Spanish Riding School (Spanische Reitschule)
The world famous Spanish Riding School, or Spanische Hofreitschule, is a Viennese institution truly reminiscent of the imperial Habsburg era. This unequaled equestrian show is performed by Lipizzaner stallions, a crossbreeding of Spanish, Arab and Berber horses. The horses were first imported from Spain (hence 'Spanish') by Maximilian II in 1562, and in 1580 a stud was established at Lipizza (hence 'Lipizzaner'), now in Slovenia.
A Lipizzaner performance is pretty impressive. These graceful stallions perform an equine ballet to a program of classical music while chandeliers shimmer above. The mature stallions are all snow-white (though they are born dark and turn white at age four) and the riders wear traditional garb, from their leather boots up to their bicorn hats.
The Spanish Riding School is located in the Hofburg. The closest metro station is Herrengasse on line U3. Or tram 1, 2, D and J, get off at stop Burgring. Buses 2A and 3A stop at Hofburg. If you want to see a performance, book well in advance or try for a cancellation two hours before. If you just want to see the horses, hang around outside the stables, the Stallburg.
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