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Archive for austria

A Crystalline Adventure

By Linda Tancs

Swarovski Crystal Worlds was opened in 1995 to mark the centennial anniversary of the company’s founding. Located in the town of Wattens (about 20 minutes northeast of Innsbruck), its crystal art exhibitions allow you to experience every facet (no pun intended) of this popular adornment. The Chambers of Wonder include a nostalgic and technological view of the company from its founding through to magical moments on stage, screen and runway. All of the chambers are entered through a “green giant,” an imposing structure that forms the focal point for the multi-sensory installations housed within it.

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Austria’s Fair Spring

By Linda Tancs

Dating to the Middle Ages, Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s top tourist attractions. Originally called Katterburg, its current name was adopted in 1642, derived from Emperor Matthias’s alleged discovery of the schöner Brunnen (“fair spring”) during a hunting expedition in 1612. A former hunting lodge, the grand estate seen today was used as a summer residence by the imperial family beginning in 1745. The tour of the imperial apartments and the magnificent state rooms includes the residential suite of rooms occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth in the west wing, the state rooms in the central section of the palace, the imperial apartments of Maria Theresa and Franz I Stephan and the Franz Karl Apartment, which was occupied by Franz Joseph’s parents, Archduchess Sophie and Archduke Franz Karl. The property is easily reached at Schönbrunn station in Vienna via underground, bus or tram.

Into Thin Air in Austria

By Linda Tancs

The best way to climb the majestic Nordkette mountain range (the heart of Innsbruck, Austria) is to step onboard the Nordkettenbahnen (cable car). The futuristic Hungerburgbahn hybrid funicular railway travels through a tunnel, then over an imposing bridge across the Inn River, and finally traverses an incline of 46 percent to reach the Hungerburg, over 2,800 feet above sea level. If the panoramas from the spacious gondolas don’t meet your requirements, then continue on to the final stage of the Nordkettenbahnen, the Hafelekarbahn. It takes you from Seegrube to Hafelekar, a 7,400-foot-high summit that promises 350 days of cloud-free views a year.

The Year of Klimt

By Linda Tancs

2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Klimt, an Austrian painter and illustrator.  Ten Viennese museums will herald the event with special exhibitions throughout the year, featuring his paintings, drawings and designs.  The Belvedere has the world’s largest collection of Klimt paintings, where a special exhibition is already underway highlighting his collaboration with Josef Hoffmann.  Later, in May, don’t miss the first public viewing of the Wien Museum’s collection of 400 Klimt drawings.  In the meanwhile, don’t miss the Art History Museum event beginning next month, or the spectacular events scheduled for Albertina, the Theatre Museum, Kuenstlerhaus, Folklore Museum, Leopold or the Museum of Applied Art.

High Society Shines in Vienna

By Linda Tancs

The evening view of the Vienna State Opera is spectacular, but what happens in it today has high society all aglow.  The auditorium of the State Opera hosts debutantes in white rustling gowns crowned with crystal tiaras and men in tails, regaling guests in a precise and dizzying waltz around the dance floor.  Held on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, a ticket to the ball is one of the world’s most coveted.  Get your dancing shoes ready for next year.

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Opera on the Lake at Bregenz

By Linda Tancs

The town of Bregenz, the capital of Vorarlberg in the westernmost area of Austria, is located on the Bodensee (Lake Constance). Like any lake district, it offers striking views of the neighboring settlements from its eastern shores, especially those viewed from mount Pfänder towards Lindau. Unlike any other lake district, it has an open-air floating stage to mesmerize visitors during the annual Bregenzer Festspiele, a summer music festival open now through 22 August. This year’s opera on the lake is Verdi’s Aida, a fitting selection for a story that uses the banks of the Nile as a backdrop.  As if that setting weren’t memorable enough, you can add to the experience with the purchase of a premium ticket for Festival Lounge, which includes a four-course dinner and a loaner of Swarovski opera glasses for viewing the four-act extravaganza in the lounge’s comfortable, covered viewing area.  Your chariot awaits.

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Mozart Celebrated in Austria

By Linda Tancs

The hills are indeed alive with the sound of music as Salzburg readies for its annual Mozart Week beginning tomorrow, timed as always to coincide with the birthday of Austria’s musical genius on 27 January. The International Mozarteum Foundation organizes performances from musicians, singers and orchestras around the world. Of special note is a series of concerts to commemorate both Mozart and Haydn, Mozart’s mentor. At the Mozart Residence an exhibition highlighting their mutual admiration will continue until 31 May. Here’s a good opportunity to understand Mozart the artist and Mozart the man.

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