Did you know that Austria is famous for Spanish horses? No? Well it is. The famous Spanish Riding School is in Vienna, Austria. It’s the world’s premier dressage training facility and their equestrian exhibitions are certainly worth seeing!
Visiting the Spanish Riding School is like stepping back in time. The riding hall, the riders’ uniforms and the horses’ tack have all remained relatively unchanged since the 1600s. Not to mention the horses are gorgeous, straight out of a fairy tale. When Lipizzaner horses are born they can be almost any color but as they age, most of them fade into a romantic, snowy white. Lipizzaner horses were bred by the Hapsburg family during the Renaissance. At the height of their power, the Hapsburgs ruled over Austria and Spain. The Lipizzaner horses at the school now are the descendants of horses that the Hapsburgs imported from Spain. That’s why it’s called the Spanish Riding School, despite its location in Vienna. The original plan was for the horses to serve as officers’ mounts in the military but they were so athletic that, in times of peace, they became performers for the upper class.
The Spanish Riding School is the only facility in the world where classic, equestrian dressage is still practiced in its original form. What does ‘classic dressage in its original form’ mean? It’s basically a group of horses dancing solo or in unison to classical music. Seeing a performance here is definitely a unique experience. The horses are renowned for their rigorous routines and have had many famous and influential fans. During WWII General Patton, an avid horseman, viewed a private exhibition of the horses’ skills while he was in Vienna. Afterwards he took all of the Lipizzaner horses under his personal protection until the end of the war. There was even a secret mission to rescue and protect the Lipizzaner horses that Nazis had hidden in rural Czechoslovakia. This unusual WWII story was made into the movie, Miracle of the White Stallions, in the 1960s by Walt Disney.
If watching horses dance doesn’t sound awesome to you, you should still drop by and take an architecture tour of the facility. The School’s riding hall was built in 1729 and is a classic example of baroque architecture. The tour of the facility will show you how large, wooden structures like the riding hall were built in the 1700s. The tour finishes with a climb to the top of the riding facility’s attic where you have a rooftop view of Vienna’s oldest district.
You can see the Lipizzaner horses perform and see many of Vienna’s other attractions during your stay in Austria while you are on AESU’s Great Escape tour.
Early Bird Special: Save up to $400 when you book and pay in full by September 25.
If you have any questions or want help booking your trip, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640 or fill out the contact form found on our website.