Visit five countries and up to six UNESCO World Heritage sites on this exclusive journey to the cultural centers that inspired classical music’s Great Masters. Framed by rolling hillsides, lush vineyards and medieval castles, the Danube River Valley has resonated with musicians, artists, poets and travelers throughout the centuries and has contributed to the world the genius of its most renowned virtuosos. This unique combination of river and land travel includes three nights in the medieval gem of Prague and a seven-night cruise on the legendary Blue Danube from Passau, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, through the stunning Wachau Valley aboard the newly launched deluxe m.s. Amadeus Silver II , one of the finest ships to ply the waterways of Europe.
Gail Cornell is an architectural historian and graduate of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She has been a frequent speaker on international study tours for 20 years. Her research and lectures on the history of Western architecture have taken her to Italy, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain, and Portugal numerous times. She is an Adjunct Faculty member of New York University and Hunter College and a Lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Gail also volunteers her time as an architectural historian at New York City’s historic City Hall and Tweed Courthouse. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the Society of Architectural Historians.
U.S./Prague, Czech Republic
Tuesday and Wednesday, October 10 and 11
Depart the U.S. for Prague, the “City of a Thousand Spires,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site showcasing 600 years of virtually untouched architecture. Upon arrival, check into the deluxe INTERCONTINENTAL PRAHA HOTEL. Attend the private Welcome Reception Wednesday evening in the hotel.
Thursday and Friday, October 12 and 13
On the guided walking tour, explore the diverse cultural legacy of Prague, celebrated for its splendid combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Walk along the narrow, picturesque lanes of the Staré Mˇesto (Old Town) to the Orloj, the ornate, 15th-century astronomical clock of the Old Town Hall. See the world-famous Charles Bridge, adorned with 17th- and 18th-century Baroque statues. Enjoy a brief private performance of Mozart’s music and a specially arranged private tour of the Estates Theatre, where the prodigy’s opera Don Giovanni premiered in 1787. In Josefov, the Jewish Quarter of Prague, visit Europe’s oldest extant Jewish house of worship—the Gothic-style Old-New Synagogue—and walk amongst the moss-covered, 15th-century headstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery. On Friday, tour the fascinating former residence of Bohemian royalty, the Hradˇcany complex of castles, churches and museums, whose spires dominate the city skyline. By special arrangement, view original Beethoven manuscripts and enjoy a private string quartet concert in the magnificent, family-owned 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace. Visit the neo-Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest and most signifi cant cathedral in Prague, and see the Royal Mausoleum and spectacular St. Wenceslas Chapel. Walk through the quaint “Golden Lane,” lined with small, Mannerist-style houses and workshops once occupied by castle goldsmiths, alchemists, artisans and guards. Author Franz Kafka was said to have lived here between 1916 and 1917. On the former site of the Bohemian Kingdom’s Royal Court, enjoy a private tour of the spectacular Municipal House, an early 20th-century Art Nouveau masterpiece. Visit the stunning Smetana Hall, where an independent Czechoslovakia was declared in 1918.
Saturday, October 14
Travel across rolling hills and through the bucolic wooded countryside to Passau, where three legendary rivers—the Danube, Ilz and Inn—converge. Enjoy lunch in a traditional German restaurant before the walking tour along the cobblestone streets of Altstadt, Passau’s Old Town. Visit the Baroque-style St. Stephan’s Cathedral, consecrated in the 12th century, where the largest pipe organ in Europe is housed. Embark M.S. AMADEUS SILVER II, attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and, following dinner, enjoy a short concert of classical music on board.
Linz, Austria, for Salzburg
Sunday, October 15
This morning, arrive in Linz and transfer to Salzburg, a delightful UNESCO-designated city and the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Enjoy a walking tour of Salzburg’s Old Town to admire its splendid Baroque architecture, the majestic 17th-century Cathedral and the landmark Festung Hohensalzburg, the largest fully preserved fortress in central Europe. along the charming Getreidegasse pedestrian thoroughfare to see the house where Mozart was born in 1756. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and time at leisure to explore Salzburg. Drive through the breathtaking Austrian countryside featured in the movie The Sound of Music, and stop in picturesque Mondsee to see the historic church where Maria and Baron von Trapp were married in the film.
Monday, October 16
In the riverside town of Melk, visit the incredible Benedictine Abbey, a showcase of impressive Austrian Baroque architecture, priceless relics, including its library—today a repository of 100,000 medieval manuscripts—and stunning 18th-century ceiling frescoes by Paul Troger. In Melk Abbey’s beautiful kirche (church), admire the perfectly intact multi-panel 16th-century altarpiece by Danube School master Jörg Breu the Elder. This afternoon, dock in the charming medieval village of Dürnstein, situated below the hilltop ruins of Castle Kuenringer, where Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner after the Third Crusade. Visit the 15th-century Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Abbey Church and enjoy a short, private organ concert inside the cathedral. Be on deck this evening as you cruise the Danube’s spectacular and fabled UNESCO World Heritage-designated Wachau Valley, where terraced vineyards blanket hillsides dotted with the haunting ruins of medieval castles.
Tuesday and Wednesday, October 17 and 18
Former seat of the Habsburg Empire, Vienna’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage open-air museum of splendid Baroque architecture. This remarkable city owes its present appearance to Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef, who created the famous Ringstrasse that displays its fi nest landmarks—the impressive Vienna State Opera house and the lavish Hofburg Palace. Visit the iconic, Gothic-style Stephansdom (St. tephen’s Cathedral). Enjoy a private, specially arranged performance of Mozart and other composers’ music in the extraordinary Sala Terrena, Vienna’s oldest concert hall and where Mozart resided, worked and performed. The afternoon and evening are at leisure to enjoy Vienna on your own.
On Wednesday, visit the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens, the spectacular summer estate of the imperial Habsburgs. It was in one of these grand salons that a six-year-old Mozart fi rst performed for Empress Maria Theresa and her daughter, the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. The afternoon is free for individual pursuits. The ship overnights in Vienna on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thursday, October 19
En route to Bratislava, cruise through Austria’s scenic Donau-Auen National Park, the last remaining major wetlands in central Europe. The charming capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is nestled in the foothills of the impressive Carpathian Mountain range. Beautifully restored, the city depicts 21st-century life amidst its 1000-year-old history. Enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town; its medieval, Renaissance and 19th-century architecture is among the fi nest in central Europe. Visit the Romanesque, 14th-century Cathedral of St. Martin and the elaborate Primatial Palace and see St. Michael’s Gate, Bratislava’s oldest preserved medieval fortifi cation, originally built in 1300. This evening, enjoy a performance of classical music on board the ship.
Friday, October 20
Austrian-born, nevertheless the “most Hungarian Habsburg,” Archduke Joseph is credited with creating in Budapest an imperial capital that rivaled Vienna. Buda and Pest—twin cities that face each other across the Danube River—the embankments along this storied river and the Buda Castle Quarter together as one are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin your tour in Pest to see the iconic and imposing neo-Gothic limestone Parliament Building, built between 1884 and 1904 situated on the river’s banks. Pass through Heroes’ Square and admire the monuments honoring the Magyar chiefs who conquered Hungary in A.D. 896. Inside the 19th-century, neo-Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House—one of the most beautiful performing arts venues in the world—admire frescoes by eminent painters, including Mór Than and Károly Lotz, and enjoy a private, specially arranged aria performance. Cross the imposing Chain Bridge linking river-level Pest to the hills of Buda. Visit the stately, late-19th-century, neo-Romanesque Fisherman’s Bastion, where seven turrets symbolize the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin, and explore the Gothic-style St. Matthias Church, where Charles I, the last Habsburgian ruler, was coronated in 1916. On board the ship this evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner followed by a traditional Hungarian folklore performance.
Saturday, October 21
Continue on the Hungarian Tradition in Budapest Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S.