[Into the heart of the country] A stroll through palace grounds and 900 years of history

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[Into the heart of the country] A stroll through palace grounds and 900 years of history

The Upper Belvedere located in the inner city of Vienna, along with the historic center of the city, was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 2001. Today, the palace, itself a Baroque masterpiece that dates back to the 18th century, holds around 18,600 works spanning across 900 years of history. [WIENTOURISMUS/PAUL BAUER]

The Upper Belvedere located in the inner city of Vienna, along with the historic center of the city, was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 2001. Today, the palace, itself a Baroque masterpiece that dates back to the 18th century, holds around 18,600 works spanning across 900 years of history. [WIENTOURISMUS/PAUL BAUER]

Korea-Austria summit sites rich with heritage 

It’s hard to overstate the historic value of Vienna, the city that has seen the years of early Celtic and Roman settlements, the bustling art and music scene of the Baroque period and the heyday of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
 
Designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 2001, the city’s historic center offers vast palaces and gardens, one of which holds the world's largest collection of Gustav Klimt works including “The Kiss,” the very rooms in which Sigmund Freud lived and worked and St. Michael’s Church where Mozart’s “Requiem” was first performed after his death, to name a few.
 
How can one best enjoy all things Viennese and what the city has to offer? The Korea JoongAng Daily recently sat down with an Austrian couple in Seoul who just may have some answers.
 
Austrian Ambassador to Korea Wolfgang Angerholzer, top, and his wife Susanne Angerholzer, above, speak with the Korea JoongAng Daily at the diplomatic residence in Seoul on Aug. 17. [PARK SANG-MOON]

Austrian Ambassador to Korea Wolfgang Angerholzer, top, and his wife Susanne Angerholzer, above, speak with the Korea JoongAng Daily at the diplomatic residence in Seoul on Aug. 17. [PARK SANG-MOON]

“What we like to do when we are back home is just stroll through the city center and walk on the small lanes with shops and restaurants, or walk on the Ringstrasse, the circular boulevard that encloses the inner city of Vienna,” said Wolfgang Angerholzer, ambassador of Austria to Korea, speaking with his wife, Susanne Angerholzer, at their residence in Seoul on Aug. 17. “Along the walks, you will not only see lots of trees and green spaces, but also sumptuous buildings of the 19th century.”
 
Some of the architectural wonders in the city include the Belvedere Palace, which not only houses 18,600 works of art that span from the Middle Ages to modern and contemporary times, but has also been linked with major events and individuals of the two World Wars including Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
 

And most recently, the palace took center stage during the presidential visit from Korea to Austria in June — the first in nearly 130 years of bilateral ties.
 
“The same room where the Austrian State Treaty was signed between the four allied powers and Austria in 1955, which restored the sovereignty of Austria after the Second World War, was where President Moon Jae-in was hosted during the visit,” said Ambassador Angerholzer. “After the state dinner, the two presidential couples went to the balcony that opens to the garden — the very balcony where in 1955, the five foreign ministers greeted the public. The treaty virtually ended the occupation by the allied powers after World War II, so this is really one of the birthplaces of our state and our nation: It’s a very emotional place for all Austrians.”
 
Foreign ministers and leaders of the four allied powers of WWII and Austria — John Foster Dulles of the United States, Antoine Pinay of France, Leopold Figl, foreign minister of Austria, Adolf Scharf, vice-chancellor of Austria, Vyacheslav Molotov of the Soviet Union, Julius Raab, chancellor of Austria -- show the Austrian State Treaty at a balcony of the Belvedere Palace on May 15, 1955. [VOTAVA, VIENNA]

Foreign ministers and leaders of the four allied powers of WWII and Austria — John Foster Dulles of the United States, Antoine Pinay of France, Leopold Figl, foreign minister of Austria, Adolf Scharf, vice-chancellor of Austria, Vyacheslav Molotov of the Soviet Union, Julius Raab, chancellor of Austria -- show the Austrian State Treaty at a balcony of the Belvedere Palace on May 15, 1955. [VOTAVA, VIENNA]

Korean President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook, center, take a commemorative photo with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, far right, and first lady Doris Schmidauer, far left, at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna on June 14, at the same balcony where the Austrian State Treaty was announced in 1955. [BLUE HOUSE]

Korean President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook, center, take a commemorative photo with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, far right, and first lady Doris Schmidauer, far left, at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna on June 14, at the same balcony where the Austrian State Treaty was announced in 1955. [BLUE HOUSE]

The Angerholzers were happy to relay the latest scoop on the bilateral agenda, including some Covid-19 measures in Austria for international travelers, as well as the locals’ tips on how best to enjoy the centuries of history in the building blocks of Vienna, or the vineyards on the outskirts of the city for an enchanting excursion.
 
The following are edited excerpts of the conversation.
 
 
One of the imperial palaces in the inner city, the Belvedere, is divided into the Upper Belvedere, the Lower Belvedere and the Belvedere 21 (B21). Where do you recommend a visitor start?
Wolfgang Angerholzer: If your time at the palace is limited, the first approach would be the Upper Belvedere, because the best of the collection on medieval art, baroque art and art of the 19th and early 20th centuries are concentrated there. If you have more time, then it is worthwhile to visit the Lower Belvedere, but you have to go through the garden, and that will take nearly three quarters of an hour — a very beautiful walk nonetheless. In the Lower Belvedere you will see an additional collection of medieval and baroque art. The B21 is the 20th century architecture, a spacious, luminous steel and glass construction which allows very large exhibitions of contemporary art.
 
 
One of the most viewed works at the Belvedere must be “The Kiss” by Klimt. How should we understand Klimt in the greater scheme of Austrian art history? 
Susanne Angerholzer: Klimt’s works mark a change in the Austrian art scene and history — his works look unlike anything we had before that time. So this was when Austrian art took a step towards a new period and a new way of presenting itself. There is a house in Vienna where Klimt lived that is also open to visitors.
″The Kiss″ by Gustav Klimt [BELVEDERE, VIENNA]

″The Kiss″ by Gustav Klimt [BELVEDERE, VIENNA]

 
The Belvedere also has an interesting history with Archduke Ferdinand. Can you tell us more?
Wolfgang: The Upper Belvedere became the residence of Archduke Ferdinand in 1896, as he was the heir to the throne. He and his family resided at the palace. The archduke was assassinated in 1914 in Sarajevo. The car in which he was assassinated can be seen in the Museum of Military History, with the bullet holes still visible, located not far from the Belvedere.
 
President Moon and his delegation were also hosted at Schonbrunn Palace, another Unesco World Heritage site. What are your tips to best enjoy a visit to that palace?
Wolfgang: To give a brief historic background to the palace: Schonbrunn was designed in a huge dimension, it was meant to rival Versailles. Maria Theresia, when she came to power in 1740, chose Schonbrunn as her residence and had it enlarged. Following her, all Habsburg emperors continued to use the palace. So it captures the splendor of the Habsburg rule but also its last moments: It was also at that palace where Emperor Karl I in 1918 signed a declaration to renounce all participation in government activity.

The palace grounds are quite vast, they hold the oldest functioning zoo in the world, as well as a green house, a desert house and a palace theater — a baroque jewel really, in which some of the Mozart operas were performed.
The Schonbrunn Palace grounds, showing the Gloriette situated afar. [WIENTOURISMUS/PETER RIGAUD]

The Schonbrunn Palace grounds, showing the Gloriette situated afar. [WIENTOURISMUS/PETER RIGAUD]

 
Susanne: When the weather is good, you will have a beautiful view of the Gloriette, where you can walk up to after a stroll through the gardens. There is a coffee shop there where you can sit and enjoy a fantastic view of the palace and Vienna, and take in all of the splendor of your surroundings. There is also a Christmas market that opens in front of the palace every year if you are visiting in December.
 
The palace also has a collection of court uniforms, where a war robe of a Korean prince is kept. Can you tell us more?
Wolfgang: The robe is kept at Schonbrunn Palace because it belongs to its collection of court uniforms. We know that it came into the collection in 1894 when it was handed over to the collection by Emperor Franz Joseph I. Based on these dates we may assume that it was a gift of a Korean king of the Joseon Dynasty to the emperor on the occasion of the signing of a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation in 1892.
 
The war robe of a prince gifted from Korea to Austria during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). [EMBASSY OF AUSTRIA IN KOREA]

The war robe of a prince gifted from Korea to Austria during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). [EMBASSY OF AUSTRIA IN KOREA]



Tell us about some of the latest Covid-19 measures in Vienna that international visitors should know.
Wolfgang: In 2019, we had nearly a quarter of a million visitors from Korea, before the Covid crisis. With the vaccination campaign moving on, we hope that next year, we will see Korean tourists return in big numbers, as they are highly appreciated in Austria. Over the years we have noticed that more Korean tourists are staying in Austria longer, which is a good sign. Right now, Koreans can travel to Austria, but they need to present a certificate that they are vaccinated, or a record that shows that they have recovered from infection, or a negative PCR test result.
 


What are some activities that visitors can try in the city only in September?
Wolfgang: In September, when wine is produced, you get the fresh grape juice, which is very rich and delicious. It’s only available at this time around.
Susanne: There is also a wine produced at this time called the sturm, which is at a stage where the fermentation is still on the way, so it’s a little sweet but very refreshing. This one is also available only in September or October.
Wolfgang: Vienna is the only capital in the world with significant wine production, we have quite a number of vineyards in the city that you can visit. Some of them will have restaurants that serve local food — I recommend a visit to these.
 
It’s been slightly over a year since you came to Korea. How have your experiences been, visiting heritage sites in the country?
Susanne: Last winter, we visited the Jongmyo Shrine, which is a quiet, elegant place in the middle of a bustling city. It’s nestled in a lovely way that you enter a completely different world once you’re in the shrine’s area. I went back once more in spring, when nature was just waking up, and it was so beautiful, quite spiritual.
 
The Jongmyo Shrine in central Seoul, a Unesco World Heritage site since 1995. The shrine was where memorial services were performed for the deceased kings. [CULTURAL HERITAGE ADMINISTRATION]

The Jongmyo Shrine in central Seoul, a Unesco World Heritage site since 1995. The shrine was where memorial services were performed for the deceased kings. [CULTURAL HERITAGE ADMINISTRATION]



What lies ahead in the bilateral agenda for Austria and Korea?
Wolfgang: The exchange on the political level this year has exemplified that there is an enormously high degree of appreciation [on the Austrian side] for the management of the coronavirus crisis by the Korean authorities. Also we see that there is a lot of appreciation on the Korean side for Austria being a high-tech country. Recently in Korea an Austrian company has designed and provided a selection mechanism for a biogas production plant in Pyeongtaek. The two countries are looking to enhance our strategic partnership, to look for ways to cooperate more intensely, especially in the field of science, education, youth exchange and green technology.
 
 
Travel tips
Best time to visit: September or October, if you wish to try to the natural grape juice or the sturm, which can be tasted across vineyards in Vienna only this time around.  
What to eat in Vienna: The tafelspitz, classic Viennese simmered beef served with spinach, potatoes, horse radish and more. Another typical Viennese experience would be to try the sausages in the street stalls, served on bread, with your choice of mustard, pickles and other condiments.  
Movies to watch before a trip: “Klimt” (2006) by John Malkovich and “Amadeus” (1984) by Milos Forman.
Music to listen to: Apart from Haydn, Mozart and Schubert, try “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss, which was composed in Vienna.  

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BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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