The imperial or princely residences, such as the Hofburg and Albertina in the city center, the Belvedere Palace that lies further out, or Schönbrunn Palace on the city’s outskirts, are all representative of a political use of architecture. They have a dual function: to be an incarnation of the established order and to symbolize the cultural model of the dynastic and absolutist Europe of the 17th and 18th centuries. An elitist culture which is in complete opposition to popular culture.
Gleaming 17th century facades follow each other along circular canals. Bunches of cyclists chase each other relentlessly. Tourists dressed in their Sunday best stroll around, amazed but confused. Canal highways busy with all sorts of boats and prestigious museums decorated with long waiting lines. Large avenues with major brands, quirky side streets, fragments of ultra-modern urban planning, houseboats as a way of life, peripheral areas being redeveloped, pieces of street art scattered through the city.