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Opernring 2

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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

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  • 4.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Since 1869, the Vienna State Opera has been the city's premier venue for the performing arts and a major focal point of Viennese life. Its directorship is one of the most prestigious positions in Austria. The Staatsoper still hosts performances, but you can also tour this magnificent building on a guided tour. You'll find 40-minute tours run every day (times vary depending on the performance schedule) and allow you a behind-the-scenes look at this beloved landmark. Tours come highly recommended by previous visitors. If you're interested in learning more about the Staatsoper, head over to the Staatsopermuseum, which displays photographs and articles spanning the house's history.

While some visitors say viewing a performance here is worth the pricey admission fee (especially opera lovers who called the experience unforgettable), others note that you can enjoy the performance for free: In April, May, June and September, live opera and ballet performances are screened on the front of the opera building. 

The Staatsoper sits just south of Hofburg Palace along the Ringstrasse. Tours cost 7.50 euros (around $8.50) for adults and 3.50 euros (about $4) for children. For an extra euro or so, you can purchase a combination ticket for both the guided tour and the Staatsopermuseum. Tickets for performances vary in price. Visit the opera house's website for more information on tours and performance schedules.

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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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