30 January 2010

Another Day in Vienna

Maria and I took Nana and Mrs. Brown into the city for a few hours of sight seeing. We rode the U-Bahn into the center, and popped up out of the ground right in front of the majestic Gothic / Romanesque Stephansdom, which dates from 1147. Below, the High Altar and the 136m. South Tower.

One of the most famous streets in Vienna is called Der Graben, literally "The Trench". The name dates to the old Roman encampment of Vindobona. A long ditch ran along the South-Western wall of the encampment, which remained until the 12th century when the Babenburg Dukes enlarged the city with Richard the Lionheart's ransom money. The ditch was filled in, leveled, and become one of the first residential streets of the new district of the city.

The Graben is now a broad pedestrian-only street, with some of the most glamorous shopping in the city. The most prominent feature of the street is the Pestsaeule (plague column), built by Emperor Leopold I in thanksgiving to God after the Great Plague of Vienna (1679) finally subsided. It was completed in 1693. The street also features a fine set of antique WC's, dating from the late 19th century.

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