FOR SCHOOL we were randomly assigned districts to visit and write about. I got district three, which I explored last weekend and connected with so much. District three is a district of contrast. Walking along through it, I found both the ornate and the organic. Three blocks away from an 18th century palace is the off-kilter Hundertwasserhaus. The common vein running through the district is the ample greenery, lushness, and a sense of exploration.
The most prominent feature of the third district is Undeniably the Belvedere. It was a palace granted to Prince Eugene of Savoy as a reward for his victory against the Ottoman Empire. The grandeur of the outside is satisfying enough, but lurking inside the palace walls is some incredibly famous artwork.
The outside of the palace has a palette of simple colors: white walls, green topiary, blue fountains. It creates the perfect calming energy to properly appreciate the baroque decor. The topiary is trimmed to geometric perfection. Sculptures evoke movement, drama, and wonder. Mermaids fight and play in the fountains and flowers bloom in perfectly shaped beds.
Behind the ornate doors of the Belvedere is a spectrum of artwork. The famous “Kiss” by Klimt is on display. While that is the most advertised work of art in the upper Belvedere, I found many other favorites. (so sorry no photos were allowed inside) I am such a fan of every painting by Klimt. The way he combines colors in a rudimentary yet fascinating way, sometimes gilded with gold, ignites my imagination. I want to step into his world where love defeats all and flowers travel in packs. Another display I loved was a more modern work of carved busts twisting their faces into grotesque or hilarious expressions.
The lower Belvedere features art in the form of painting and architecture. The original rooms have been preserved, and are quite beautiful yet overwhelming. The Marble Gallery, the Golden Cabinet, and the Hall of Grotesques have all been decorated in baroque style. I stepped into the Golden Cabinet and was quite taken aback, it felt as though I had been placed inside an ornate jewelry box. The other major artwork in this building is the charismatic portrait of Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jaqcues Louis David. I gazed into Napoleon’s eyes, painted so calmly in an expression I have never seen mimicked in a painting before.
entrance to the Belvedere
front of the palace
As if my senses weren’t already quenched, the rest of my day consisted of an antithesis to what I had just seen.
We walked out of the Belvedere and through the Stadtpark. It had quite a Parisian vibe to me. This park is divided by the Wienfluss, offering a lovely bridge to cross over. After picking a side, we meandered along the dirt paths. Couples walked hand in hand through the shade of the trees. Children sailed wooden boats in the ponds. People lay on the grass or sat on benches enjoying the first few days of spring. The park is also filled with busts of Vienna’s finest writers, artists, and composers.
Cross back over the Wienfluss, and just down the street is the Hundertwasserhaus. I was so excited to visit it because I had done my research project on Hundertwasser. This building is one of Vienna’s most well known because of the controversy that lies with it. Friedensreich Huntertwasser created this building to oppose modern architecture. He believed that we were a part of nature, and were made to walk on uneven surfaces, drink in natural colors, and return to our roots. In the words of Huntertwasser, “the straight line is ungodly.” Approaching the outside of the house, I had to watch my footing because there are no flat floors. The building itself resembles sedimentary rock layered together in earthy tones, with multiple plants sticking out. After drinking in the spectacle that is the Huntertwasserhaus, we wrapped around to the Huntertwasser café. I ordered a huge cappuccino with soy milk and talked about the similarities between galaxies and our cells with Brent. The colorful interior of the cafe was the perfect way to sit and reflect on my day walking through this incredible city that I get to temporarily call my home.