Museums, Churches and Dead Hapsburgs

So, yesterday, we went downtown to check out the Vienna Museum. We love city museums: they always have such random stuff in them, and are never overwhelmingly huge.

I learned that Vienna was once Vindobona, a Roman garrison, and that it was sieged by Ottoman Turks at least twice, the last time being rescued at the last minute by the Poles, for some reason.

There were a lot of statues and other items from St. Stephen’s Church. The original was made of soft sandstone and was rapidly melting away, so many items have been replaced with replicas. The originals are now kept safely inside, out of the acid rain.

I especially liked this statue, which is a portrait of one of the cathedral’s benefactors (I think).
Some more rather graceful statues.
The first emperor Franz Josef and his equally unattractive siblings.

The museum turned out to be right next to the Karlskirche, so we checked that out. Big, Baroque, gilded: the works. And tall. Very tall.

Karlskirche. A truly BFC.
Is that a Masonic symbol?

There is a giant scaffolding inside the church that includes a “panoramic” elevator going up to the bottom of the dome. From there, you can walk up more scaffolding to the cupola at the top. I got about halfway up that set of (shaky) stairs, decided I had had enough, and went back down. My daughter went all the way to the top, though.

Imagine being an 18th century workman all the way up there on wooden scaffolding!
Stairs up to the cupola <shudder>
Running and jumping are life-endangering. Shouting is UNCOOL.

That was quite enough of that for one day. We headed back toward the tram stop, running across the Kaisergruft along the way.

This is just the weirdest thing. All the Hapsburgs, going back about 400 years, are stashed in this crypt, under a very modest Capuchin monastery in the heart of the old city. Most are in fairly simple metal coffins, but others are in elaborate, Baroque, works of art.

The Empress Maria Theresa, of course, has the biggest tomb. She had the biggest everything, pretty much. But the statues on the top are really funny. They are sitting in what looks like a bed, looking at each other in a rather startled way. It’s as if he just woke her up with his snoring!

Maria Theresa and her husband Francis of Lorraine.

It makes some sense that they are depicted in bed. They did have sixteen children together.

The second Emperor Franz Josef.
Memorial wreaths everywhere.

The last son of Franz Josef, Otto von Hapsburg, died just a couple of weeks ago at age 98. His funeral was a huge deal here, and I think I read that he is the last Hapsburg that will be buried in this vault. His heart, however was buried in Hungary. This is just so medieval, and I had no idea anyone did stuff like that anymore. But, he and the Hapsburgs of his generation were pretty much museum pieces well before they died, so I guess it is not a big surprise that they would be treated as such afterwards.

Otto von Hapsburg.
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