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Vienna, Austria  
 
Schönbrunn Palace  
Emperor Leopold I gave architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach the order to design a new palace. His first draft was a very utopian one, dealing with different antique and contemporary ideals. His second draft showed a smaller and more realistic building. Construction began 1696 and after three years the first festivities were held in the newly built middle part of the palace.

Not many parts of the first palace survived the next century because every emperor added or altered a bit on the inner and outer parts of the building. By order of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the architect Nicolò Pacassi reshaped Schönbrunn Palace in a way of the style of the Rococo era. At the end of the so-called Theresianian epoch Schönbrunn Palace was a vigorous centre of Austria's empire and the imperial family.

In the 19th century one name is closely connected with Schönbrunn's, Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria. He spent the majority of his life here and died on November 21, 1916 in his sleeping room. Through the course of his reign, Schönbrunn Palace was seen as a Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) and remodelled in accordance with its history.

The palace complex includes sets of faux Roman ruins and an orangerie, staple luxuries of European palaces of its type.

Following the downfall of the monarchy in 1918 the newly founded Austrian Republic became the owner of Schönbrunn Palace and preserved, as a museum, the beautiful rooms and chambers.

After WWII and during the Allied Occupation of Austria (1945-1955) Schonbrunn Palace, which was empty at the time, was requisitioned to provide offices for both the British Delegation to the Allied Commission for Austria and for the Headquarters for the small British Military Garrison present in Vienna.

Later it was used for important events such as the meeting between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in 1961.

UNESCO catalogued Schönbrunn Palace on the World Cultural Heritage List in 1996, together with its gardens, as a remarkable Baroque ensemble and example of synthesis of the arts (Gesamtkunstwerk)..

A public maze is located in the wide Palace gardens, the entrance fee allows entrance to the maze, as well as to a set of other outdoor puzzles, including a math game and a series of fountains.

St Stephens Cathedral  
St. Stephen's Cathedral was first built as a parish church of the Diocese of Passau in 1147 and rebuilt and enlarged over the centuries, with major new work concluding in 1511, although repair and restoration have continued from the beginning to the present day.

It was previously thought that the church had been built in an open field outside the city walls; but excavations for a long-awaited heating system during 2000 revealed graves that were carbon-dated to the fourth century, 2.5 meters below the surface. The 430 skeletons were then moved to the catacombs. Thousands of others must have been buried in the ancient cemetery of this neighbourhood, starting in Roman times; and this, instead of the Ruprechtskirche, may be the oldest church site in Vienna.

The first recorded church here was founded in 1137, by Duke Leopold IV in a contract with Reginmar, Bishop of Passau. The church was dedicated to St. Stephen, the patron of the bishop's cathedral in Passau, and is oriented toward the sunrise on his feast day (26 December) in the year its construction began. The first church building was built in the Romanesque style starting in 1137 and consecrated ten years later. It was extended westward from 1230 to 1245. The present west wall and Roman towers date from 1237.

After a great fire in the city in 1258, a larger replacement structure, also Romanesque and reusing the Roman towers, was consecrated, on 23 April 1263, an anniversary highlighted each year by a rare ringing of the Pummerin bell for three minutes in the evening.

In 1304, Emperor Albert I ordered construction of a Gothic three-naved choir, further east of the church and wide enough to meet the tips of the old transepts. Work continued under his son Duke Albert II; this latest work was consecrated in 1340, on the 77th anniversary of the previous consecration. The motif of the north nave furnishings was St. Mary; the middle nave was for St. Stephen and All the Saints; and the Apostles were honoured in the south nave. This part of the present cathedral, east of the present stubby transepts, is called the Albertine Choir.

On 7 April 1359 Albert II's son Duke Rudolf IV (who is called "the founder") laid the cornerstone in the vicinity of the present south tower for a Gothic extension of Albert's choir westward to encapsulate the existing second church. That old church was then removed from the embrace of the new one in 1430 as work around it progressed.

In 1433 the south tower was finished. Vaulting of the nave began in 1446 and the nave was completed in 1474. In 1450 the foundation was laid for the north tower, but work on it was abandoned in 1511.

Although it was merely a parish church, in 1365 Rudolf IV presumptuously established a chapter of canons here, such as a cathedral would have. It was a long-held desire of Vienna, with its rising importance, to become its own diocese. Despite long-standing resistance by the bishops of Passau who did not want to lose control of the area, in 1469 Emperor Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor prevailed upon Pope Paul II to grant Vienna its own bishop (appointed then and thereafter by the emperor) and so the Stephansdom became a cathedral. (During the reign of Emperor Karl VI, the see was elevated to an archbishopric in 1722 by Pope Innocent XIII.)

St. Stephen's Cathedral was saved from intentional destruction at the hands of retreating German forces during World War II, when Captain Gerhard Klinkicht disregarded orders from the city commandant, Sepp Dietrich, to "fire a hundred shells and leave it in just debris and ashes."

One of the fires set by civilian plunderers of nearby shops when Russian troops entered the city was carried by the wind to the cathedral, severely damaging it on 12 April 1945 as the roof collapsed. Fortunately, protective brick shells had been built around the pulpit, Frederick III's tomb, and other treasures, so that damage to the most valuable artworks was minimized. Unfortunately, the beautifully carved Rollinger choir stalls from 1487 were burned. Rebuilding began immediately, with a limited reopening on 12 December 1948 and a full reopening on 23 April 1952.

 

Austrian Countryside  
Bavaria, Germany  
Herrenchiemsee Palace  
Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on the Herreninsel, an island in the middle of the Chiemsee, Bavaria's largest lake, 60 km south east of Munich.

The Neues Schloss (New Palace) is the most famous of these buildings and it is the biggest of Ludwig II of Bavaria's palaces. It is in a sense a monument to his adoration of Louis XIV. In the great hall of mirrors of the palace the ceiling is painted with 25 tableaux showing Louis XIV at his best. Very often texts call the Neues Palais Herrenchiemsee, forgetting the other smaller buildings on the island.

The Neues Palais was designed by Christian Jank, Franz Seitz, and Georg Dollman and built between 1878 and 1885. It was to have been a full scale replica of the Palace of Versailles but only the central portion was built before the king died. 50 of the 70 rooms of the palace are still unfinished.

It was never meant to be a perfectly exact replica of Versailles. At several places it surpasses it. The great hall of mirrors for instance is bigger than its equivalent in Versailles, and the dining room has a huge chandelier of Meissen porcelain, the biggest in the world. The building also benefits from nearly two centuries of technological progress. The original Versailles palace did not have a single toilet. The only running water was outside in the fountains. King Ludwig's "copy" has more modern facilities, with a toilet and a large heated bathtub.

Neuschwanstein Castle  
Neuschwanstein Castle (German: Schloß/Schloss Neuschwanstein, lit. New Swan Stone Castle; IPA pronunciation: /nɔɪˈʃvaːnʃtain/) is a 19th century Bavarian castle. Located in Germany, near Hohenschwangau and Füssen in southwest Bavaria, the castle was built by Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner, the King's inspiring muse. It is the most photographed building in Germany,[1] although photography of the interior is not permitted,[2] and is one of Germany's most popular tourist destinations.

The conception of the castle was outlined by Ludwig II in a letter to Richard Wagner, dated May 13, 1868; "It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin at Hohenschwangau near the Pollat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights' castles...the location is the most beautiful one could find, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world." The foundation stone of the building was laid September 5, 1869. Neuschwanstein was designed by Christian Jank, a theatrical set designer, rather than an architect, which says much regarding Ludwig's intentions and explains much of the fantastical nature of the resulting building. The architectural expertise, vital to such a perilously-sited building, was provided first by the Munich court architect, Eduard Riedel, and latterly by Georg Dollman and Leo Von Klenze.

The castle was originally called "New Hohenschwangau Castle" until the king's death, when it was re-named Neuschwanstein, the castle of the Swan Knight, Lohengrin, of Wagner's opera of the same name. In origin, the castle has been the Schwanstein, the seat of the knights of Schwangau, whose emblem had been the swan.

The castle comprises a gatehouse, a Bower, the Knight's House with a square tower, and a Palas, or citadel, with two towers to the Western end. The effect of the whole is highly theatrical, both externally and within.[citation needed] The king's influence is apparent throughout and he took a keen personal interest in the design and decoration. An example can be seen in his comments, or commands, regarding a mural depicting Lohengrin in the Palas; "His Majesty wishes that .. the ship be placed further from the shore, that Lohengrin's neck be less tilted, that the chain from the ship to the swan be of gold and not of roses, and finally that the style of the castle shall be kept medieval."[citation needed] The castle includes a room made to look like a cavern, as well as a secret flushing toilet in the master bedroom. The toilet flushes with water collected from an aqueduct.

The suite of rooms within the Palas contains the Throne Room followed by Ludwig's suite, followed by the Singers' Hall and by the Grotto. Throughout, the design pays homage to the operas of Richard Wagner, a reflection of Ludwig's love for Wagner's work, and perhaps for Wagner himself. However, many of the interior rooms remain undecorated; only 14 rooms were finished before Ludwig's death.[3]

Neuschwanstein was partly unfinished when, in 1886, the King was declared insane by a State Commission under Dr von Gudden and arrested at the castle. The King could hardly control himself as he asked von Gudden "how can you declare me insane? You have not yet examined me!"[4] Taken to Schloss Berg, he was found on June 13, 1886, in shallow water in Lake Starnberg, drowned, along with von Gudden, the psychiatrist who certified him. The exact circumstances of his death remain unexplained.

The castle is owned by the state of Bavaria, unlike Hohenschwangau which is owned by Franz, Duke of Bavaria. It inspired the building of another Wittelsbach castle, Schloss Ringberg. Neuschwanstein is a contemporary of the slightly older Portuguese Pena Palace in Sintra, sometimes referred to as 'the Portuguese Neuschwanstein' (ca. 1840).

Innsbruck, Austria  
The Imperial Church  
The Hofkirche (Imperial Church) in Innsbruck with its memorial for Emperor Maximilian I is the most prominent tomb memorial for an emperor in Europe. Furthermore it provides evidence of European court art for which the best artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Peter Vischer the older and Alexander Colin were employed.

Emperor Maximilian's basic idea was to construct a political memorial for the Roman-German imperial rule, which was based on the tradition of the House of Hapsburg, and was supposed to develop into a European imperial rule through Maximilian's political targets.

The completion of the memorial in its present form took more than 80 years. It was during the time of Ferdinand II that the 1584 casting of the kneeling emperor, the four virtues and the iron grille were finished and installed in the tomb.

The extensive memorial consists of a cenotaph with the figure of the kneeling emperor and 24 reliefs depicting his deeds on the sarcophagus in the middle of the nave and 28 of the planned 40 larger than life statues of his ancestors between the pillars of the nave and the beginning of the chancel.

The Renaissance organ on the right hand side of the choir wall by Jörg Ebert from Ravensburg counts as one of the five most famous organs in the world and is in addition the largest nearly undamaged organ from the Renaissance in Austria.
Lucerne, Switzerland  
Jesuitenkirche  
Jesuitenkirche is considdered to be the most beautiful baroque church of Switzerland and it dates back to the year 1666. The 2 onion-covered towers were added more than 200 myears later and Jesuitenkirche is for sure one of the most significant tourist-sights in Luzern, also for the fact that it is conveniently located close to the old city and tto Kapellbruecke. You may enter that church freely and without restrictions during the day and may take a closer look to the rich stucco-works and the altars with fine red marble.
Lake Lucerne  
Swiss Countryside  
The Matterhorn  
On the border between Switzerland and Italy, it towers over the Swiss village of Zermatt and the Italian village Breuil-Cervinia in the Val Tournanche. The mountain derives its name from the German words matt, meaning valley or meadow, and horn, which means peak.[2]

The Matterhorn has four faces, facing the four compass points, the north face overlooking the Zmutt Valley, the south face Breuil-Cervinia, the east and west faces looking towards the Gornergrat and the Dent d'Hérens, respectively, with the north and south faces meeting to form a short east-west summit ridge. The faces are steep, and only small patches of snow and ice cling to them; regular avalanches send the snow down to accumulate on the glaciers at the base of each face. The Hörnli ridge of the northeast (in the center of the view from Zermatt) is the usual climbing route.

A miniature imitation of the Matterhorn featuring a bobsled ride is one of the attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Matterhorn Bobsleds opened in 1959 and is a 1/100 scale replica (147 feet in height) of the actual mountain in the Swiss Alps, although not exact.

The individual pieces of the chocolate bar Toblerone are claimed by its maker Kraft, to be formed in the likeness of the Matterhorn.[3]

In the film How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), the Grinch resides on a mountain that several film critics noticed was modelled on the Matterhorn. [4] [5]

In a 9th-season episode of The Simpsons entitled "King of the Hill", Homer volunteers to climb Springfield's tallest mountain, the Murderhorn.

The Little Einsteins team must journey to the mountain in the episode The Mouse and The Moon. They ski down the Matterhorn, and encounter a series of bumps. They use these bumps, and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) to teach the concept of staccato. Little Mouse climbs to the tip of the Matterhorn and gives the Moon a present of shining stars.

In the HBO television series Entourage, 'Matterhorn' is the title of the studio movie project based on the Disneyland attraction that lead character Vincent Chase turns down. Ari Gold states the plot as "Die Hard at Disneyland".

The Matterhorn is depicted on the front covers of Construction Time Again (by Depeche Mode) and Felt Mountain (Goldfrapp's debut album). And a deadly climb of the Matterhorn is the subject of a unique Country Gentlemen bluegrass song.

Liechtenstein  

 

Copyright © 2010 Tim Stouse
Last modified: December 10, 2010
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