There is a German word for longing: sehnsucht. It is a homesickness for a country you have never visited, a love for somebody you’ve never met. It is a yearning without an object, and so without an end. It’s the vague, elegiac melancholy you find in Viennese writers like Zweig or Roth, missing the Vienna Before the War.
It isn’t often that you can book into an ex–secret service agency for the night, but Vienna’s Grand Ferdinand allows you to do just that.
Freud was among the great minds that frequented Café Landtmann—the psychoanalyst once lived nearby, visiting the café for languorous games of chess—as did Gustav Mahler, Marlene Dietrich, and Burt Lancaster.
Vienna’s appeal is undeniable. The Austrian capital was named the world’s most livable city for the sixth time in a row.
Paris had the triumphal Champs Élysées and London the stately, tree-lined Mall. But in mid-19th-century Vienna—seat of the historic Habsburg monarchy—there was only a faded tangle of old-town streets circled by military towers. And for Emperor Franz Joseph I, that wasn’t good enough.
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Gustav Klimt’s birth, the Belvedere palace and museum in Vienna—which owns the world’s largest collection of his paintings, including The Kiss (1908)—has amassed a special exhibition on the visionary Austrian artist. “The Jubilee Exhibition: 150 Years of Gustav Klimt” runs until January 6, 2013, in the Upper Belvedere.
Vienna is a feast for the senses, a living city very much in concert and comfort with its illustrious past.