Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Magic of Vienna by Lynn Crain

I'd like to welcome guest author, Lynn Crain, to History Undressed! She's written a lovely post today for us on Vienna.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Leave a comment for your chance to win a $20 Amazon GiftCard and a copy of Lynn's new tale, A LOVER FOR RACHEL.

The Magic of Vienna

by Lynn Crain 

            In May of this year, my husband and I said goodbye to our house, family and everything I have ever known to run away from home to Vienna, Austria. The DH had received a job offer that we couldn’t refuse, so he took it. In short order, much faster than we expected, we were off on the adventure of a lifetime. Our children were grown and this was some needed ‘us’ time was how the DH presented it. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about moving at first but I understood it. I knew this was a fantastic opportunity to live somewhere different and visit all those places I thought about when I was a kid, first in rural Ohio then Nevada. I knew it would be great for my husband’s career.

            One thing I want to say to those who envy me, be careful what you wish for but that would be a lie because it’s all a matter of perspective. When we are young, everything looks cool because it’s different from what we have or where we are. When we’re older, we look at our lives in a new light, wondering what’s the economic impact. My thought process went immediately to my writing and how I could make it better. The historical aspect of this city boggles my mind. The whole town oozes history in more ways than I can count. Let’s take a look at the illustrious history, both good and bad, that make up Vienna. I will only touch upon those areas that I have experienced myself as it is much too much to get into one tiny blog post. At the end, I will give a list of websites that will give you even more detail.

            Vienna’s history started when the Romans decided to place a military camp in the centre of the present day city. This was during the first century and there are various places today where that occupation can still be seen. Places like Michaelerplatz and Stubentor still hold Roman wall remnants. For those willing to go further afield, then a trip to Carnuntum approximately 25 kilometers outside the city is the place to be. There one can experience a Roman amphitheater that rivals the Coliseum. Just recently, the biggest gladiatorial school was located within that area. Here are a few pictures of our day trip to the ruins. We plan to go back many, many times.

The Ruins at Carnuntum

The Ancient Cobbles of a Roman Road

            The early medieval streets and houses followed the former Roman walls and it is thought that at least some of the ancient fortifications were used by the people who settled the area. The first documented mention of Vienna is from 881 when a battle called apud Weniam was fought against the Hungarians. It isn’t clear whether it was the city itself or the river in the passage. Coins from the 6th century have been found near the city center, which may indicate an area for trade. During that time the Lombards controlled the area followed by the Slavs and Avars. There is a mention of a battle against the Magyars in Wenia in 881 that is thought to be another mention of Vienna. The city proper didn’t start to develop more towards the Middle Ages.

            In 976, Margraviate of Ostarrîchi was given to the Babenburg family or basically, a woman was married off to Leopold I who then gained control of the area known as the Eastern March. He received this as a reward for his fidelity to Otto II during the Bavarian rising of 976 and during his time extended it even more at the expense of the Hungarians. The word Margraviate is a heredity title give to those noblemen and women responsible for the border provinces of a kingdom. The history of this group is intense and convoluted and even after I’ve read it five times, it’s hard to keep straight.

            An important time of note is around the Third Crusade. King Richard the Lionheart was discovered by Duke Leopold V, two days before Christmas 1192 in Erdberg, near Vienna. Duke Leopold asked an enormous ransom at the time of 50,000 Silver Marks. With this money, a mint was created and the city constructed walls around the area. Stubentor, which I mentioned above, is one area that those walls can be seen as some parts were built upon the even older Roman walls. It’s interesting to mention that today, I can ride a train to Erdberg as it is a major stop on one of the train lines.

            The time of the Hapsburgs started in 1278 with Rudolph the first and didn’t end until Emperor Franz Joseph the first on his death in 1916, whose 68-year reign was one of Austria’s longest. Franz Joseph shaped the image of Austrian imperial rule and under him Vienna became one of Europe’s most important metropolises of its day. He made the city the center of a multi-national state that extended from Hungary to northern Italy and deep into southern Europe. Everything I see out my flat window has his touch stamped on it along with the history that made his time possible. My building was built during the height of his rule in 1868.

            During Franz Joseph’s reign, Johann Strauss became the King of Waltz and Sigmund Freud founded the psychoanalytical school of psychology. Around 1900, Art Nouveau peaked with such artists as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele as well as the famed architects of Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos. The Ringstrasse was built and museums dotted the landscape. But Austria was also a ticking time bomb with ethnic tensions, making the monarchy an accident waiting to happen. The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 14 in Sarajevo marked the beginning of World War I.

            Standing next to the desk where Emperor Franz Joseph signed the declaration of war was an eerie feeling to say the least. It happened at his hunting lodge known as Kaiservilla, where many events of his life had played out: falling in love, children, the death of his beloved Sisi. It is near Salzburg in a little town called Bad Ischl and is well worth visiting if you ever have a chance. Here are a few pictures then we’ll return to Vienna proper.

 Mountains behind Kaiservilla

The back of Kaiservilla

 The whole of Kaiservilla

Under the trees at the top of the ridge behind Kaiservilla

          In 1916 during the war, Franz Joseph dies. In 1918 after the war was over, the first Republic of Austria was established ending the 640-year-old rule of the Habsburg dynasty. It was unfortunate that the young republic suffered massive inflation, unemployment and near economic collapse. In 1933, the weak coalition government between the Christian-Social and the Social-Democratic parties gave way to Engelbert Dollfuss becoming Chancellor in 1932 of a right-wing government. In 1934, he declared martial law to protect Austria from Hitler but he was killed that same year in July thus paving the way for Germany to take over the country.

           Not much is said by the Austrians about their part in World War II but there are quite a few memorials and museums that bare witness to what happened here and elsewhere in Europe. It took Austria ten years to get back to where they were in 1937. In May 1955, they declared permanent neutrality and became a nerve center between East and West during the time of the Iron Curtain. Austria has been granting asylum to refugees since 1956 and is the host country to many international organizations, such as the UN and the CTBTO, which my husband work for. In 1995, Austria became a member of the European Union and remains so today.

            I live across the street from the Palace Belvedere and the Palace Schwartenberg. Belevedere was once a summer home for the Habsburgs and in particular Prince Eugene. I’m still trying to understand where Palace Schwartenberg figures into all of this but I do know there’s a house on the grounds for rent. We’re actually thinking about checking it out as we love the area. :-) Now the street I live on is named after the Prince and is called Prince Eugen Strasse. That’s just the start of everything: there’s the Hofburg, Schonnbrunn, Carnuntum which is the Roman ruin I mentioned above and deserves more than a day, Stephensplatz, Karlsplatz and more churches like them that you wouldn’t believe. Recently, I saw a Templar church they’ve uncovered under Stephensplatz. I’ve noted that early man lived here as did the Celts. Just reading Wikipedia to get the overview can be overwhelming...but...think of the opportunity for historicals, for contemporaries or for anything a writer can think up. Here’s a few more pictures to show you what I mean.

            While this is the view out my office window, I should make note that not only do I see the guard quarters for Belvedere as well as part of the grounds, but history. If I look a little harder, I’m sure I can see the Emperors and Empresses of a day gone by, of kings and queens and their children as they play on the grounds surrounding the palaces.

Out My Office Window

 Palace Schwartzenberg

            Here’s some pictures of one of my favorite places to visit, Schönbrunn, the palace to rival Versailles.

One of the many gardens

The Neptune Fountain

The summerhouse

Rear view and gardens of Schönbrunn

            Then there’s the museums. Here’s some of my favorites.

The Crown Jewels

The Complete Crown Jewels

  The Egyptian Glyphs

The Sarcophagus

More Egyptian Artifacts

Even more!

            These pictures don’t even begin to do the place justice. I have only touched on the bare minimum of the history I see and feel and touch daily. Sometimes the senses can be overwhelmed by it as I try to picture what it used to be like. I promise to bring you more and more of the historical perspective on living in Vienna, Austria. Yes, this place has plenty for a writer to learn, plenty for me to figure out and understand. Even though the perspective has changed a lot from when I was younger, living the fairy tale can and does have its own perks.

            For more about Austria, visit my blog, A Writer In Vienna, as I try to give all my impressions for living in a foreign country. Some days I revisit history, others I might be taking in a big ride or even a wild ride as my husband and I take to the streets driving here for the first time. Life is always interesting! Don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you need any information concerning the area. If you’re going to be in my neck of the woods, please let me know. I just love visitors!

            You can find me at twitter (oddlynn3) or Facebook (oddlynn3) as well as my website,  and regular blog. Please excuse the dust on both the website and blog as they are currently being revamped. Be ready for their unveiling in Spring 2012. Look for my new short, A Lover for Rachel, from Shooting Star Books for only $0.99 at all ebook outlets. I’ve included the cover art...who doesn’t love a Jimmy cover?

            See you all next time!


Here’s a list to get you started with Vienna. It is by no means inclusive as there are many, many interesting books and takes on life here and how it all began. These are just a few that I used while creating this blog posting.



Anonymous said...

Lynn, What wonderful information, photos and links to find even more! Italy is the next on my list of countries to visit. England, 5 years ago, the Scotland and Wales in 2011 and I'm going to aim for Italia before 2015.

Congratulations on the new book - love the cover!

Na said...

It's always hard to say goodbye to a home, especially when the destination is so different. Vienna looks beautiful and I love that there are so many historical remnants still present. If I found myself walking on those cobbles I would imagine how centuries before others have also walked on it. There are plenty of mountains surrounding my place and they are beautiful but I would like to see those mountains behind Kaiservilla in person myself.

Thank you for sharing the magic of Vienna with us.


Fedora said...

Lynn, I've been so enjoying your posts sharing some of the beauty of your new home! Moving to another country presents so many challenges and also so much new wonder and adventure! I'm glad you're having a chance to explore more of this lovely world we share!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Miriam Newman said...

This is amazing, Lynn. Thanks for sharing with us.

Karen said...

Hi Lynn, Thanks for taking the time to share a slice of Vienna. Your comment of standing next to Franz Joseph's desk where he signed the declaration of war gave me a shiver. Your up-close and personal accounts of places in Vienna complete with photos was a delight to my senses. Let us know if you end up renting that place on the palace grounds.

Karen said...

Just noticed that was Jimmy on your book cover! He's such a talented (HOT) photo director. Look at that slice of amber light between them and across his gorgeous back, beautiful depth. Congratulations on your new short.

Lynn Crain said...

Thanks, Polly, I'm glad you liked the post and the pictures. We went to Italy over the Christmas holidays when our youngest was here.

I've been to Scotland twice and plan to get back again this summer in August if all goes well. Depends upon how I want to go. I'm thinking about the chunnel train. Not sure yet as we have to take our pup with us.

Have some wonderful travels.


Lynn Crain said...


I so understand what you're saying about walking down the streets here. There are many times when I remember that I saw this or that in a historical picture.

Thanks for stopping by!


Lynn Crain said...


You're right about those challenges. LOL! Glad you love the posts and thanks for dropping by!


Lynn Crain said...

You are so welcome, Miriam. I enjoying sharing what I'm seeing with everyone.

Thanks for stopping by!


Lynn Crain said...


Standing by that desk was an eerie feeling for me as well. There's so much history in that one place it's amazing!

Believe me, I'll tell everyone if and when we rent that place on the palace grounds! I was so surprised it's still open which means they probably want a fortune for it. LOL!

Thanks for stopping by!


Lynn Crain said...


I so love Jimmy. He's such a nice man and really talented. I have him on quite a few of my upcoming covers of my indie work. I can't wait for all of those to see the light of day.

Thanks again for stopping by!


Rosemary Gemmell said...

What great information on the history of the Vienna, Lynn - I knew some of the more recent details but not so far back. We were there a few years ago (I live in Scotland) and loved it, including the Schonbrunn Palace.

textilehistorIE said...

A lovely post, with gorgeous photos. Thanks!