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Palaces and Fighting Babies in Vienna

The day began ended with palace visits, starting with the excessive Schönbrunn Palace and ending with the more humble Palais Kinsky. The Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence for the Habsburg rulers. When I grew up, our family's summer "residence" was tenting for six weeks. Unlike my family, the Habsburgs were not the roughing it sort. They needed 1,441 Rococo-style rooms surrounded by large gardens. (Image: The back of the palace.)

Each room we visited was completely over the top with frescoed ceilings, lavish paintings, and elaborate chandeliers. (Photos weren't allowed.) There were passageways behind the rooms so servants could unobtrusively enter a room to carry out their duties. When I learned that the servants add fuel to the room heaters from the passageways, I wondered if the Hapsburgs thought they had perpetual heating machines. (Image: Fountain in the back garden.)

The chandeliers impressed me the most because back in the day, candles were the lighting source. With many dozens of candles in a chandelier, I imagined it was quite a feat to get them all lit before having to replace the first one. Servants were told what length candles to use, and that determined "lights out" for a party. If you had a bunch of people over as an obligation, say the in-laws, you could use shorter candles and thus end the soirée early. (Image: In the gardens, a Roman soldier wonders how to get the hooded crow off his helmet.)

After the palace, while on a quest for wiener schnitzel, we came across St. Stephen's Church. Like many buildings in this part of the world, they are too tall to capture without using a very wide angle lens. St. Stephen's has a very tall spire. I've been told the spire is there so the minions know the direction of heaven. There is no mistaking from this image that the way is up.

When I got inside, I was told that tourists could not enter the main part of the church due to a service that was about to take place for the youth of the city. I was able to walk to the barrier to snap this photo. The church is an interesting mixture of the old and the new--modern dove sculptures and LCD panels with the beblessed2023 hashtag on them. The grand organ in the church no longer works, so the service began with electronic instruments from the front of the church.

St. Stephen's side altars retain the traditional look.

Palais Kinsky was a bite-size version of Schönbrunn Palace. These sorts of magnificent buildings were allotted to people who served the Emperor well with such deeds as fighting off the Emperor's enemies. That's how Count Daun, a Field Marshall, acquired the palace in the early 18th century. Later the Kinsky family bought the palace. Hence the name. I not only got to visit the palace, but ate dinner there along with the other members of our tour group. (Image: Stairway to dinner.)

The dining room was small and tall, creating another challenge to capture the grandeur of the room in a photo. The ornate walls, frescoed ceiling, and a large chandelier were becoming common place to me after touring so many buildings from this era.

We were not only served a wonderful three-course meal, but we were treated to a three-course concert. A six-woman chamber group along with a soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, and bass performed typical Viennese music that included a healthy dose of Franz Lehár. In the USA, most people who know of Lehár are familiar with The Merry Widow. Tonight, I heard tunes I never heard before. We heard just the chamber group and then the musicians with various arrangements of the other voices--solos, duets, quartets. The last set included a waltz for us, the audience.

On the way out, I couldn't resist admiring the fighting babies. Who commissions such things? I've never seen infants this age clawing at each other, grabbing hair, pulling ears. The hallway was full of them. I captured just a few in this image. This is not something I'd want to look at everyday.

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