October 9, 2013
One of the things that I made certain that we did while in Vienna was to visit the beautiful and expansive Tiergarten Schönbrunn, also known as the Vienna Zoo. I always enjoy visiting zoos and was especially interested in seeing this one as it is the oldest zoo in the world as well as one of the best zoos in the world, certainly in Europe.
Our hotel was located a short walk from the zoo which is located on the amazing grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace. Founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752, Tiergarten Schönbrunn is considered and regards itself as a scientifically administered zoo which sees its main purpose as a center for species conservation as well as in the fulfillment of the education mandate given to it by the legislation. The still preserved buildings of the baroque era, which have been complemented in the last years by elements of modern zoo architecture, convey still a good impression of the 18th century menagerie-buildings.
Part of the imperial summer residence of Schönbrunn, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the zoo is indeed an unforgettable experience, and one that no visitor to Vienna should miss. Along with the historic complexes of the former "menagerie" of Emperor Francis Stephen of Lorraine, visitors discover what is perhaps the world's most beautiful zoo in a unique setting where culture and nature blend. More than 700 animal species, some of them threatened, have found a home here and a chance for survival as a species.
Visiting the Schönbrunn Zoo is a tour through every continent in the fascinating world of animals. There are giant pandas, Siberian tigers, orangutans, elephants and more and you can immerse yourself in the Amazon in the walk through an Amazon river exhibit and experience the tropical rain forest.
The very first elephant ever born in captivity was born here in 1906 and the tradition continues as there are two very young and one newborn elephant there now. The zoo has survived and thrived despite suffering intense bombing during WW II and now has totally modernized from the original menagerie setting.
After visiting the zoo, Kathy and I headed downtown to visit the large outdoor market and to wander around more downtown. We walked around the central district, checking out the Parliament building and other museums, opera houses and other historically significant buildings and even threw in a little shopping at more modern stores as well.
Perhaps the most interesting thing we did was to visit the Naschmarkt which is Vienna's most popular market. Located at the Wienzeile over the Wien River it is about 1.5 kilometers long. It has existed since the 16th century when mainly milk bottles were sold. From 1793 onwards, all fruits and vegetables brought to Vienna with carts had to be sold here, while goods arriving on the Danube were sold elsewhere. Nowadays, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world, exotic herbs, cheese, baked goods such as bread, kaiser rolls, and torte, meats, and seafood.