Thursday, June 17, 2010

Out and About - Roman Ruins and Rüst

After several days of sightseeing in Vienna, it was time to venture a bit further afield. The first of our two day trips took us to Roman ruins, the Haydn Hall in Eisenstadt, the town of Rüst, and finally to the medieval monastery of Heiligenkreuz. This post covers the first three destinations, while the tour of Heiligenkreuz will be covered in tomorrow's post.

Vienna has its origins in the Roman town of Vindobona, and was the home of emperor Marcus Aurelius, who died there in 180 CE. To start our journey, we traveled a little ways outside the city to some Roman ruins in Carnuntum.
The day was a bit cloudy, which made for some dramatic lighting.

The remains of a archway, which would likely have been part of a defensive wall. Mim read to us from the journal of Marcus Aurelius, as well as from a Viennese philosopher from the the early 20th century.

Some more pretty scenery near the ruins.

The second stop on our tour was the Haydn Hall in the town of Eisenstadt. This town was the home of the Esterhazy family, who were one of the richest and most powerful families in Austria throughout the 18th century. They were also Haydn's patrons for about 30 years, and the Haydn Hall was where many of his works were performed. In addition to taking a tour of the hall, Dave had the pleasure of being able to sing there, as Bill had formed a small ensemble from among the tour participants.

View of the Esterhazy Palace, where the Haydn Hall is located, from across the street.

The lavishly decorated music hall. The floor, which is not visible in this picture, has an interesting history of its own. The room originally had a marble floor, as its initial purpose was hosting formal receptions, balls, and the like. However, when Haydn began using it as a performance space, he was unhappy with the acoustics, and declared that the floor was the source of the problem. He had the marble floor covered with plain wooden planks, and these planks are still in place today. It has some of the best acoustics and Europe and many CDs are recorded here.

The ensemble singing at the front of the hall.

The next stop on our tour was the small town of Rüst. The town is on the shore of the Neusiedlersee (Lake Neusiedl), a shallow inland sea, and is well-known for the storks that frequent its trees and chimneys.

A stork roosting (or is that Rüst-ing?) on a chimney. Many of the chimneys have special metal frames on top of them that help the storks build nests.

A very nice restaurant where we enjoyed lunch with Tim, Janice, Tessa, and Willem.

A view of "downtown" Rüst, featuring cobblestone streets and a church at the centre of town.
Tessa and Sam hanging out in a rope swing. The playground was right on the shore of Neusiedlersee, and you can see some of the rushes at the edge of the lake.

Coming up next: The Heiligenkreuz monastery

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