Austria and Hungary, the latter not always voluntarily, shared quite a long history. Austria, German-speaking, but not German, was clearly dominating the smaller Hungary (as well as a number of other territories on the Balkan) in matters of language, government, administration, and economy.
Nevertheless, Hungary’s influence can also be seen in Austria: the famous Lippizaner horses, goulash, or Dobos cake are indicator that the cultural exchange was not just a one-way street.
At the end of World War I, in 1918, Austria’s capital Vienna was reduced from an empire ruling over 50 million people to a rump state with 6.5 million. At this point, Hungary gained its independence from Austria. Consequently, Vienna was now an oversized capital for a country one third of its original size.
In Vienna, we will explore the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, palaces like the Hofburg and Schönbrunn, and museums like the Art History Museum or the famous Belvedere. Besides art, we will also enjoy a concert or opera performance and enjoy the famous Viennese cakes in one of the many coffee houses such as the Cafe Central.
The Nazi past is part of the Austrian culture and often referrenced in modern art. We will, therefore, also visit the former concentration camp Mauthausen outside of Vienna.
Together with the Holocaust and Memory course, you can also visit the Central Cemetary, the largest cemetary in Europe (it has its own bus lines!), where famous cultural greates such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert are buried.
Exclusively in 2019, we have the chance to participate in a Viennese Ball. While a very formal affair (Men: tuxedo, women long evening gown), it is also inegral part of Austrian culture.
In Budapest, we will see the hilly Buda and the flat Pest on either sides of the Danube river, art museums, the Budapest castle with the Matthias chuch, and the famous Fisherman’s bastion that affords us an incredible view over the Danube at the Parliament building.
We will also visit Esztergom, Visegrád and Szentendre, the three most beautiful cities in the Danube Bend.
Esztergom used to be the capital of Hungary and is still the centre of the Catholic Church. We visit the largest cathedral of Hungary. Afterwards, we drive across the river to Slovakia and enjoy the view over the Basilica. Visegrád: After the Mongol invasion a new fortification was constructed here in the mid-13th century. The top of the hill offers a fascinating panorama on the Danube valley. After lunch, we continue on to Szentendre, a small baroque city built on medieval ruins, located at the gate of the Danube Bend. The town is considered to be the Artists’ Village or the Painters’ Town. We walk around the historical centre and enjoy the cobblestoned narrow streets as well as the baroque houses. After the guided tour you can also visit some museums (for example the famous Margit Kovács Ceramic Museum or the Confectionery Museum with marzipan figures).