Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gay Travel: Visiting Vienna, Austria

via Starobserver

Vienna is the undisputed capital of gay and lesbian life in Austria and is home to an estimated 170,000 gays and lesbians. Both in the past and present, gays and lesbians have played a prominent role in Viennese public life.

Perhaps the earliest of these was responsible for stopping the Turkish advance into Europe in the 17th century.

Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736) freed Vienna from Ottoman siege, pushing them back to the Balkans over several wars. Prince Eugene’s preference for men was well known in his lifetime, but he rose in power under three emperors. His baroque summer palace, Schloss Belvedere, today houses paintings from the Middle Ages to the present, including famous works by Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.

Vienna’s most famous son, the composer Franz Schubert (1797–1828) shared a bed for two years with his librettist Johann Baptist Mayerhofer, and Schubert dedicated an unfinished opera to Mayerhofer. The houses of Schubert’s birth and death remain popular attractions in the city to this day.

Archduke Ludwig Viktor (1842-1919) had a reputation for cross-dressing and created a scandal when he was slapped by a young officer in the Centralbad indoor swimming pool. Ludwig was banished by the emperor but today the Centralbad is the gay Kaiserbründl Sauna.

Vienna’s gay scene centres around the Rosa-Lila-Villa on Linke Wienzeile where many GLBT organisations are based and most of the city’s gay and lesbian hangouts can be found nearby.

Young gays up for cocktails go to Mango Bar, whereas Felixx attracts the upmarket crowd. Village Bar attracts all ages, while the doors of Eagle Bar and Sling stay open late. Club-Losch attracts the leather crowd.

Girls can party at the Frauenzentrum Bar, Café Willendorf, Marea Alta or the Frauencafé.

Good food and delicious wines add to an unforgettable Viennese night out. This year, Motto scooped the coveted title of Vienna’s best gay restaurant in Name-It magazine, picking up 106,000 votes along the way.

Vienna Pride and its Rainbow Parade take place on June 14-19 this year.

Vienna also offers an immense range of cultural, culinary and shopping experiences that aren’t specifically gay and lesbian in character, with major cultural institutions in the city including the State Opera, the Burgtheater, the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Museums Quartier.

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