The festive season will make nostalgic fools out of most of us, and I reckon even cutting edge minimalists don’t stand a chance in Vienna. And why even resist when the old-world charm is presented with such elegance and proper Austrian poshness? Relax, take it in, and let the smell of fresh coffee, the sound of horses’ hooves on the cobbled streets, the sight of mink coats and hats at every corner — the most stylish of which undoubtedly from White Line Hotels’ Collaborator Mühlbauer Hutmanufaktur — not to mention the Christmas markets and a pre-dinner tipple of Glühwein at the renowned Café Bräunerhof, lull you into submission. Good job there was no snow or we would have become hysterical with pleasure and gratitude.
The time we had available didn’t allow for a full-on city itinerary, but as we wandered from the MuseumsQuartier to the Innere Stadt we took in the architecture, which, as one would expect, is breathtaking and monumental. Art Nouveau left many traces around Vienna; a prime example being the white and gold Vienna Secession Hall, designed in 1898 by the very young architect Joseph Maria Olbrich who, together with Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, founded the Secession art movement in 1897. The hall was conceived a year later and was a dedicated exhibition space for the “rebel” artists who seceded the long-established fine art institution. Visit the website for an up to date program of exhibitions, events, opening times for Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze and the current Klimt2012 anniversary exhibition.
If on the other hand Art Nouveau isn’t quite your thing, there is much greatness also to be admired in the architectural works of Adolf Loos (1870-1933), a radical and innovative architect as well as early promoter of the design motto “form follows function”. He detested the superfluously ornamental style of Viennese Art Nouveau (he was no fan of the Secession building) and his views on the subject make for an interesting read in his famous and controversial essay Ornament and Crime. The Looshaus and the Cafe Museum on the Operngasse 7, Karlsplatz, are two beautiful examples of his distinct style.
Trying to catalogue the city into my inner filing system, popping it alongside say Paris, Munich or London, was a futile attempt. It didn’t sit. Vienna is so grand and so important in its own right that there is no way, let alone need, to compare it with other world cities. We are smitten not only with the city’s grandiose architecture but also with its aforementioned old-world charm, which fortunately remains resolutely solid and real in today’s modern times. We’re going back in Spring and this time, instead of staying with the family, we’re booking ourselves into the Hollmann Beletage, White Line Hotels’ insider tip. Counting the weeks from now!
Contributing Writer: Stefanie Soar
Photos: Stefanie Soar
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