House of Music (Haus der Musik)#5 in Best Things To Do in Vienna
Vienna has long been a musical epicenter. It was here that renowned composers, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Mahler and Strauss lived, composed and performed. So it's hard not to be tempted to stop in a site known as the House of Music (Haus der Musik) during your time in the city. This small but fascinating museum showcases the works of Vienna's elite musicians with displays featuring manuscripts and sound bytes. Exhibits also explain the evolution of sound and the mechanics behind our ability to hear. Plus, there's an entire floor dedicated to the Vienna Philharmonic where you can even use a virtual wand to conduct the musicians. (Be careful, though, if you mess up they may ridicule you.) Travelers say if you're a classical music fan (or even a fan of the science of sound), a visit to the House of Music should be a priority.
You'll find the Haus der Musik located in the Innere Stadt just a few blocks southeast of the Hofburg Palace complex. It's open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is 13 euros (about $15) for adults and 6 euros (about $7) for children younger than 12. Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups. For more information, check out the museum's website.
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#1 St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)
Towering above the streets of the Innere Stadt, this massive cathedral is the true centerpiece of Vienna. St. Stephen's has stood in this very spot since the early 12th century, but little remains of the original aside from the Riesentor (Giant's Gate) and the Heidentuerme (Towers of the Heathens). The Gothic structure standing today was built in the early 1300s and has survived the Turkish siege of 1683. It was here that mourners came to pay their respects to Amadeus Mozart in 1791. In 1805, Napoleon used St. Stephen's doors to post his farewell edict. And it weathered attacks from both German and Russian armies during World War II. Today, this stunning cathedral remains an active house of worship, a national icon and a top tourist attraction.
After you've toured the main section, head underground to the catacombs where many victims of the Great Plague of Vienna were laid to rest. Move on to the gruft, or vault, where numerous urns contain the remains of members of the Hapsburg royal family. Before you leave, you should climb the 343 steps to the top of the South Tower or use the elevator to reach the lookout terrace at the North Tower – you'll be treated to a spectacular view. Visitors call this one of those "must-visit" attractions in Europe, praising the gorgeous church and its surroundings.
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