See Vienna In A Different Light
Vienna by night. Taking this out-of-the-ordinary walk through town still covers top landmarks. Just switch off the sun. Street lights and special lighting accentuate shapes and dramatise even the loveliest baroque squiggles and fountain nymphs. Doing a Vienna walk by night also lets you peek inside those town palaces without flat pressing your nose…
Climb up the stairs of Mölkersteig from Schottengasse to sneak into a narrow alley way that is part of Vienna’s former town fortification Mölkerbastei. The ‘Dreimäderlhaus’ is my favourite there, not only because it houses a top shoe shop but because of its beautiful late baroque façade.
Vienna by night. Pass the Burgtheater, peek into its foyer, and continue to Minoritenkirche. The monumental gothic church seems a little outlandish there. Most of the signage is in Italian, as the church is owned by the Italian congregation of the Italian National Church of Minoritenkirche. Go inside to see the gigantic 41 square metres large mosaic copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous ‘Last Meal’. In the run up to Christmas, the church usually boasts a beautiful Nativity Scene.
Pass the Michaeler Gate with its illuminated columns and gold-decorated copper dome, which is part of Vienna’s Imperial Palace (Hofburg). The gate connects the main palace with the inner city.
Horse carriages (Fiaker) pass by regularly, adding their clopping sounds to the quiet evening atmosphere.
I don’t know how often I had passed the
left Michaeler fountain in daylight but the nasty row between two water monsters, Neptune and
unlucky humans only managed to impress me once the sun was switched off. The Habsburg Emperors displayed this dramatic intermezzo to demonstrate their power at sea.
For added thrill, walk over to the second fountain on the other side of the gate (‘power at land‘). Three ferocious looking males, a winding snake and an eagle tumble and fight at the feet of a victorious fig-leaved male.
Vienna by night. Once you passed the Spanish Riding School you will land at Josefsplatz square. It houses the Austrian National Library, the pompous equestrian monument of Emperor Josef II, and the town palaces of Pallavicini and Palffy. If you do the Third Man Movie tour, you will get to know more about the role of this square and the Pallavicini palace in Graham Greene’s cult classic.
Thanks to its spectacular viewing terrace, the museum of the Albertina lends itself to explorations even when its doors are closed. Take the escalator up to the terrace to get a prime view of Alfred Hrdlicka’s modern World War II memorial, the back of the Vienna State Opera, and a glimpse of Burggarten with its adjacent orangerie.
Vienna State Opera
Vienna by night. Was this building ever mistaken as the central train station? (It was, by World War II air bombers who almost laid it in ashes.) The lit windows and illuminated copper roof of the Vienna State Opera lift this massive block and let it shine. Walk under the cylindric lanterns of the passageway in the opera arcades as you head for the Secession.
Don’t wait for the sun to rise until you walk over to the Secession, five minutes from the opera house. Its enormous golden globe made of hundreds of gold plated leaves shines so much brighter against the night sky, as does its whole structure of simple white cubes.
The wall decorations are well visible, while the three relief owls look a little more sinister. You can always come back to visit its interior on your way to Naschmarkt or Karlskirche during the day.
Vienna by Night Guided Tours
There is also a wonderful guided Vienna night walk if you look for informed input, entertainment and company. The guide is famous for adding creepy local legends to this history and fun walk. If you’d like your own private guide, go for the private guided Vienna Evening Walking Tour.