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Vienna 2016: Imperial & Contemporary


The Emperor Franz Joseph reigned over the Danube monarchy for 68 years. He was the embodiment of imperial power, the last great sovereign of a dying epoch. The elderly monarch died in 1916 in Schönbrunn Palace. The centennial of his death falls in 2016. Vienna has undergone profound changes over the past century, transforming itself from ostentatious imperial capital to a modern center for contemporary art.


The Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palace were central to his power. Emperor Franz Joseph was born in Schönbrunn in 1830, he governed here and in the Hofburg beginning in 1848, and he died in the Palace in 1916. To mark the 100th anniversary of his death, exhibitions that look at the life and works of the emperor, including the construction Vienna's Ringstrasse, will take place between 16 March and 27 November 2016 in Schönbrunn Palace, the Imperial Furniture Collection and in Niederweiden Palace (Lower Austria). The Austrian National Library shows numerous photos and pictures of the monarch in the exhibition “The eternal Emperor” from 8 April to 30 October 2016.


Attention will also be paid to other imperial figures and institutions over the course of 2016. The Lower Belvedere celebrates its 300th anniversary in that year. Its creator, Prince Eugene of Savoy, died 280 years ago. The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna (Art History Museum) is celebrating its 125th birthday from 8 March to 18 September 2016 with the exhibition “Feste Feiern” (Celebrating Festivals). And the Prater in Vienna was opened to the public 250 years ago by Emperor Joseph II. Once the royal hunting grounds, today it is Vienna’s favorite leisure area. An exhibition at the Wien Museum highlights the eventful history of the Prater from 10 March to 21 August 2016.


It is the connection between the imperial and the modern that makes Vienna so unique today. The best example of this is the city's MuseumsQuartier (MQ). Originally erected in Baroque style to house the emperor's horses, it is now one of the world's largest and most modern art complexes. The MQ will celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2016. World-class contemporary art is the focus at the Kunsthalle Wien and mumok – Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna.


A number of other locations exhibiting contemporary art have also opened their doors outside of the MQ, including the 21er Haus near the Belvedere Palace, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, founded by Francesca Habsburg and located in the baroque Augarten, and the Brotfabrik in Vienna’s tenth district, which is called home by many of the city’s young artists. The Kunst Haus Wien, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2016, primarily exhibits photographic art. The Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the Museum of Fine Arts, Vienna and the Belvedere Palace are  increasingly exhibiting contemporary art amidst their splendid historical backdrops. And while Klimt's world-famous Beethoven frieze can be marveled at on the lower floor of the Secession, exhibitions of contemporary art are shown on the upper floor of the Art Nouveau jewel.


Contemporary art galleries throw open their doors in the spring during the Vienna Gallery Weekend. In autumn each year, Vienna becomes the center of contemporary art, when the art fairs viennacontemporary and Viennafair as well as the Vienna Art Week are on the program. Keep your eyes peeled whilst riding the subway – the public art organization “Kunst im öffentlichen Raum” has outfitted a number of stations with artworks. Contemporary design is also in the spotlight in Vienna: the Vienna Design Week will take place for the tenth time in 2016. Museum exhibitions on design can be found in MAK Vienna (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art), the Imperial Furniture Collection, the Porcelain Museum at Augarten and in the Designforum in the MQ.

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Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof Wien from 140 €


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Top things to do

in Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family, is one of Europe's most impressive Baroque palace complexes. Spend an entire day at Schönbrunn: visit the show rooms with a "Grand Tour with Audio Guide" and admire the splendid Bergl Rooms. Take a walk through the enchanting park, stroll through the maze and stop at the Gloriette for a cup of coffee and apple strudel.


Schonbrunn Palace Copyright Chad Goddard
©Chad Goddard

Meeting Place MuseumsQuartier

The MuseumsQuartier (MQ) is one of the ten largest cultural quarters in the world. Located at the border of the old city in the former imperial stables, it combines institutions of different art fields such as the Leopold Museum with its masterworks of Austrian modern art or the mumok – Museum of Modern Art. Trendy restaurants and cafés as well as shops can also be found in this post-modern ambiance.


Museumsquartier Vienna Carmen Alonso Suarez
©Alonso Suarez

The Prater

About 250 attractions entertain you at the Vienna Prater, from a nostalgic merry-go-round to an ultra-modern roller coaster, from ghost trains to flight simulators. A ride on the famous Giant Ferris Wheel provides a phantastic view of the city from almost 200 feet up. The adjacent Green Prater with an area of six million square meters offers an ideal environment for relaxing strolls, brisk hikes, bicycle and skating trips, and much more.


The Prater Copyright tommaso_men


A visit to Vienna, the city of music, won’t be complete without a concert evening at the Musikverein. The concert hall contains the world-famous Golden Hall, in which the Wiener Philharmoniker celebrate the New Year's Concert every year - attracting a television audience of millions around the globe. The Musikverein offers wonderful concerts with eminent orchestras and conductors throughout the rest of the year as well.


Musikverein Copyright Marcella bona
©Marcella bona

Viennese markets

The city’s wonderful markets offer a typically Viennese shopping experience. This is where Vienna lives up to its legendary reputation as a melting pot of nations: Viennese humour blends with eastern European charm, and oriental flair with Mediterranean temperament. Vienna's markets are about much more than just shopping. They are the lifeblood of the districts they serve, attracting a young, creative and lively scene. This is perfectly illustrated by three Viennese institutions - the Naschmarkt, Karmelitermarkt and Brunnenmarkt.


Naschmarkt Clemens Koppensteiner
©Clemens Koppensteiner


of Vienna