A Travel Guide to the Ringstraße - Part II
On the other side of the Ringstraße are the twin museums of the Naturhistorisches (Natural History) and Kunsthistorisches (Art History) Museum. In the centre, legendary Empress Maria Theresia is surrounded by some of her most successful generals and military leaders. Behind the statue of Austria′s "Mother of the Nation", you can see the new MuseumsQuartier, the museum district.
Keep on walking and you will pass by the Burggarten Park. In the Burggarten, you can see one of Austria′s most tasteless memorials, a statue of Mozart in a hyper-romantic pose. Just follow the crowds of tourists. Behind the park, by the way, you will find the Albertina Museum of Graphic Art, right next to the Augustinerkirche and National Library. Moving on, you see a memorial for the German "Prince of Poetry" Goethe, only insignificantly more tasteful than the one for Mozart.
Goethe looks straight ahead and right into the eyes of his buddy Schiller who sits on the other side of the Ringstraße. Schiller guards the Academy of Fine Arts, with the Secession Gallery, Verkehrsbüro and the onset of the Naschmarkt just behind it. Moving on, you will pass the Staatsoper on one side and the Karlsplatz Square with Karlskirche Church on the other. Here you can also see the Künstlerhaus Gallery and the Wiener Musikverein, the most exclusive concert hall of Vienna, but also the Wien Museum.
Sightseeing in the South of the Ringstraße
Approaching Schwarzenbergplatz, you will see - given that the heavy traffic allows it - a rather odd sight: A fountain (Hochstrahlbrunnen) commemorating the construction of a water pipeline to supply Vienna with Alpine water from sources in Styria and a Soviet War Memorial behind it. This memorial was erected by the Soviets after WWII, when this part of Vienna was under their administration. Since the Soviet soldiers committed one of the most extensive mass rapes of the 20th century upon the occasion of Vienna′s "liberation", many Viennese refer to the memorial as the "Memorial for the Unknown Rapist".
I wonder myself how a totalitarian country like the Soviet Union under Staling can "liberate" anybody - apart from the systematic and state-governed looting that took place in the following years in Eastern Austria, which eventually led to the displacement of industries in these parts of the country. Austrians used to say that the country could take another World War - but wouldn′t survive another liberation. However, in order to get the Soviets to piss off eventually in 1955, one condition Austria had to accept was to keep this memorial.
This is sorted in the "Staatsvertrag" or "National Treaty" between Austria and the allies. Therefore, whilst all formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe have long got rid of their Soviet propaganda, Austria has to preserve this one and even care for it. Behind it you will get to the Schloss Belvedere Palace and Museum, probably Vienna′s second most important palace after Schloss Schönbrunn, as well as Palais Schwarzenberg, the Gardekirche and Salesianerinnenkirche.
Touring the Central Bits of the Ringstraße
Moving on, you now have to walk a bit until you get to the next attraction. On the right side of the Ringstraße, you will eventually see the Stadtpark or City Park. If you think I was right in making fun of Mozart′s memorial in the Burggarten, boy, wait until you see the one for Johann Strauss in the Stadtpark.
Designed by Edmund Hellmer in 1921 and to me, it wins the competition for Vienna′s most pretentious piece of art (which means quite something in a self-loving place like Vienna). It is also probably the most famous memorial of Austria′s capital, but not the only memorial for a famous dead Austrian in the park.
Sprinkled all over its 65,000 square meters, there are others for Franz Schubert, Franz Lehar, Anton Bruckner and other musicians and artists.
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Vienna by District
District Overview - 1st (Innere Stadt) - 2nd (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd (Landstraße) - 4th (Wieden) - 5th (Margareten)- 6th (Mariahilf) - 7th (Neubau) - 8th (Josefstadt) - 9th (Alsergrund) - 10th (Favoriten) - 11th (Simmering) - 12th (Meidling) - 13th (Hietzing) - 14th (Penzing) - 15th (Fünfhaus) - 16th (Ottakring) - 17th (Hernals) - 18th (Währing) - 19th (Döbling) - 20th (Brigittenau) - 21st (Floridsdorf) - 22nd (Donaustadt) - 23rd (Liesing) - Ringstraße - Surroundings