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Antique Shopping in Vienna

Dorotheum. If you're looking for something truly special—an 18th-century oil portrait or a real fur, a rococo mirror or a fine silk fan, a china figurine or sterling-silver spoon, an old map of the Austrian Empire or even a stuffed parrot—the one place that may have the answer is the Dorotheum, Vienna's fabled auction house. Have you ever wanted to see how the Austrian aristocracy once lived, how their sumptuous homes were furnished? Well, don't bother with a museum—you can inspect their antique furnishings, displayed as if in use, for free, and without the eagle eyes of sales personnel following your every move. This was the first imperial auction house (oops, pawnshop), established in 1707 by Emperor Joseph I. Occupying the former site of the Dorothy Convent (hence the name), the Dorotheum has built up a grand reputation. The neo-baroque building was completed in 1901 and deserves a walk-through (you can enter from Spiegelgasse and exit on Dorotheergasse) just to have a look, even if you only admire the gorgeous stuccoed walls and palatial interiors, or peek into the glass-roofed patio stocked with early-20th-century glass, furniture, and art. With more than 600 auctions a year, this has become one of the busiest auction houses in Europe. There are auctions held frequently throughout the week, though not Saturday, and it's closed Sunday. And if you don't fancy bidding for something, there are sale areas on the ground and second floors where loads of stuff can simply be bought off the floor. Dorotheergasse 17, 1st District, Vienna, A-1010. 01/515–600. www.dorotheum.at.

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