. The one we chose allowed you to order everything by the centimeter. Ben ordered their specialty, two meters of sausage. I think it was the happiest day of his life!