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One of Europe’s most intriguing cities, Vienna brims with rich history, architecture and culture. Ong Soh Chin waxes lyrical about the Austrian city famed for the Blue Danube waltz.

Vienna immediately conjures up images of waltzes, palaces and all manner of grandeur. Indeed, mere photographs cannot truly capture the majestic beauty of the capital and heart of the old Habsburg empire, with its palatial buildings, magnificent statues and rich cultural heritage.

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For visitors who are pressed for time, examples of all these can be found in one place: Schonbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburgs. The palace and its gardens earned a Unesco listing in 1996.

The imperial rooms have their own distinct design themes, but are largely furnished in the Rococo style, with elaborate gold-leaf ornamentation and Bohemian crystal chandeliers. However, other world cultures are also reflected in the decor. The Room of Millions, for example, features rosewood panels, and its walls are adorned with Indian and Persian miniatures, making it probably the most magnificent Rococo room in the world. Even today, the Austrian government hosts official receptions there for visiting heads of state.

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Vienna is also home to amazing art, much of which can be found in a group of museums, collectively called the Vienna Museum. Within them, art stretches from the Neolithic ages to the mid-20th century, including works by famous Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

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Travellers can also visit the residences of the many famous composers who were born, lived or died in Vienna. They include Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven. Then there was Johann Strauss the Younger, who composed The Blue Danube waltz that’s inextricably associated with the city. Because of the tune, many people assume the Danube River is Austrian when, in reality, it flows through 10 countries and is Europe’s second-longest river.

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Vienna is also famous for the sacher-torte. But which establishment serves a better version of the chocolate sponge cake with apricot jam that was created in 1832? Confectionery salon Demel orHotel Sacher? In the interest of fairness, I suggest visitors try both.

This story was first featured on SilverKris