Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mirabell Garten

This Morning I got up and had some time before the first class meeting. I took bus #3 into town and got off near the Mirabell Gardens. These formal gardens a part of the Prince-Archbishop’s summer residence (not the summer day residence – that’s Schloss Hellbrun.) The gardens are spectacular and immaculately kept, although have seen the guy with the smelly little diesel cart and tank at work I don’t want to know what type of crap they’re pouring on these plants.

I found a garden of odd little stone dwarves while exploring the north end of the park. I stood on a hillock where the garden commemorated Kaiser Franz-Josef, photographing the perfectly framed view of the Alt Stadt with the dome and the Festung. Suddenly and old time Austrian band marched out of Schloss Mirabell and into the gardens. Imagine the perfection of the scene, with the band playing, the brilliant sunlit morning, the gardens in full bloom. I was enchanted.

While they played I explored an open-air theatre made from hedges. It even has a pit for an orchestra. What a great spot for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream!” While exploring the labyrinth of paths that provide for the entrances and exits of actors, I stumbled upon a playground full a child’s dreams worth of gargantuan playground equipment.

I crossed the river and went looking in the northern end of the Alt Stadt, where the Monchsberg squeezes the city against the river, for a good inexpensive lunch. I found it at a little pizza place called Soli where the proprietor served me a hot plate of Risotto with clams. I sat outdoors in a little square watching people and carriages go by, marveling that here I was alone in Europe. It was like something I might have read about someone else doing. Now I was that person.

I went next door and took a lift to the Museum of Modern Art which is located next to a castle atop the Monchsberg . The museum was a little disappointing, as they were showing work by British and American artists the sort of which I felt I could easily see in the United States. I walked out of the museum for the view and was a little disappointed by that too, having been on the platform of the Festung the day before.

I meandered back through the city and decided to give the dome a second try. Probably because I was less exhausted after a good night’s sleep, I really got into it. I went around really examining all of the art, especially the eight smaller altars at the sides of the church as well as the ceilings, really trying to identify the biblical stories they were based on. It’s interesting, a gothic cathedral would have a great deal of statuary on the outside, the building serving as a vast sculptural encyclopedia of faith for the vast majority who were not literate. The Baroque Dome achieves much the same thing, except on the inside using paintings and frescos.

Worried that my time in town had gotten past me, I hopped the bus back to the Frohnburg.

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