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Maria-Theresien Strasse


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Vienna Christmas market

Published by Dóra Csatári — 2 years ago

Hello all!

Today I’m writing about Austria’s capital city, Vienna (Wien in German). I visited Vienna two years ago on a cold November day on the first Sunday of Advent. Every year there’s a Christmas market in the city centre of Vienna. I was curious not only about this market, but also about the entire city.

The journey from Budapest to Vienna lasts 2 and a half hour by car and by bus as well. Driving on the freeway is a good option, the destination will be reached faster than by train. Travelling by train usually takes a bit more time because trains have more stops. At the Austrian border You won’t be controlled by agents, the border is absolutely free. (I don’t know how is it nowadays due to the flow of the migrants, but 2 years ago I could cross the border without any complications).

From the Austrian border, Vienna is just a few minutes drive. Vienna is the largest city in Austria, but not as big as Budapest. Nevertheless, the population of the two capitals is similarly around 1, 7 million people. Vienna is a modern city with good public transportation and a pleasant and uniform street-image. The first impression about it was absolutely nothing special. It was just like any other modern Western-European city. Mostly consisting of block of flats, business centres, family houses and gardens in the suburbs, squares and parks in the city centre. Clean and well-organized. But I felt neutral about it. At first I couldn’t find out how Vienna’s real character is. It didn’t show me anything special. Anything what my brain could imprint in itself forever, and associate with this city my whole life. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t find Vienna a cool place, it has everything a developed city needs. Consciousness, eco-friendliness, logical and systematized infrastructure. Good work opportunities and high life-quality. I could imagine living or studying in Vienna. But still, I was curious what kind of mysteries were hiding in it. Fortunately, till the end of my trip I found out why is Vienna so special.

To tell the truth, after a one hour walk at Schönbrunn Castle and the afternoon spent in the old town at the Christmas market I totally changed my opinion about Vienna. It is still not my favorite city in Austria, Innsbruck was stunning (check my experience in Insbruck), and the style of Graz was more unique. However Vienna is as beautiful as possible if we take into account that it’s a busy capital city, offering home to many people from different cultures. A place where cultures mix, can’t remain authentic, and unchanged, uninfluenced forever. Sooner or later trends coming from foreign countries and foreign cultures will have an effect on local culture. Regardless of this, Vienna is nice and fortunately has a unique aspect.

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Schloss Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Castle) is an attraction frequented by many tourists. It’s part of UNESCO World Heritage. The palace was owned by the Habsburgs, do Franz Joseph Kaiser or Maria Theresia' names ring a bell to you? They owned this castle and lived in it until the 19th century. The whole territory of the castle and its garden and court is very big. The castle was built in baroque style. Schönbrunn Palace is close to the city-centre by metro number 4. The castle itself is in fact one of the main attractions, but I haven’t entered it. I found many interesting places outside the castle as well. For example there is a beautiful fountain called Neptune right in front of the palace in the castle garden. Or the labyrinth behind the palace. There’s even a Zoo, the only baroque-style Zoo in the whole World. Schönbrunn Zoo is also the oldest Zoo in the World. It dates from the 17th century.

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Due to the Christmas market, the court of the castle was full of hot-chocolate merchandisers, boutiques, buffets, bakeries, souvenir-shops.

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After this little bypass, I continued my way towards the central Christmas market. What surprised me the most was that there are several Christmas markets at the same time held in different locations. Handcrafted goods can be bought, home-made traditional warm meals can be served. There was even live music, Christmas carols were sung. The Christmas markets I’ve joined were in front of the City Hall (Rathausplatz) and Maria-Theresien Square (Platz) just a few minutes walk away from each other. However there are more Christmas markets at the Uni Campus, behind the National Theatre and in front of Schönbrunn Palace.

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We also have Christmas markets in my home-country, and I guess anywhere around Europe there are festivities and markets around Christmas. Budapest and Cluj-Napoca didn’t impress me so much how Vienna did though. I didn’t buy any Christmas decoration, or souvenir, but I’ve tried some delicatessens. I tasted very good quality mulled wine with ginger and berries, I tried creamy hot-chocolate with cinnamon and caramel as well and ate gingerbread. For lunch I choose fried hot smoked sausages with French fries.

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These Christmas markets are actually called ‘Christmas-villages’ by locals. The lights, smells, sounds and the whole atmosphere is intimate. I felt blessed by walking in the centre. My heart was warm, I felt calm and I was prepared for Christmas. At the end of the journey I was absolutely on the frequency of Christmas feast. If You want to have a pleasant and unique Advent experience, don’t hesitate to do a 1 day travel at Vienna.

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P. s. : Sorry for the quality of the pictures, I'm not a professional photographer.

Thanks for reading,

Dora.

If you want to read more about my experiences, click here.

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