Vienna, Austria and the Gardens and the Dead

Gardens of Schloss Belvedere

Gardens of Schloss Belvedere

At this point, my friend Joy and her friend had already joined me and we were out to see the gardens of Schloss Belvedere, the Vienna Cemetery, and, if time permitted, Schloss Schönbrunn.

We started with the Belvedere and paid the entrance fee for the museum.  The Oberes Belvedere is billed as the one museum you should see in Vienna if you could only could go to one. If you are a fan of Gustav Klimt, then it is definitely worth the small trek out to see it. It houses his most famous painting The Kiss and his other less famous, but no less dramatic, painting Judith. It was not memorable save for Klimt’s The Kiss.  It definitely is a magnificent painting. Too bad I can’t share any photos because photography was not allowed. After taking the rounds of more impressionist paintings we headed down to the gardens. Everything was bare.  It was a barren winter in Austria and the gardens along with it. I told Joy that it is probably really pretty in the spring.  There were some ducks hanging around the garden grounds, probably resting before flying further south.  There was a small Christmas market in front of the Belvedere and we bought some sweets before heading south to the Zentralfriedhof.

The Zentralfriedhof (Vienna Cemetery) is the resting place of several great men.  Beethoven, Franz Schubert, both Johann Strauss, and Johannes Brahms were all buried here.  The sky was filled with gray clouds and we were heading to a cemetery.  What an exciting way to spend the day!  The cemetery is a vast place. I personally wanted to see Schubert’s, Brahms’, and Beethoven’s graves and pay my respects to three great composers.  There wasn’t exactly a map of the cemetery and not a real tourist office to get a map from. Standing somewhere in the center part of the cemetery there were only tombs as far as you can see. The atmosphere is a bit foreboding and it seemed as if every step disturbed some cranky ghost.  We roamed around the cemetery aimlessly for half an hour before we gave up. The girls were getting tired and I was getting frustrated and confused at trying to find those composers’ graves.

Next up was Schloss Schönbrunn.  By this time the skies were starting to darken.  It is winter after all and the sun sets much sooner than usual.  We decided that we wanted to go back to the hostel and rest.  Joy said that Schloss Schönbrunn is probably prettier in the spring. She was right.  I didn’t want to waste more time in a barren garden. As we headed back to the city center on our tram, I looked at the postcard I got from the gift shop.  I imagined how warm the suns rays must feel and how beautiful the gardens must be in full bloom. Hopefully, someday I will be back and see the gardens of not only the Belvedere but of Schönbrunn as well.

Parting Words

When traveling in winter, you must remember that if your location has actual seasons, then you should expect those plants to be hibernating.  Living in California has dulled my senses of the seasons and I just think trees are green year round. Vienna in winter isn’t all devoid of attractions. The Christmas market in front of the Rathaus is definitely a sight to behold.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.