VIENNA -- Waltzes and the Danube, coffeehouses and strudel, St.
Stephen's Cathedral and the Ring Road.
Having sold scores of clients on Vienna's Hapsburg-era charms,
travel agents may think they know the city, but if they haven't
visited recently, they should think again.
Once reduced by Cold War geopolitics to an enchanting but
provincial backwater, the city -- a stone's throw from Prague,
Czech Republic, and Budapest, Hungary -- has been busy reclaiming
its status as the nucleus around which central Europe revolves.
Several new cultural attractions -- as well as new twists on
enduring ones -- tempt today's visitor with an ever-growing list of
"musts" for any prospective Viennese itinerary:
• The Albertina: The wraps came off this restored Hapsburg
palace museum this month after several years and millions of
dollars in renovation from five teams of architects.
The Albertina's collections include graphic arts, with 60,000
drawings and 1 million prints; architecture, with 42,000 works; and
a photography collection containing 65,000 items dating to the
invention of the medium.
Hapsburg-era staterooms, open now for the first time, also can
be visited daily.
Meanwhile, temporary exhibitions are held in three halls. Current
and upcoming exhibits address Edvard Munch, through June 22; the
history of photography, through June 8; masterpieces of the
Albertina collection, from July 4 to Aug. 24; and Albrecht Durer,
from Sept. 5 to Nov. 30.
For more information, visit www.albertina.at.
• MuseumsQuartier: The "big daddy" of Vienna's newest cultural
draws, the Museums-Quartier complex groups several museums with
performance spaces, artist studios, restaurants and shops.
The on-site Kunsthalle Wien hosts a large program of local and
international performances and festivals, including the annual
Wiener Festwochen, set this year for May 9 to June 16. For more
information, visit www.festwochen.at.
The Leopold Museum next door offers five floors of Viennese
modern art, including works by hometown boys Gustav Klimt and Egon
Schiele as well as temporary exhibitions.
Directly opposite the Leopold lies the gray, modernist Mumok,
the largest museum of contemporary art in central Europe. For
details, visit www.mqw.at.
• Haus der Musik: Music plays a huge part in life in Vienna, and
the interactive, high-tech House of Music puts a new spin on an old
Each floor offers a different perspective on music: performance,
science, history and the creative process.
The on-site Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic offers traditional
displays of orchestra and conductor memorabilia as well as
The second floor, with its sonosphere, instrumentarium,
perception lab and polyphonium, is home to interactive displays of
the science of sound and music.
One story up, historical exhibitions are devoted to six masters
of classical composition, and the floor above is dedicated largely
to the otherworldly "Brain Opera," where visitors create sounds to
blend into an ever-growing opera.
The House of Music also offers dining in its Cantino restaurant;
for details, visit www.houseofmusic-vienna.at.
• Karlskirche: The 18th century Church of St. Charles Borromeo
isn't new, but during its renovation -- scheduled to last two more
years -- it
offers a novel angle to the traditional cathedral visit.
Visitors can ride a new elevator to scaffolding at the top of
its massive dome; from there, it's a short climb to inspect frescos
Clients should be furnished with the Vienna Card visitor pass.
Priced at about $18, the card offers 72 hours of mass transit and
discounts at more than 170 attractions, restaurants and shops.
For more information, contact the Austrian Tourist Office in New
York at (212) 575-7723 or visit www.austria.info/us.