Vienna has many monuments in the shape of grand buildings and probably all of them are worthy of some form of description. We came across a significant one just a few hundred metres from our hotel – The Russian Memorial!
Near the end of World War II, Soviet forces captured Vienna and freed it from Hitler’s occupation. The Russians built this monument to remember their fallen. In summer, it has a large fountain to the front but this is currently drained for winter. The Russians occupied Vienna on April 14, 1945 and didn’t leave until 1955, ten years later. I wondered why, considering the emotions of the Cold War Period, such a monument would still exist in a Western Country. Apparently it has generally been an unpopular reminder for many Viennese of the painful Soviet occupation in the weeks following the war. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the memorial in 2007 to lay flowers and specifically give thanks to Austria for not demolishing it. The city has paid to refurbish the memorial, despite objections from some members of the community.
It was short walk further away from the city for us to reach the Belvedere Palace. This is a sort of memorial to the ego of Prince Eugene of Savoy who purchased the land for the palace and its gardens in 1697. The grounds are set on a gentle gradient and include very ostentatious tiered fountains and cascades, Baroque sculptures, and majestic wrought iron gates. It now operates as a museum, or art gallery.
With a downhill stroll, we returned to the area of the Russian Memorial and passed a few grand buildings that house various embassies towards the square known as Karlplatz. This was in front of the Charles Church; a very grand church with a dome and two columns on which bible stories were illustrated with relief carvings in a spiral fashion. They looked like the could almost have been minarets on a mosque.
Because it wear cold and damp, we tok a tram ride on a random route. We choose the ‘D Route tram’ and rode out the terminus at Nußdorf to the north of VIenna and back. Origianlly a little town in its own right, Nußdorf, once had its own brewery, but now seems to mainly a residential area of Vienna. On our way back into the city, we stopped off to see the Votive Church.
This church is apparently one of the most important neo-Gothic religious architectural sites in the world. We had seen its rather delicate ‘lace work’ spires from a distance ands decided that we should stop by and have a look. Construction began in 1856, and it was dedicated twenty-six years later on April 24, 1879. Apparently it has a superb organ, and a wonderful interior that matches the beauty of its exterior with patterned roof and flying buttresses along the walls. Unfortunately, it was completely boarded up for renovations. The best thing that we could do was to gaze across the road to Sigmund Freud Park and wonder what the great analyst might have thought of it all.
Although it was getting cold and dark (around 4:00 pm) we walked along the short distance to the Town Hall and through the Christmas Market again. As you might expect, we found a couple of extra things to buy before catching the tram back to our hotel. The cold air and the bright lights of the market, along with the grand building of the Town Hall as a backdrop tot the scene introduced quite a feeling of the Christmas season. It was hard to pass up another mug of Gluhwien before catching the tram.