In a city known for its musical output, the Vienna State Opera house, officially known as the Wiener Staatsoper, is perhaps the jewel in the cultural crown. Having played host to some of the world's greatest musicians and home to the opera company of the same name, it is considered one of the world's foremost concert halls, easily rivalling the likes of Milan's Teatro alla Scalla or Buenos Aires' Teatro Colon.
Constructed in 1869, the opera house is noted for having an interior as dramatic as the exterior, full of incredible frescoes and ornate carvings. Although initially disliked by the Austrian public -who described it as "a sunken treasure chest" - over time, it gradually cemented itself into the hearts of the Viennese people.
It's fair to say that the Second World War wasn't kind to the opera house, or to its players, many of whom were excluded, persecuted or killed by the Nazis owing to their Jewish faith. In 1945, the building was devastated by a bombing raid; when it formally reopened a decade later, the first piece played was Ludwig van Beethoven's, ode to freedom, Fidelio.
The opera house is particularly notable for having an exceptionally large variety of performances, with opera, ballet, orchestra and choir productions all taking place throughout the year.
Tickets are made available for purchase through the opera's website as soon as the season preview is published in early April. If you're feeling old school, you can still write to them to request tickets.
For most performances there are also a limited number of children's tickets available for purchase, for the flat price of €15. The actual ticket won't be sent to you, but can be collected at the box office on the day of the performance, provided your child is with you.
Standing tickets can also be obtained from a dedicated standing tickets box office on the day of the performance; these tend to be considerably cheaper, with some shows costing just €4. Get there early, because these go quick.
Although disability access is improving, the fact that the building is so old means that it can still be less than ideal. At present there are 22 designated wheelchair spaces, with these allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Even if music or ballet isn't quite your thing, the building itself is a sight to be seen. Visitors can hear the secrets and stories behind the building by joining a guided tour, which among other things takes in the grand staircase, the state rooms, and the auditorium, as well as letting you peek backstage.
Guided tour - Age 65+
Guided tour - Students and Apprentices
Wiener Staatsoper GmbH