Historic Centre of Vienna – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hey everyone I’m Joel on the Road. And today,
my UNESCO World Heritage Journey is at the Historic City of Vienna, in Austria. So this is Vienna, the grand imperial capital
of the Habsburgs, and the seat of the Holy Roman Empire for hundreds and hundreds of
years. It’s one of the grandest, largest and most impressive capital cities anywhere in
the world I think, and I think it was Bill Bryson who once said that if aliens ever land
on Earth and go looking for the world’s capital city, they will probably think it’s Vienna.
The buildings are just that impressive. It’s one of my favourite cities; I’ve been here
a few times, and I’m really excited to show everyone around. Let’s go! Behind me you can see one of the grandest
buildings in Vienna, the Natural History Museum, and it’s part of the Museumsquartier district
on the edge of town. Now, directly opposite is the Fine Art Museum as well, which is a
matching building, and they’re both very very beautiful. They’re arranged around a large
square and park, centred on a statue of the greatest empress of the Habsburgs, Maria Theresa. This is the Burgtor, or the Castle Gate, and
it’s the only remaining part of Vienna’s old city walls that were torn down in the 1850s
to make way for the Ringstrasse, or the ring-road that runs around the ancient core of Vienna.
Now it was also the main entrance to the palace of the Hofburg, so if you’ve never seen what’s
on the other side of the gate, you’re in for a treat – let’s go. The is the Neuburg, the newest part of the
Habsburg palace here in Vienna, which is just a colossal complex. Now despite its immense
size here, the Neuburg is actually unfinished. It took them 30 years to build what you can
see, but it’s only a quarter of what they planned to build. By the end of it, World
War 1 was happening, and of course Austria collapsed at the end of it, so they never
got to finish it. Vienna actually began life as a Roman military
encampment, and although there’s not much left of the old *old* city, there’s still
a little bit that pokes out here and there. Like these Roman ruins that you can see behind
me, dug up in front of the Hofburg at Michaelsplatz. In addition to the economic, military and
political power of the Habsburgs, Vienna was also a cultural power as well. And that cultural
power was centred right here, at the state Opera House. Mozart’s famous opera, the Marriage
of Figaro was first performed right in this building behind me, and many many other famous
composers like Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, and Strauss all got their starts here in Vienna.
They even invented the waltz! Now this is one of the little hidden secrets
of Vienna, because underneath this unassuming orange chapel that you can see behind me is
actually the Habsburg family crypt. And there’s five hundred years worth of emperors, kings,
and other royalty buried down there. Let’s check it out. This is the plague monument, and it’s one
of my favourite monuments in all of Vienna. It was built in 1693 in memory of the one third
of Vienna’s population that was wiped out in a devastating plague. The gold cap that
you can see at the top is to the Brotherhood of the Holy Trinity, who were one of the first
groups in Europe to use science to turn back the plague, rather than just prayer. This is the cathedral of St Stephen, the oldest
building in the city and right at the centre as well. All of the roads in the old town
lead pretty much directly to this spot. Now it’s not the original “original” church, this
one dates from around the 14th century when it was rebuilt after a fire, but it’s still
very very beautiful. And I feel like we’ve hardly scratched the surface here in Vienna,
there’s just so much to do and to see. It’s an incredible place, and one of my favourite
cities, but we are going to have to leave it there. So thank you very much for watching,
don’t forget to Like and Subscribe. I’m Joel on the Road, and I’ll see you at the next
World Heritage site.

Author: Kevin Mason

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