We are always in search of insider experiences that grant us exclusive access to the most popular (and overtouristed) sites. On this trip to Vienna, we had a behind-the-scenes look at the Spanish Riding School and explored Schönbrunn Palace after normal visiting hours. These tours allowed us to avoid the crowds and experience these famous historic locations in a more meaningful way.
Backstage Tour of the Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is one of the world’s most prestigious institutions of classical dressage, and its performances have been a fixture of Viennese culture for centuries.
Ferdinand I imported a number of Spanish and Berber horses known for their beauty, intelligence and agility in 1537. The horses were then trained in the art of classical dressage, which emphasizes the precise execution of a series of intricate movements and exercises. At the request of Charles VII, construction of the Winter Riding School began in 1729. Conceived by Austrian architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the arena was completed in 1735. The Spanish Riding School has since become famous for its Lipizzaner stallions. The Lipizzaners are a vision of power and poise, with their gray-white coats, muscular builds and gentle, dark eyes.