Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Behold the grandeur of the Vienna State Opera House

Have a look inside and out of one of the oldest and most famous opera houses in the world.

1 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Wiener Staatsoper

Completed in 1869, the Vienna State Opera sits proudly on the city's Ringstrasse and is one the most legendary opera houses in the world. 

For the story behind this tour, check out Keep it classical: A tour of the stunning Vienna Opera House

2 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


If you don't have time for a show, there are multiple tours most days, which is what I did.   

3 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


One of the oldest parts of the building, the entrance, not surprisingly needs periodic maintenance.   

4 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


A number of tours leave at the same time, each in a different language, and they follow predetermined routes so there's minimal overlap. That, and the construction, meant my tour didn't go up the central staircase, but that didn't stop me...  

5 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


The walls and ceiling of the main staircase, also called the "Feststiege."   

6 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


The staircase survived the war, looking as stately now as it must have done when it was new, nearly 150 years ago. 

7 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's all a lot brighter now, though. 

8 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Josef Gasser designed the seven statues that overlook the stairway, representing the seven "liberal arts" of architecture, dance, drama, music, painting, poetry and sculpture.

9 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

O Fortuna

The ceiling fresco, "Fortuna, ihre Gaben streuend" ("Fortune, scattering her gifts") was painted by Viennese painter Franz Josef Dobiaschofsky, who died two years before the opera house was completed. 

10 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Schwind foyer

The foyer is named for the painter Moritz von Schwind, whose 16 paintings here depict various operas.

11 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Beautiful all over

If the elaborate ceiling wasn't a giveaway, this part of the building also survived the war. 

12 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The man himself

A bust of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can tour the house where he was born if you go to Salzburg, a few hours by train. 

13 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


The patio, so to speak, adjacent to the Schwind foyer, that overlooks the Ringstrasse. 

Statues by Ernst Julius Hähnel are of heroism, tragedy, fantasy, comedy and love. These are what you can see in the arches from the street.

14 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Just what every intermission needs: snacks and a beverage.

15 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Marble mural

A stark contrast to the Neo-Renaissance design of the rest of the building, but it fits with the rest of the Marble Hall.

16 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Tea salon

Once called the Emperor's Salon, this is where Emperor Franz Joseph I (he of WWI fame) would entertain his guests. You can rent this grand room during the day, or for your own use before and after a performance. How's that for living in style?

17 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Box doors

Access to the many boxes that comprise the walls of the auditorium.

18 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Every performance has a maximum audience of 2,284, including seats, standing spaces and wheelchair spots.

19 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


A literal iron curtain separates the audience from backstage. There are two more to protect the side stage and deeper backstage, all in case of fire.

20 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Heavier than they look

When rebuilt in the '40s and '50s, the boxes were formed from concrete, but covered in wood for better acoustics. 

21 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


I was wondering why only some of the seats were covered by protective tarps. Then I looked up...

22 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Light maintenance

The original chandelier was replaced by this 7-by-5 meter (23-by-16.4 foot) light ring that weighs 3,000 kg (6,600 pounds) and has 1,100 bulbs.

23 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Little boxes

You'd think the boxes would all offer a superlative view, but that's where you find most of the sichteinschränkung, or seats with restricted view. 

I'm standing in the orchestra pit, which can hold around 110 musicians.

24 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Dressing rooms

Down here are the many dressing rooms, all off limits to visitors.

25 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


The massive backstage. It's hard to get a sense of it with the curtain down, but this area is nearly as large as the auditorium. 

26 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Watch your step

This hole drops several stories down, so from lowest point to highest point, back stage is even bigger than the auditorium.

27 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Side backstage

I wasn't even at the edge of the backstage area for the previous two photos -- this is the area behind where I was standing. It's a vast space, and I can only imagine how crazy it must be when packed full of performers, stage hands and sets.

28 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET


Tours are only available in the afternoon but they're nearly every day. There's also a performance nearly every night

29 of 29 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Almost perfect

I saw this shot coming and patiently waited for the carriage to get to the perfect position and by chance, no traffic!

...and the tram arrived at that exact moment. Shot ruined. Oh well, I got plenty of great photos on a delightful tour. You can read all about it in Keep it classical: A tour of the stunning Vienna Opera House.

More Galleries

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

16 Photos
CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

9 Photos
2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

14 Photos
Best sound bars under $300

Best sound bars under $300

18 Photos
2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke reports for diesel duty
2018 Ford F-150 diesel

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke reports for diesel duty

22 Photos
Music-friendly cell phone accessories

Music-friendly cell phone accessories

11 Photos
Cosplay at Comic-Con 2016: From Stormtroopers to Sansa Stark

Cosplay at Comic-Con 2016: From Stormtroopers to Sansa Stark

34 Photos