I saw my first St Sebastian for ages today. He was in a huge painting, surrounded by tin and enamel saints, in St Peter’s Church in the old town. Actually Mirinda thought the church was ‘hideous’…though I’m certain that had nothing to do with Sebastian.
It was (probably) painted by Anton Schoonjans. He was born in Antwerp but became a court painter in Vienna in 1695. He spent the rest of his life here and may have painted this at some stage. From a very small sample, I think it shows a bit of his individual style. Anyway, who cares? It’s a St Sebastian, and that’s good enough for me…though the German’s spell it ‘Sebastien.’
Aside from the virtually unknown Mr Schoonjans, we were going to see a lot of art today but the big, world famous and chock full of amazing paintings, Kunsthistorisches Museum is closed on Mondays! I couldn’t believe it – I still can’t. It’s a seriously important international art gallery, in a major world art capital but it’s closed on Mondays. I was/am/will be flabbergasted.
Instead, we hopped across to the other side of the Maria Theresien Platz and entered the Natural History Museum instead. Fortunately neither of us realised just how many rocks there were in the first few dozen rooms, otherwise, Mirinda would have decided we weren’t interested. That was clearly a very close call.
As it turned out, we went through most of the museum with nary a grumble, though she doesn’t like museums where all the exhibits are just…well, exhibited, in rows and rows in room after room of even more rows. She finds this excessively boring.
She also doesn’t like stuffed animals very much. I pretty much agree with her on this one. So we didn’t see any. Just rocks, fossils, dinosaurs, some ice age art and a neat camera that takes your picture using the same technology as satellites.
The satellites use false colours to show greater detail. This image seems to be using the infra-red band…or so Mirinda reckons. Anyway, it looks pretty odd.
The museum itself has been open to the public since 1765 when, on the death of Kaiser Franz Stephan, Maria Theresia donated the collection to the state. The collection was then housed in a purpose built museum and available to the public twice a week.
I enjoyed it, anyway.
Rejoining the real world, we hopped on our first tram for a very short ride to the rathaus. This is the town hall and has a massive Christmas market outside and a lovely little cafe inside. Naturally we wasted a bit of time inside before heading back out.
Deciding to just take a tram to the end of the line, we jumped on a handy number 43 and sat down. It wound up in a place called Neuwaldegg. We then went for a bit of a walk up the road to see what things look like in the suburbs.
It’s all a bit hilly. That’s what things are like in the suburbs.
We caught the tram back to the Ringstrasse where we changed to a number 2 and travelled around to the Danube canal. Then began the hunt for lunch/dinner.
We wound up at a rather nice restaurant called Kornhauslturm. I had a delicious potato soup followed by deep fried chicken while Mirinda was a bit upset by her pork belly and lamb. Actually the lamb was lovely but she should have sent the pork belly back.
Oops, almost forgot…rewind a bit here…after the rathaus we went for a rather impromptu tour of the Vienna University. Mirinda was not best pleased about the lack of female heads in the long corridors and she felt the whole building was oppressive and unfriendly. I guess she won’t be teaching there, then.
After lunch/dinner we went for a bit of a slow wander back to the hotel, via St Peter’s and the cathedral, again. Again, the cathedral was inaccessible because of mass. Bloody Catholics.