Robin's Adventures

Central and Eastern Europe
An Adventure Steeped in History


There are some very interesting catacombs, with remains of over 11,000 people, under Saint Stephan's Cathedral.

During the bubonic plague outbreak of 1735 thousands of corpses were placed in pits that were dug in the floor of the crypt. The smell, unfortunately, wafted up into the cathedral and made religious services impossible. In order to get rid of the odor, prisoners from the local jail were sent down to scrub the flesh off the rotting corpses and stack the bones into neatly ordered piles.

Another section of the catacombs contains large jars with organs, mostly intestines, from deceased members of the royal family. Apparently, one of the jars recently had a rather odoriferous leak and it took several days before anyone was willing to go into that part of the catacombs to deal with the situation.

Jewish Museum

The Jewish museum is housed in two different buildings. The first building, at the current day Judenplatz, houses the excavated ruins of a synagogue that was the center of a thriving Jewish community that existed in Vienna during the Middle Ages. This community, and the temple, came to a violent end in 1421.

The second part of the Jewish Museum houses Jewish artifacts in a series of display cases. In addition, there is a large exhibit that focuses on Jewish contributions to the American entertainment industry.

Library Memorial

The Jewish Holocaust Memorial, also called the Nameless Library, was designed by artist Rachel Whiteread and completed in October 2000.

The memorial looks like a library with all of the spines of the books facing backwards. The books symbolize the untold stories of the countless Jews who were murdered in the holocaust as well as the intellectual and cultural void that was created by the extermination of European Jews.

The doors on the front of this library of books have no doorknobs and do not open, symbolizing the finality of the situation.

Noteworthy Buildings

Vienna is a beautiful city with an old world charm and a great deal of interesting architecture.

The Hofburg Palace, built in the 13th century, was the main winter residence of Austrian monarchs. Today, the building contains the official offices of the Austrian president.

The National Library, which is considered to be part of the Hofburg Palace, is the largest library in the nation. It has more than 7.4 million items.

Saint Peter's Cathedral is built on the site of the oldest church in Vienna, which dates from the 4th century.

Saint Michael's Church, dating from the 13th century, used to be the parish church of the imperial court.

Interesting Architecture

Part of the charm of Vienna is the interesting finishing touches added to many of the buildings.

Delightful Dining

There are many noteworthy restaurants in Vienna. Two of our favorites were Figlmullers and Demels.

Figlmullers is a family owned restaurant that has been making schnitzel for more than 100 years. It is one of the best schnitzels we have ever eaten.

Demels is a famous pastry shop that was established in 1786. The biggest problem with eating there is choosing which of the amazing pastries to try.

Lipizzaner Stalions

We stopped by Vienna's Spanish Riding School, where classical dressage has been taught since 1735, for a quick visit to the Lipizzaner stallions. One of the horses had some very strong opinions that he was not shy about sharing with us.

Albertina Museum

The Albertina is an art museum in a building that was once a royal palace.

There are some beautifully decorated rooms that show how the living quarters of the palace looked during the mid-18th century.

In addition there are many statues, paintings, and tapestries throughout the museum.

Seen about Town

There were many interesting things that we noticed as we wandered through Vienna. A life-sized Pinocchio sat on a bench outside a toy store.

There were smoking booths so people could stop for a smoke without polluting the air everyone else had to breathe.

We also enjoyed the flowers on the Golden Rain Tree and the flowers grown in a treble clef near the statue of Mozart.

Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Kunsthistorisches Museum, which is the largest art museum in Austria, was opened in 1891. The Natural History Museum, which is just across the square from the art museum, was opened at the same time. Both museums were designed to house collections belonging to the royal Hapsburg family and to provide a cultural experience for the general public.

While at the museum, we enjoyed watching a couple of local artists copying works of great artists.