fivemack (fivemack) wrote,

Vienna day 2, or bits of history I didn't quite absorb

The conference ended at three, and I then spent five hours wandering around Vienna looking mostly at the outsides of museums; tomorrow will be the insides of museums, if there's any time left after the Schonbrunnenpalast and the Tiergarten: Vienna Zoo has two pandas.

The centre's nicely compact and walkable; the architectural style's very uniform, which I guess betokens a fearsome city council with terrifyingly strict planning rules, and it must also have helped that everything seems to have been built at Franz Josef I's command sometime between 1869 and 1895. There is some role for whimsy; a three-storey owl holds up one corner of the Technische Universität Wien's library, and nearby is a gorgeous Art Deco building with a dome covered in wrought gilt leaves that sparkle in the sun.

There's little sign of the war in the architecture, though there is an enormous Red Army monument inscribed in Cyrillic at the end of one major street, and one minor square has an apologetic sign in the corner with a picture of the church that stood there and was destroyed by bombs in 1945. The Parliament building is a massive marble edifice with a twenty-metre marble and gilt statue of Athena in front; somehow not a very democratic feel to it.

I hadn't realised, or at least hadn't integrated into my world-view, that in 1902 Romania was an L-shaped country like today's Croatia with Transylvania belonging to Austria-Hungary, Belgrade lay on the Serbian border, and all of today's Croatia was the sea coast of the Austro-Hungarian empire. I suppose countries in Europe last changed shape at Yalta, and I'd rather times remained boring enough that they don't change shape again in my lifetime.
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