I’ll be honest, as much as I am a huge lover of theatre I’ve never seen an Opera, so even though Vienna is so well known for its association with it, doing the Vienna Opera House tour wasn’t on my to-do list. However, once we were walking past the building and I spotted the exterior I knew I just had to pop in and join a tour. I needed to see if the inside matched the beautiful exterior of the building, thankfully it was even more stunning inside then out and I’m really glad I took the chance on joining the guided tour. In 40 minutes we were guided around some of the amazing interior architecture, scenery, backstage areas and more as our tour guide explained some of the fascinating histories of this famous building. Here are my highlights of this amazing building:
It sounds obvious but all tours start in the foyer. This large, grand space makes you feel tiny as you are dwarfed by such an impressive space. From the marble staircase, to the luxurious carpets, to the gold everywhere, to the paintings which adorn the walls; it is clear this opera house belongs to a time of utmost elegance and luxury.
The Grand staircase
The staircase, oh the staircase! It’s a frankly awe-inspiring sight to behold. Made of marble and surrounded everywhere by marble statues and glimmering gold, when you walk down it you feel like you should be an extra in some kind of lavish period drama, or maybe even Belle in Beauty and the Beast! I can only imagine how it must have looked in the days of candlelight.
Emperor’s Private Room
This room is one of the most spectacular in the whole building and for good reason. Until relatively recently this room was closed to the public and was reserved for the Emperor and later the royal family, and as a result, it is dripping in opulence! Everywhere you look you are surrounded by beautiful antique furniture, more gold (of course!) and stunning artwork. It’s a joy to behold.
Who doesn’t love a peek behind the scenes! I actually used to work backstage in theatre as a lighting and stage technician for a few years, so I always love seeing how things work. The flies here are super high for all the complex lighting and scenery changes, it’s interesting to imagine what it must look like on a show day.
The nosy part of me loves peeking inside dressing rooms! I love seeing what artefacts people leave around. Because of the large cast involved in the Operas here, there are so many dressing rooms that it feels like a rabbit warren walking through them.
The State Rooms
The Tea Salon, Marble Hall, Schwind Foyer and Gustav Mahler Hal are all some of the best highlights of the tour as you explore this beautiful building. All are lavishly decorated and dripping in history, photos really don’t do it justice.
Of course, no tour is complete without visiting the auditorium itself. The stage is vast and I’d love to see a show here one day. They even have standing only space at the back where you can pick up a ticket to any show for just €10. Once a year the auditorium and stage are transformed for the legendary Vienna Opera Ball, a highly elegant event that brings in the rich and famous for eye-watering ticket prices to be seen in this stunning formal dance that has been going on for over 100 years.
The Vienna Opera House tour takes place every hour for just €9 and it takes around 40 minutes and is available in seven different languages. All tours start at the same time but take different routes around the building so you are still in a relatively small, intimate group throughout. The times of the tour are dependent upon the Season of your visit so make sure you check out the website for more details.