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Head down and facing into a gale, peppered with freezing rain, hands balled up and shoved down in jacket pockets, gloves having been lost miles ago, and huddling in a too light jacket walking quickly uphill, I nearly gave up. When I spotted a warm looking inn, I stepped inside the door. Relieved by the sudden warmth and a friendly inn keeper, I asked where Belvedere Castle Museum was. She smiled, “You’re almost there. Go out, take a right and another quick right and there you are.”

I’d nearly given up less than a block from my destination. No, honestly, I nearly gave up before ever leaving the hotel but somehow got myself out the door and to the train station. St. Nicholas’ Church was a beautiful sight but two blocks from the train stop, I nearly turned around to get the next train back. It was already 4 pm, and I wondered whether it would be worth it to brave the elements. But sheer dogged persistence kept me going.

Belvedere is lovely and I’m sure more so in decent weather when the botanical gardens bloom. But the project manager picked January for our work trip, so there I was in Vienna on a forced overnight before flying home. It seemed only right to do something with the opportunity, beyond spending those hours sitting around the hotel.  I resolved to see the crown jewel of the Belvedere collection, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. It is an amazing work of art. Klimt’s landscapes are charming, and I was delighted to be introduced to that part of Klimt’s work. The second major work that caught my eye was the famous painting of Napoleon on a rearing horse. This painting is far more impressive in its original form; reproductions simply don’t feature the brushwork and light well.

Of course, the castle itself is part of the artwork. As expected, ornate rooms with vaulted ceilings were as much a part of the experience as the art. A few hours well spent in the end.

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Visit | Belvedere Museum Vienna

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