A guide to Vienna's history

17:00, Apr 27 2014
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Ducks swim in a pond in front of the Upper Belvedere in Vienna.
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A statue of Habsburg General, Prince Eugene of Savoy, is seen in Vienna.
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Members of the Vienna Boys' Choir perform at their home in Vienna.
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People walk past the Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg (Imperial Palace).
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A horse drawn carriage moves along in the Hofburg (Imperial Palace).
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Stephansdom (St Stephen's Cathedral) in Stephansplatz is lit up at night.
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Tourists look at the Christmas tree in front of Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna. The German expression "Es weihnachtet sehr" (It's getting very Christmassy) fits the mood in Vienna as Austria's capital decks itself out in style for the holiday season.
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A general view of Schoenbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial Habsburg family, in Vienna.

A trip to Vienna wouldn't be complete without taking in a few of its historical attractions, but the sheer range of museums, palaces and galleries can be overwhelming.

Here is our pick of the top five:            

SCHOENBRUNN PALACE

Your first stop should be the magnificent Schoenbrunn Palace - Vienna's most popular tourist attraction.

Schoenbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs, one of Europe's most influential dynasties between the 15th and 20th centuries.

The palace's Great Gallery recently underwent a two-year refurbishment, but my favourite part of the property is the Gloriette terrace, which dates back to 1775.

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The Gloriette overlooks the immaculate gardens and provides a great place from where to view the palace from a distance. Plus, it's a romantic spot for couples to sit and soak in Vienna's old world atmosphere.

If you're travelling with kids, buy a pass to access the maze in the palace gardens.

BELVEDERE

The Upper and Lower Belvedere are two palaces that today house Austrian art.

This is where you can view the world's largest collection of Klimt paintings, including The Kiss in the Upper Belvedere. There are also works by Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh.

Special exhibitions are held in the Lower Belvedere and orangery.

The Belvedere is the former private residence of the military commander Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), and is a beautiful place to view Baroque architecture.

THE WINTER PALACE

If you're fascinated by the Baroque period, you should also check out the former Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy.

Here you will be wowed by the intricate interior design of the palace, including ornate gold ceilings, lavish wallpaper and extensive murals.

You'll also be able to view the work of Austrian and international contemporary artists, as well as pieces from the Belvedere collection, with the venue doubling as an exhibition space.

ALBERTINA

If you haven't had enough art, be sure to call into the Albertina, founded in 1776.

There are four exhibition halls housing displays that will suit traditionalists (think Rembrandt, Warhol and Picasso) as well as enthusiasts wanting their perceptions of art to be challenged by contemporary political works.

The gallery's most famous piece is the Hare by Albrecht Durer.

The Albertina is the largest of the former private Habsburg residences and visitors can explore 21 restored staterooms complete with period furnishings.

SIGMUND FREUD MUSEUM

Opening back in 1971, the Sigmund Freud Museum offers a fascinating look at the life and work of the founder of psychoanalysis.

The museum is housed in the medical office and private apartment that Freud rented up to 1938, before he went into exile in England.

The office waiting room still contains the original furniture, while elsewhere are personal belongings and a film of the Freud family's private life in the 1930s.

There are also original documents from the period, photos and contemporary art.

It's a well run museum, with numerous language audio guides, guide books and tours by reservation.

The writer travelled as a guest of Vienna Tourist Board.

AAP