Capturing the best of Vienna through a lens requires perspective rather than tough search. After all, Wien is one of Europe’s most elegant cities, boasting a historic center that is a UNESCO World Heritage. Here are seven spots at both well known attractions and insider places that will add a unique angle to a Vienna photo and video story.
Thanks to a liberal policy, officials at Austria’s Ministry of Justice share their canteen and mind blowing roof terrace with the general public. Housed just off Ringstrasse boulevard, Justizcafé offers an eye level view of the most ornate domes, towers and rooftops: from St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Hofburg, to the Church of St. Peter, the Giant Ferris Wheel, Vienna’s City Hall and Votiv Church to the adjacent Austrian Parliament’s spectacular rooftop decorations. By the way, the canteen’s food is absolutely acceptable.
While there is no shortage of inspiring little squares in Wien, Franziskanerplatz is probably the most photogenic. The historic fountain builds itself up against the backdrop of a Franciscan monastery, two restaurants, and a vintage signboard shop. However, the real star of the scene is Kleines Café, the tiny cafe that has been magnetising locals and tourists for decades.
Zum Schwarzen Kameel
Which experiential travel enthusiast doesn’t dream of capturing a quirky local in his or her ‘natural habitat’? Clearly, most residents will act embarrassed when asked to pose because of their characterful looks. And quite a few shop ladies would miraculously disappear in a mouse hole at the sight of a camera lens pointing at them. Not so at bar, deli and restaurant Zum Schwarzen Kameel. At this renowned Art Nouveau eatery close to Meinl am Graben, some of Vienna’s most delicious open sandwiches are handed over by a particularly welcoming, naturally self confident and quirky member of staff. Besides, the sandwiches add a real splash of colour and texture.
Schonbrunn Palace through Neptune Fountain
Endless numbers of visitors have photographed Vienna’s number one tourist attraction. While inside photography is not allowed finding the most intriguing outside perspective gets paramount for the visually minded. Adding some dynamics to enliven the palace’s serene architecture can help. Head for the sumptuous Neptune fountain in the palace gardens at the foot of the Gloriette hill. Getting just behind the baroque masterpiece’s waterfall allows to not only capture Schonbrunn’s wonderful rear facade through dancing splashes of water but sometimes to incorporate delicately sculpted animals.
Which spot offers the best views of the Danube in Vienna? Most insiders will say the Danube Tower (Donauturm). Indeed, at 150 metres the viewing platform gives way to an unparalleled 360 degree view of the main Danube, the New Danube, Danube Island and the tranquil arm of the Old Danube. Even though Donauturm is located in the outskirts of Vienna it is easily reachable by metro and local bus, or by hop on hop off bus.
Art and architecture photography derives much of its magic through bringing dead things to life. In that sense, Vienna’s dozens of ornate baroque fountains make that task fairly easy. Most of them offer a playground to a rich diversity of gods and heroes, nymphs and angels, mythical animals and lush plants. The two Michaeler fountains framing the Imperial Palace’s entrance at Michaeler square are top examples. To add drama and mystery take photographs at night, when the monuments’ lighting casts sharp shadows.
Meinl am Graben deli
Getting an undisturbed view of bustling Graben boulevard in its entirety isn’t easy, as much as you stand on your toes. Instead, head for local gourmet deli and restaurant Meinl am Graben. The multi storey building is actually located at perpendicular Kohlmarkt. From the deli and restaurant on the first floor a camera lens will capture the elegant facades and shops on both sides while focusing on the pedestrian bustle and huge baroque pestilence column in the back. The annual Christmas lightings at Graben and Kohlmarkt add extra magic at night.
Barbara Grll-Cao is the Founder of Vienna Unwrapped.
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