Friday, September 20, 2013

Incantato Welcomes You to the City of Haydn: Eisenstadt

Eisenstadt is the capital of Burgenland, the smallest of Austria's nine provinces. It is the former residence of the Esterhazy princes and home to their residence, the Esterhazy Palace, which is the city's major attraction. Officially labeled as the City of Haydn, the famous Austrian composer Joseph Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterhazy family and lived and worked as Prince Esterhazy's Kapellmeister (music director) in Eisenstadt for over 40 years. Many of his works were composed and premiered in Eisenstadt and Esterhazy Palace. When Haydn was promoted conductor in 1766, he bought a house in Eisenstadt and lived there with his wife until 1778. The house can still be viewed today, along with some original artifacts from Haydn's time. Today, the composer's white marble tomb can be seen in the Bergkirche, Haydn Church, also in Eisenstadt. 

Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt is a stunning baroque palace and presents a fascinating view of the life of splendor once lived at the court of the Princes Esterhazy. Built in the 13th century, the palace was continually rebuilt and extended over the years. It came into the hands of the Esterhazy family in 1649 was the main residence for the family for 300 years. It was initially restored and remodeled in Baroque between 1663 and 1672. This reconstruction resulted in a largely new building and gave the palace the appearance still seen today in the courtyard and main facade. The Haydnsaal was originally a large multi-purpose festival and banquet room. Today, it and the palace are still a hub for cultural events, festivals and concerts regularly organized here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Incantato Favorite: Klagenfurt, Austria

Situated on the eastern shore of the Woerther See, Austria's warmest lake, Klagenfurt is the capital of Austria's southern-most lake of Carinthia. It was founded in the 12th century as an important trade center and transport hub. In 1544 almost the entire city was destroyed by a fire. Reconstruction was understaken mainly by Italian architects, which is one of the reasons Klagenfurt is reminiscent of an Italian town and style. In the 16th century, the city was the center of the Counter-Reformation. During this time, Klagenfurt was extended and partially rebuilt, although most of its historic buildings date back to earlier eras. 
There are many sights to see in Carinthia's capital, such as:
Dom St. Peter und St. Paul
The Cathedral was originally built as a Protestant Church in 1578, however, it was taken over by the Jesuits in 1604 and elevated to the rank of cathedral in 1787, after it had been completely rebuilt in 1727. Its ornate high altar dates back to 1752. 
Altes Rathaus
One of the most attractive sights Klagenfurt has to offer is the 17th century former town hall with its galleried courtyard. It was the first seat of the Klagenfurt town authorities and today  is used as a popular music venue.
Dragon Fountain
Located at the New Square, there is a fountain with a mythical dragon sculpture that was created in 1593. Over time, it has become not only a town symbol, but has also made its way into the Klagenfurt coat of arms. 
Stadtpfarrkirche St. Egid
This Baroque Chruch was built on the site of an earlier church that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692. Its spire rises up 299 feet!
This museum houses a collection of early sacred art objects, among other religious artifacts. Its most famous exhibition piece is a 12th century stained-glass panel of Mary Magdalene, which is believed to be the oldest of its kind in Austria. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

WRA Austria and Italy Tour Route

The WRA travelers will being their journey in Vienna (A), then continue on to Eisenstadt (B), where they will visit Esterhazy Palace. They then go to Goettweig (C), and continue their journey along the Danube until they arrive in Salzburg (D). Afterward, the group travels south to Carinthia and its capital city of Klagenfurt (E). Finally, they leave Austria and journey into Italy, where they stop in Pauda (F), before ending in Venice (G). 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

WRA Travelers' Flight Schedule

Departure for Europe
Friday, March 14, 2014
United Airlines flight UA1417 leaves Cleveland (CLE) for Newark (EWR) at 11:15 am, arrival is at 12:48 pm local time.
The group then connects from Newark (EWR) at 5:45 pm with Lufthansa flight LH409 to Dusseldorf, Germany, with an arrival time of 6:10 am on the next day (Saturday, March 15, 2014).
From Dusseldorf (DUS), the group connects at 7:15 am with Lufthansa flight LH3088 to Vienna (VIE), Austria, with an arrival time of 8:50 am on the same day.

Return to the US
Monday, March 24, 2014
Lufthansa flight LH325 departs Venice (VCE), Italy, at 10:55 am for Frankfurt (FRA), Germany, to arrive at 12:30 pm local time. 
The group then connects from Frankfurt (FRA) at 1:35 pm with Lufthansa flight LH402 to Newark (EWR), with an arrival time of 5:10 pm local time.
From Newark (EWR), the group connects at 8:15 pm with United Airlines UA1464 to Cleveland (CLE), with an arrival time of 9:53 pm local time on the same day. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Incantato Welcomes You to Venice

Venice is one of the few cities in the world that can be truly described as unique. Surviving against all odds on a series of low mud banks in the Adriatic Sea, this northeastern Italian city has been called the gateway to the Orient.
Venice became an independent Byzantine providence in the 10th century and in 1204 it gained significant wealth and power through the trading routes between the East and the West. During the Middle Ages, the city was able to expand its influence throughout the Mediterranean all the way to present-day Istanbul. This immense wealth was celebrated in the art and architecture around the city that can still be seen today. 
The riches of St. Mark's alone demonstrate Venice's great position in the world from the 12th to the 14th centuries. However, the city finally fell to Napoleon in 1797 and joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.
In the last 200 years of Venice's history, little has been altered as so many of the historical sights are still admired today. 
One of the most famous sights is the Rialto Bridge, which offers beautiful views of the Canal Grande and marks the heart of the city. This area was one of the first in Venice to be inhabited and it remains one of the city's busiest and most bustling areas. Completed in 1591, this bridge was the only means of crosse the Grand Canal until 1854, when the Accademia bridge was built. 
Described by Napoleon as the most elegant drawing room in Europe, the other favorite in Venice is the Piazzo San Marco with two of the city's most important historic sights: the Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale. Founded in the 9th century, the Palazzo once served as the home to Venice's rulers and to the offices of State. The Basilica, once the doge's private chapel, was built on a Greek cross plan and crowned with five massive domes. Today, it is a magnificent example of an Eastern and Western architectural blend. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Incantato introduces You to Carinthia

Austria consists of nine provinces, the southern-most of which is Carinthia. Bordered by Slovenia and Italy in the south, Carinthia is known for the beauty of its landscape and pleasant climate due to its southern location. Also known as the lake district, the province boasts more than 200 warm swimming lakes pure enough to drink. Main towns include its capital, Klagenfurt, which was founded in the 12th century and is situated along the picturesque Woerther See, the warmest lake in the region. Additionally, international music festivals, architecture, painting, theatre and the Carinthian choirs all contribute in making this province a true cultural stage. One of the many musical festivals is known as the Carinthian Summer, which has been held every year since 1969. This festival for new music places an emphasis on the dialogue between composers, performers and audiences as a vital factor, and a central element of the festival is the performance of a church opera. Performances are held in various venues, one of which is the Ossiach Abbey. Built directly on the banks of Lake Ossiach, this abbey dates back to the 11th century and was furnished in the Baroque period.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Incantato Tips: Mozart's residences in Austria

Mozart's Birthplace, Salzburg
For 26 years, from 1747 to 1773, the Mozart family lived on the third floor of the Hagenauer House. On January 27, 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born here. Even though the apartment has been converted into the most-visited museum in Austria, it still contains original rooms and memorabilia from the Mozart family. Aside from documents, most of the portraits painted during Mozart's lifetime are also still here, including the unfinished oil painting "Mozart at the Piano" painted in 1789. Other exhibits include Mozart's child violin, his concert violin, his clavichord, the harpsichord, as well as letters from the Mozart family.

Mozart's Residence, Salzburg
In 1773, the Mozart family moved to a different house in Salzburg because it was more spacious. W. A. Mozart lived here until 1781, when he left to live in Vienna. This residence, which has also been converted into a museum, features original documents and portraits documenting the history of the house and the Mozart family. It was here that Mozart's compositions during the Salzburg years were written. Special attractions include Mozart's original fortepiano and the famous family portrait in the "Dance-Master's Salon".

Mozart House, Vienna 
Of the dozen different addresses Mozart lived at during his time in Vienna, only one has remained to this day. Domgasse 5, the apartment's street address, is where Mozart lived longer than anywhere else in Austria's capital, namely from 1784 to 1787. It was a splendid residence with four large rooms, two small ones, and a kitchen that today display the life and works of the famous composer. During his time at Domgasse 5, Mozart was a celebrated composer and enjoyed a high point in his creativity and popularity. It was here that he wrote some of his best compositions, including what is perhaps his most popular opera, The Marriage of Figaro

Monday, August 12, 2013

Salzburg: an Incantato Favorite

The world today refers to Salzburg′s most famous son as "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart". In fact, his name was officially "Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart" with "Amadeus" being a Latinised variation of "Theophilus". Mozart himself signed in his later years as "Wolfgang Amade", and referred to himself as "Amadeus" only when he was joking.His family and friends called him simply "Wolfgang" or in the abbreviated way "Wolferl". 

Salzburg: a Baroque snapshot

The Zauberflötenhäuschen ("Magic flute house")
The so-called Zauberflötenhäuschen is placed in the gardens of the Mozarteum Foundation, more precisely in the "Bastionsgarten". Mozart wrote at least parts of the Zauberflöte, "The Magic Flute" in this little hut. Originally, it was situated in a Garden next to the "Freihaustheater" or "Theater auf der Wieden" theatre in Vienna. The story goes, that libretto-author Emanuel Schikaneder locked Mozart into the Zauberflötenhäuschen to ensure that they would meet their deadlines. Other stories talk about Mozart meeting singers in the Zauberflötenhäuschen to practice parts of the opera. After the original gardens in Vienna were sold, the duke Fürst Starhemberg donated the Zauberflötenhäuschen to the International Mozart Foundation in 1873. It was moved to Salzburg and re-erected in the Salzburg gnome garden by Mirabell castle. From there it was moved to the Kapuzinerberg mountain in 1877, where it remained until it was damaged by bombs in WWII. After the war, the Zauberflötenhäuschen was renovated and moved once again, this time to its current location in the Schwarzstraße. In July and August it can be visited with a guided tour through the Mozarteum art university.

Salzburger Stierwascher
During the period of the peasant′s riots of 1525, the city of Salzburg was under a siege. Soon the city′s population was running short of food, and fear spread when only a single bull was left within the mighty city walls. Then the commander of the defending troops is said to have had an idea: he ordered to paint the naturally brown bull with white stain and lead it up and down the city walls on display to the enemy. The next day, they would wash the bull, paint it in black and do the same thing again. The next day, they would paint the bull red, then spotted, and so on. In the end, the enemy thought that the people of Salzburg were slaughtering a bull every day, expecting that the live stocks were still large enough to feed the troops and people in the city for a very long time. Eventually, the troops that kept Salzburg under siege withdrew, leaving Salzburg to freedom. Under cheer and laughter, the bull was led to the Salzach river and washed until he appeared again in his natural brown. Ever since then, people from Salzburg are called "Stierwascher" - bull washers.

Fun facts: The tomb of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich
Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau was the first Prince Archbishop of Salzburg who shaped the city during its Baroque prime. When his nemesis and successor Markus Sittikus forced him out of his office and even arrested Wolf Dietrich in the Hohensalzburg Fortress, did Sittikus best to make the people of Salzburg forget about von Raitenau. Although somewhat speculative, it can be estimated that this is the reason why Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau is buried at St. Sebastian Cemetery. As a Prince Archbishop, he should have been buried in the crypt of the Salzburg Dom Cathedral. He ended up outside the town centre without much honour. Legend has it, that Wolf Dietrich was buried upright, sitting in a chairsurrounded by blueprints and sketches to plan the construction of even more buildings in his beloved Salzburg. It is said that he will sit like that until Doomsday, when he will stand up and ask the Lord for mercy for himself and his enemies.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Incantato Welcomes You to the Musical City of Vienna

  • Vienna, situated along the Danube River, is the largest city as well as the capital of Austria. Not only that, but Vienna is also a Federal province of Austria.
  • It has the 3rd highest quality of living in the European Union.
  • The major religion is Christianity. The main language spoken in Austria is German. Surprisingly the voting age is only 16 years old.
  • Vienna is the only city-state in Austria, which is a federal republic.
  • Vienna is divided into 23 districts. The city center in Vienna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Vienna is known worldwide as the city of music and is home to the great music hall with excellent acoustics.
  • The Museumsquartier, which is one of the largest cultural complexes in the world, is in the heart of Vienna.
  • World famous classical composers, including Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert, and Brahms, have all lived and performed in Vienna.
  • Vienna is home to the setting of Graham Greene's novel ‘The Third Man’ that is an actual city casting melancholy and telling the story of the Cold War.
  • Vienna is considered as a city of cultural heritage. It has been home to various great artists such as Gustav Klimt, Sigmund Freud, and Arthur Schnitzler
  • Tiergarten Schönbrunn, which is world’s oldest zoological garden,  was founded in 1752
  • The largest emerald of the world, which is of a whopping 2860 carat, is displayed in the Imperial Treasury in Vienna.
  • The highest waterfall in Europe is Kriml Falls, which is close to Vienna. The water falls 1,250 feet.
  • One of the few of its kind and one of the oldest ferris wheels in the world is in Vienna. It is situated in a large amusement park called the Prater, one of Vienna's most popular attractions. It has 15 gondolas, which offer a scenic view of Vienna, and is probably one of the city's most familiar sights.
  • Europe’s second largest cemetery is situated in Vienna, which is called Zentralfriedhof and has a total size of 2.5 square kilometers/one square mile.
  • Zentralfriedhof also has over 2.5 million tombs, which is almost double than the city’s live population. It also has tombs of some of the most famous personalities of the world such as Beethoven, Brahms, Gluck, Schubert, Schoenberg, and Strauss.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eat as the locals do: Austria

Traditional Austrian cuisine is composed of influences from throughout the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nearby regions, such as Italy, Hungary, Germany, and the Balkans, have also had an effect on Austrian cooking.

WIENER SCHNITZEL is a breaded veal cutlet. It is dipped in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, then fried in butter or oil to a golden brown.

GULASCH is a stew, similar to Hungarian “pörkölt”, of meat and vegetables. Austrian goulasch is often eaten with rolls, bread or dumplings.

BOSNA, sometimes called Bosner, is a spicy Austrian fast food dish. Similar to a hot dog, it consists of a Bratwurst sausage, onions, and a blend of ketchup, mustard, and curry powder. It is made with white bread, which is usually grilled before serving.

KAISERSCHMARRN is a light, caramelized pancake made from a sweet batter with flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and milk, which is baked in butter. The pancake gets split into pieces while frying, shredded after preparation, and is usually sprinkled with powder sugar. It is served hot with an apple or plum sauce, or various fruit compotes.

SACHERTORTE is a chocolate cake that was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Klemens Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna.

ALMDUDLER is the brand name of a popular Austrian soft drink. It is a sweetened carbonated beverage made of grape and apple juice concentrates and flavored with herbs. The flavor is similar to ginger ale.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Discover Duernstein, Austria, with Incantato Tours

Dürnstein is a small town on the Danube river in the Krems district, in the Austrian state of Lower Austria. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Wachau region. The town gained its name from the medieval castle which overlooked it. The castle was called "Duerrstein" or "Dürrstein", from the German duerr/dürr meaning "dry" and Stein, "stone". The castle was dry because it was situated on a rocky hill, high above the damp conditions of the Danube at the base of the hill, and it was built of stone. Dürnstein was first mentioned in 1192. The ruins of the castle fortress, 159 meters above the town, are inextricably linked to the Crusades. Here Leopold V, the Babenberg duke ruling the country at that time, held Richard the Lionheart of England prisoner in 1193. It seems that Richard had insulted the powerful Austrian duke in Palestine during the Crusades to capture the Holy Land. The story is that when Richard was attempting to get back home, his boat foundered on the rocks of the Adriatic and he tried to sneak through Austria disguised as a peasant. The English monarch was arrested and imprisoned by Leopold.
For quite some time, nobody knew exactly where in Austria Richard was incarcerated, but his loyal minstrel companion, Blondel, had a clever idea. He went from castle to castle, playing his lute and singing Richard's favorite songs. The tactic paid off, the legend says, for at Dürnstein Richard heard Blondel's singing and sang the lyrics in reply. The discovery forced Leopold to transfer Richard to a castle in the Rhineland Palatinate, but by then everybody knew where he was. So Leopold set a high ransom on the king's head, which was eventually met, and Richard was set free.
The castle was virtually demolished by the Swedes in 1645, but you can visit the ruins if you don't mind a vigorous climb.  

The fifteenth century Dürnstein Abbey (Stift Dürnstein) was initially an Augustinian monastery and was reconstructed when the baroque style came to Austria. It was established in 1410 by Canons Regular from Třeboň and from 1710 rebuilt in a Baroque style according to plans by Joseph Munggenast, Jakob Prandtauer and Matthias Steinl.The blue tower of this church is one of the best baroque examples in the entire country and a notable landmark in the Danube Valley. There is also a splendid church portal. Kremser Schmidt, the noted baroque painter, did some of the altar paintings.  The monastery was dissolved by order of Emperor Joseph II in 1788 and had been given to the Herzogenburg Priory. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Austria: an Incantato Favorite

The Federal State of Austria, located in central Europe, is a very diverse country for its comparatively small size. Ruled by the Habsburg kings and emperors for almost seven centuries, the Austrian culture absorbed many Roman, Slav and Hungarian influences, thus creating a unique cultural blend. Even though around 95% of the population does speak German, there are a number of very pronounced local dialects that make Austrians difficult to understand even for native German speakers. Additionally, due to the various foreign influences, many things have different names in Austria than in other German-speaking countries such as Germany.
Aside from Austria's cultural and natural diversity, there is also a rich music tradition to be found. Austria was and is a world-renowned center for music, especially known for the period of Viennese Classicists. These include composers such as Joseph Haydn, who moved to Vienna in 1790 and was the court composer. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also lived and worked in Vienna, as did Ludwig van Beethoven, although he was originally from Germany. Moreover, these composers' works later guided 19th-century composers such as Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Anton Bruckner, and Gustav Mahler. Vienna's central cemetery is also well worth a visit for any classical music-lover, as people buried here include Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss (father and son), Bruckner, Brahms, and Gluck.