Day Trips from Vienna
WIENER SÄNGERKNABEN The Vienna Boys' Choir, Wiener Sängerknaben, is one of the oldest boys' choirs that is not part of a church or college. In the late 15th century the choir was part of Maximilian I's court music and sang in the Imperial Chapel which he founded, but the roots of the choir go back as far as the 13th century. The choir still sings in the Imperial Chapel in Vienna on Sundays, but the boys also tour a lot. The choir has its own grammar school to ensure that its members maintain their schooling. The choir is organized into four touring choirs named after famous Austrian composers associated with the history of the choir: Bruckner, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert. The Vienna Boys' Choir is a private, not-for- profit organization and is housed at the Hofburg. PRATER The Vienna Prater is both a huge outdoor area and an amusement park. Once the Emperor Maximilian II's hunting ground in the 16th century, in 1766 Emperor Joseph II declared it open parkland for everyone. Coffee- houses and cafes sprang up and nobody seemed worried that it continued to be used for hunting until 1920! It was also around the 18th century that the Wurstelprater began - an amusement park which continues to this day and includes the giant ferris wheel, the Riesenrad, one of Vienna's famous sights. There are also bumper cars, a roller-coaster, and carousels. The Prater also houses a planetarium and the Prater Museum, a little disappointing as museums go although the antique slot machines are worthwhile. VIENNA ZOO Founded in 1752 as a menagerie by Franz Stephan, Tiergarten Schönbrunn, or Vienna Zoo, is the oldest zoo in the world. It houses some 750 animals of all shapes and sizes; the most recent arrivals to excite crowds were giant pandas in 2003 although lemurs, armadillos and baby Serbian tigers spurred plenty of interest in 2006. Thankfully most of the original cramped cages have been updated and improved, but the odd one still remains. The zoo's layout is reminiscent of a bicycle wheel, with pathways as spokes and an octagonal pavilion at its center. The pavilion dates from 1759 and was used as the imperial breakfast room; it now houses a fine restaurant (so you can feel regal, too). Feeding times are staggered throughout the day - maps on display tell you who's dining when. DONAUPARK or Danube Park, is huge - 2,600,000 square feet (800,000 square metres). Located on the north bank of the impressive Danube River, it even has beaches for the summer months. There is a stage with live entertainment, a mini train to ride, a giant chess board, tennis courts, a skater park, bike paths and a small zoo! Until 1945 it was a military firing range, then it was used for landfill. Finally it became a park, originally for the Vienna International Flower Show of 1964. At this time, Vienna's tallest structure, the Danube Tower, was also built in the park. It's 826 ft (252 m) high and has a revolving restaurant and viewing platforms. And of course, people bungee jump from the tower.
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