The Vienna State Opera is one of the most famous operas in the world. Built in a grandiose Neo-Renaissance style to reflect the origins of its art, construction began in 1861 and finished in 1869. On May 25, 1869, the opera house opened with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth. Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria. In 2001, the city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vienna is known for its high quality of life. In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first for the world’s most livable cities. The Castle Garden was laid out in the year 1818 as a private garden of the emperor on an area of approx. 38.000 m² (10 acres). It is located directly at the Ringstrasse beside the Hofburg and the Albertina Museum. The Castle Garden was opened to the public in the year 1919 together with its monuments and the Palm Tree House. As in a typical greenhouse, the walls and the rounded ceiling are largely made of glass. For some time now it has been divided into three parts. In the middle is a cafe, in the right part a greenhouse and on the left the famous butterfly house. The terrace of the Palm Tree House is also a very nice place to stay. The Albertina is an 18th-century palace in Vienna housing a famous museum of painting, sculpture, graphic arts, photography and architecture. The baroque palace of Albertina was built in 1744 and gifted in 1794 to the Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, hence its name. The most prized pieces are the works by Albrecht Dürer, including the Young Hare from 1502 (original is displayed twice every 5 years, but an exact copy is shown daily). Other paintings and sketches include works by Monet, Picasso, Chagall, Klimt, Raphael, Warhol, and Rubens. In the late-1800s a huge luxury apartment complex named Philipphof was built centered in a large open courtyard overlooking Albertina Square. Sadly in the height of WWII, hundreds of residents sought shelter in the basement of the Philipphof Apartments and were buried alive in an air raid on March 12th, 1945. With the memory of the war victims in mind, a series of statues were erected in 1988 on the site of the former apartment which now serves as the Anti-War and Fascism Monument. Today the pedestrian-only Carinthia Road is one of Vienna’s most popular streets lined with great shops and restaurants. If you need to get any souvenirs for yourself or gifts while in Vienna then Carinthia Road is a perfect place to look. The massive Gothic-style Saint Stephen’s Cathedral is the focal point and geographic center of modern Vienna. Saint Stephen’s started as a small parish in 1137, in a large Roman cemetery just outside of the walls of Vindobona, a Roman military garrison. From 1230 to 1245, the chapel was completely redone as a larger Romanesque church with an impressive door and towers. Much of what we see today stems from an expansion that was started in 1304 by King Albert I. His grandson, Rudolf IV the Founder, laid the first stone for yet another expansion in 1359, which would bring the church to its current size. The nave of the Stephen’s Cathedral is 108 meters (354 ft) long and its Gothic vaulted ceiling reaches a height of about 27 meters (88ft). The stone Gothic pulpit, sculpted in 1514 by master stonemason Anton Pilgram is most likely to first catch the attention of visitors. While the cathedral is mostly Gothic in style, the high altar is clearly baroque. The marble and stone altar, created by Johann Jakob Pock, shows statues of four saints. This is the actual apartment that Mozart and his family occupied from 1784 to 1787, quite the longest period of time he stayed in one place in the city. Located close to Stephen’s Cathedral, it was a fairly high-class rental address, with some six to seven rooms around the open atrium and staircase at the center of the house. The 69-foot-tall column was built in 1693 to honor the 1/3 of Vienna’s population who died in the Plague of 1679. It pays thanks to God for the ones who survived. The St. Peter’s church dates back to the second half of the fourth century, and is speculated to be the oldest church in Vienna. Completed in 1732, today St Peter’s Church is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Vienna and one of the most outstanding artistic monuments in Austria. The history of the In Court Square goes back to the Roman era, when a military garrison was built here. Vienna was the ancient Vindobona a military town (castrum) founded by the Romans to protect the northern border of the Empire. In 180 Emperor Marcus Aurelius died in Vindobona, where he had set the headquarters of his campaign against a Germanic tribe constituting a constant threat to Roman settlements. Michael’s Square is dominated by the baroque facade of Hofburg Palace’s Saint Michael Wing. This huge building was completed in 1889 in place of the old Royal Theater. Excavations at Michael’s Square unearthed remains of a Roman house as well as some medieval foundations and remains of the former Royal Theater. The main feature of the square is the giant equestrian statue unveiled in 1795 of Emperor Joseph II in Roman clothing The equestrian statue is actually a take on an ancient statue of Roman Empire Marcus Aurelius which sits on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy. This was the original portion of today’s Hofburg Palace (or Imperial Castle), built from 1220 to 1278 as a square Gothic castle with corner towers. Only fragments of the original castle remain today as it was given a Renaissance makeover in the 1400s The Imperial Apartments were the residential and state rooms used by Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elizabeth, known as Sisi. The apartments are filled with over 165,000 pieces of original furniture from the Hapsburg Dynasty spanning over 300 years. Construction design of the Neue Hofburg consisted of two mirroring semicircular wings arranged around Heroes’ Square, started in 1881. The first wing was finally completed in 1913 but the outbreak of the First World War and subsequent collapse of the empire halted further construction. Most Habsburg emperors liked to build monuments to themselvea, but the one honouring the reign of Empress Maria Theresa is an exception. It was unveiled in 1888, under the rule of one of her successors, Franz Joseph.