Three cities. One Story
Vienna, Budapest and Prague. The three Imperial cities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are like siblings – distinct in their own right but with a shared history as centres of cultural intensity, especially in the early years of Modernism. Vienna was home to Sigmund Freud and Gustave Klimt. A century earlier Mozart spent the last decade of his life here, composing some of his most famous symphonies, concertos and operas. Budapest gave us Bela Bartok, while Prague produced Antonin Dvorak and Frans Kafka.
Vienna – with its imperial palaces – is the centrepiece of the three. It is where the emperor lived and so drew everything into its orbit. Prague is naturally more bohemian, while Budapest is two cities in one. A combined tour of the three is a journey to the heart of Central Europe.
A ten-day itinerary is easily divided between them.
Follow in the steps of the Hapsburg Emperors and start in Vienna. Highlights include the Hofburg – the principal imperial palace – and home to the Schatzkammer where 800 years of European history are on show. The Augustine Chapel, originally built in the fourteenth century, is next to the Palace. For centuries it hosted the weddings of the emperors. Today is it the perfect setting to listen to Mozart, Schubert and Haydn’s great masses.
Moving up the centuries to fin de siecle Vienna, explore Gustave Klimt ‘s great works, including The Kiss, in the Belvedere Museum. The Belvedere itself – two Baroque palaces set in landscaped parkland – is a monument to the prosperity of the empire.
Separated by the Danube, Buda stands on a hill above the flatter landscape of Pest. Budapest is immediately different from Vienna, less grandiose but with an oriental edge, brought by the Ottomans who ruled the city for 150 years. As well as the great castle in Buda – destroyed three times over the centuries – the surviving synagogues in Pest are remarkable examples of the City’s Jewish heritage.
Prague is a fairy tale city. Medieval churches, cobbled lanes, baroque palaces and everywhere spires pointing upwards. Visit the great gothic Prague Castle and then head down into the enchanting lanes of Mala Strana, where you’ll find the Franz Kafka museum.
An hour North from Prague the Terezin Ghetto Museum, memorial to the Theresienstadt Nazi ghetto and concentration camp can be visited.
South of the city there’s Ceskykrumlov. UNESCO designated, it is set in a valley along a river, and its untouched cobbled streets make it one of Europe’s most romantic towns.
These are just a few possible stops on the journey. Whatever your interests we will build the tour – including time out for other distractions – around you.