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Top Rated Attractions in Vienna

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St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral is considered one of the world's most enchanting Gothic cathedrals. A 12th-century construction, it was renovated in the Gothic style between 1304 and 1433. It's Northern Tower, standing at a height of 70 meters (229.6 feet), was redesigned according to Renaissance aesthetics in 1579 and the interior was given a baroque slant following the Counter-Reformation. St. Stephen's Cathedral's famed bell, the "Pummerin," weighing no less than 21 tons, suffered considerable fire damage in World War II. It has since been repaired and is now used to mark special occasions, such as to ring in the new year. For those who wish to explore a different side of the cathedral, guided tours of the underground crypts are available.

Art History Museum

Designed and built at the end of the 19th Century by Gottfried Semper and Karl Hasenauer, the Kunsthistorisches Museum houses the Habsburg family's art collection, widely regarded to be one of the finest in Europe. The Picture Gallery is literally a Who's Who of the old masters, containing works by the likes of Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Dürer, Raphael, Titian and Velazquez, as well as a comprehensive collection of paintings by Breugel. One visit is hardly enough to take everything in - lots of people return for a second or third time. The Ephesus Museum - a collection of arms and armour - and the collection of ancient musical instruments in the Imperial Palace also belong to the Kunsthistorisches Museum and are worthy of a visit in their own right.

Schoenbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace in its present form is one of Vienna's most popular tourist attractions, hosting thousands of visitors a week. This Rococo Palace was finished in 1700 under Leopold I and is a smaller version of an imperial project first planned by Johann Fischer von Erlach. The palace was renovated and extended under Maria Theresia, and at that time had 2,000 rooms, a chapel and its own theater. Like all the imperial buildings associated with Maria Theresia, the Schönbrunn complex is today painted in yellow. Napoleon lived here from 1805 to 1809, and Emperor Francis Joseph I, who was born here in 1830, spent the last years of his life in the palace.

Schönbrunn Zoo

In 1752, Francis Stephen Lothringen, the husband of Empress Maria Theresia, founded Vienna's zoo in Schönbrunn. In former times the menagerie served as an entertainment and educational location for the court. Today, one of the main reasons behind the Tiergarten Schönbrunn's popularity is that it is one of the few zoos in the world that houses giant pandas. Some of the baroque style buildings are still used and some new enclosures have also been added. The Imperial Breakfast Pavilion in the historical center of the layout is the starting point for zoo walks. A visit to the zoo is the perfect family entertainment, especially on the weekends.

Vienna State Opera

The magnificent Opernhaus am Ring, famous first and foremost for its annual high society ball, hosts productions of the very highest quality by the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the State Ballet Company and a host of world famous opera singers and directors. However, the opera house started its days on a less auspicious note, with architect Eduard van der Nüll committing suicide in 1868 because of intense public criticism of his design. The Opera House opened with Mozart's Don Giovanni in 1869, and has been going strong ever since.

Albertina

The Albertina resides on a plateau at the far end of Augustinerstraße, beyond the Augustinerkirche. It is named after Albert, Duke of Saxony-Teschen, who bought the palace in the early 19th century. On the basis of his own enthusiasm as a collector, he turned it into a place to display his collection. Today, the Albertina boasts one of the largest collections of graphic arts in the world, with approximately 50000 drawings, etchings and watercolors as well as over a million and a half printed works by all the important artists from Gothic to modern art.

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