Read about the city

Vienna is the city of elegance, and it is the heart of the former Holy Roman and Austrian empires. It is thereby the center of the fantastic history of the Habsburg dynasty and the capital of classical music, with all the magnificent buildings, the emperors and state have built during the last many centuries.

Nearly everywhere, there are historic buildings and great art that the Habsburg emperors have been at the forefront of. Enormous sums of money were invested in beauty and in the classic culture, which for many is the epitome of Baroque Vienna in particular.

Hofburg formed the center of power in the Habsburg Empire, and the castle and the many beautiful buildings in the castle complex are among Vienna's absolute top attractions. This is also where you find the Spanish Riding School and the famous Treasury.

It is certainly not without reason that composers such as Beethoven and Mozart were inspired by the beautiful capital. Vienna cafes, museums, streets, squares and much more as the famous Ferris wheel in the Prater Park are some of the experiences in the Austrian capital. A piece of Sachertorte at Hotel Sacher is also a good choice of a genuine Viennese experience.

If you want to see what is around the city center, make a trip to the imperial palace of Schönbrunn, which is close by. The lavish palace and castle park is a great place to visit. It is also not far to the Danube and to exciting places such as the excavations of ancient Roman settlements and the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava.

Other attractions

Belvedere, Vienna

  • Belvedere: Belvedere is a beautiful baroque complex with two elegant castles, Upper and Lower Belvedere. There is a lovely garden in formal French style between the two buildings. Belvedere was built in the 18th century as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy.
  • Mozart's Apartment/Mozartwohnung: Figarohaus is the name of the house, where the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's once lived. In 1781 Mozart moved from Salzburg to Vienna, and in the years 1784-1787 he stayed here in Figarohaus.
  • Charles Square/Karlsplatz: This beautiful square was built by Emperor Charles VI in the early 1700s. The large church, Karlskirche, is the dominant building, and there is also a fine pavilion that stands in the middle of the square.

Maria Theresia Square, Vienna

  • Maria Theresia Square/Maria-Theresien-Platz: The elegant square, Maria-Theresien-Platz, was constructed in the late 1800s as one of the only completed parts of the grand-scale plan of the new Hofburg, the Kaiserforum. Here you can e.g. visit the city's science museum.
  • Imperial Apartments, Silver Chamber & Sisi Museum/Kaiserappartements, Silberkammer & Sisi Museum: Kaiserappartements are some of the imperial family's private comforts at Hofburg. In the Silberkammer, items from the imperial family is exhibited. The Sisi Museum is an interesting exhibition about Empress Elisabeth.
  • The Spanish Riding School/Spanische Hofreitschule: The famous Spanish Riding School is located in the Stallburg building. The institution is believed to have been established in 1572, and it got its name from the Spanish horses that were raised and trained here.

Vienna City Hall

  • City Hall/Rathaus: Vienna's Neo-Gothic City Hall was built in 1872-1883 by Friedrich von Schmidt. It houses both the city of Vienna's governor's office and mayor's office as well as the region's parliament.
  • St. Peter's Church/Peterskirche: The present St. Peter's Basilica was built mainly in the years 1701-1722, but was not consecrated before 1733. The church was the first with a dome in Baroque Vienna, and the interior is quite overwhelming with fine and rich stucco and other decoration.
History overview

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    Settlements in the area
    In the 400s BC established Celtic tribes settlement in the Danube valley around present-day Vienna - they built an early castle. In year 9, the Romans founded the military camp Vindobona in connection with the conquest of the Austrian territory. The Romans brought about 275 vines to Vienna, and it became the start of the region's large wine production.

    Beginning in the 400s, Germanic tribes' attacks began, which together with the weakening of the Roman Empire led the Romans in 433 to leave Vienna and the province to the females. In the following centuries, there were many battles between different peoples.

    Charlemagne's Ostmark 
    The Frankish Charlemagne established in 803 a region in the Danube valley named Ostmark, the forerunner of the later Austria. Officially, the name of Austria was first used in 996.

    In 1137 Vienna was first mentioned as a city, and it developed rapidly in trade, not least because of its good location on the trade routes between East and West. In 1155, Heinrich II established his residence here, and Vienna came under the rule of the Bavarian Babenberg princes.

    The Babenbergs' reign ended in 1246, when the regent died in the decisive battles and victories in the uprising against the invading Hungarians. It created decades of political void in Vienna.

    The Habsburg Empire
    In 1273, the Habsburg Rudolf placed the Austrian territories, including Vienna, under the German-Roman Empire, which, like the Habsburg Empire, was to remain in power until the 20th century. In the 1300s and 1400s, Vienna underwent a cultural, political and religious development. The city's university was founded in 1365, and in 1438 Vienna became the residence city of the kingdom. In 1469 the town became bishopric.

    These were also the years when the energetic Habsburgs expanded their empire with the inclusion of Tyrol and Carniola in the Northern Balkans, among others. The empire was expanded to include the Netherlands, Burgundy and Spain. Its size eventually required a new form of leadership, and in 1521 the kingdom's leadership was divided between the brothers Ferdinand and Charles.

    The 1500-1600s
    1521 were also the years of the Reformation in Vienna. Four years later, a fire ravaged large parts of the city that had to be rebuilt. In 1529 the Turks besieged the city and destroyed the outer areas. The Turks were knocked back, but Vienna was threatened and the fortresses were expanded.

    In 1551, Vienna, with the help of the Jesuits, underwent a return to Catholicism. During the 30-year war, Vienna was besieged by the Swedish army, but the Swedes left the area again. Financially, the war was of great importance to Vienna, which stagnated over the years.

    In 1679, the plague hit Vienna and 80,000 inhabitants perished. Only four years later, the Turks again attacked the city, this time with a colossal army in relation to Vienna's defense. With the help of German and Polish armies, the powerful Turks were overcome and Vienna flourished again. Construction almost exploded, and it was the start of the Baroque period.

    Maria Theresia and Napoleon
    Vienna underwent a golden era with Maria Theresia as Empress and subsequently Joseph II. Reforms in favor of the citizens were introduced, Schönbrunn was listed as Vienna's response to Versailles, and the music thrived with well-known inhabitants such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert.

    Napoleon occupied Vienna in 1805-1809, and it hit hard on the Habsburgs, who among other things had to give the German crown. The economy of the Habsburgs and Vienna was strained, and the Vienna Congress in 1814-1815 only started the development.

    It became a revolution in 1848, when the emperor was replaced by 18-year-old Franz Josef I. Under his rule, Ringgaden was built with its splendid buildings in Vienna, and in 1867 the kingdom of the Habsburgs was changed to the double monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Vienna's cultural life flourished and the creative environment attracted many artists.

    The Empire, 1900s and today
    Emperor Franz Josef died in 1916, and in 1918 the Habsburg Empire was dissolved. In 1922, Vienna became a state in the new Austrian republic.

    Vienna's status as a capital temporarily erected in 1938, when Austria became part of Adolf Hitler's Germany. Since then, the country was part of World War II, and as a result of the war, much of Vienna was destroyed in the years 1944-1945. After the end of World War II, both the city of Vienna and the country of Austria were divided into 4 zones.

    It took until 1955 before the entire Republic of Austria was established and a great economic development took place. One of the examples of Vienna's positive development came when Vienna was elected in 1979 as one of the three UN administration cities.

    In 1995, Austria and thus Vienna became part of the European Union and today it emerges as a modern capital with its many traditions and buildings, which are impressive reminiscent of the kingdom of the Habsburgs. Several major international events have also taken place over the decades; for example, in 2008 when the final of the European football championships was held in the Austrian capital.
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Top attractions

Stephansdom, Vienna

  • St. Stephen's Cathedral/Stephansdom: This is Vienna's Cathedral, and it is one of the city's famous landmarks. Its history goes back to the 12th century, and the interior is highly see-worthy, but expanded over the centuries. In the interior of the church you can see a number of beautiful altars such as the main altar from the 17th century.
  • Hundertwasserhaus: The residential complex Hundertwasserhaus is one of Vienna's most visited and photographed places, and when faced with its many colors, trees and shrubs on top as well as crooked angles, you understand why.
  • Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel/Wiener Riesenrad: The Wiener Riesenrad is a 65-meter-/213-feet-high Ferris wheel that was built as a technical masterpiece in 1897. There is a beautiful view from the cabins on the Riesenrad, and you can see its history in an exhibition at the entrance to the wheel.

Karlskirche, Vienna

  • St Charles Church/Karlskirche: Karlskirche is the most important church in Austria after Vienna's cathedral, St. Stephen's Cathedral. The impressive Baroque church was built in the years 1716-1737 by Emperor Charles VI, and inside there is a beautiful decoration and several noteable works of art.
  • Hofburg: The great castle complex of Hofburg was the heart of the Habsburgs' kingdom and empire for many centuries since 1279. Today it is still the official residence of the Austrian president, and there are many fine rooms, halls and museums here. You should therefore see, for example, the Treasury and the Palace Church.
  • Heroes' Square/Heldenplatz: Heldenplatz is the central square in front of the Vienna's grand palace of Hofburg. From here you can clearly see the grandness and wealth of the Habsburg empire with i.a. The Hofburg building. Historically, it was on this square that Austria formally became part of Germany in 1938.

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

  • Schönbrunn Palace/Schloß Schönbrunn: The Schönbrunn Palace, which was the summer residence of the Habsburgs, is one of Europe's finest and most impressive Baroque castles. The palace was designed by Johann Fischer von Erlach and built from 1696. Later on, Empress Maria Theresia had the castle rebuilt in the Rococo of the time, and today you can enjoy the magnificent interior.
  • Parliament Building/Parlamentsgebäude: Austria's parliament building was built by the Danish architect Theophil Edvard Hansen in the period 1874-1883. The building style is monumental Greek, and Hansen designed both the exterior and the interior as an ensemble.
  • Votiv Church/Votivkirche: Votivkirche is the city's most important neo-Gothic monument and among the most impressive in the world in this style. It was erected in gratitude by Emperor Franz Josef I for surviving an assassination attempt in 1853.
Trips in the area

Zentralfriedhof, Vienna

  • Central Cemetery/Zentralfriedhof: This is Vienna's central cemetery and, with a vast area, is one of the largest in the world. More than three million people are buried in the cemetery. Here you can see the church Friedhofskirche and grave monuments for Beethoven, Johannes Brahms and others.
  • UNO-City: UNO-City is the name for the UN buildings in Vienna. The houses in the complex were built 1973-1979 and they stand as a kind of circles tied together by rounded buildings.
  • Danube Tower/Donauturm: In the middle of the green area of Donaupark stands the tower, Donauturm, which was built from 1962-1964 as a viewing tower. Donauturm is 252 meters/827 feet high with the viewing balcony located at 150 meters/492 feet.
  • Carnuntum: Carnuntum was the civil center of the Roman colonization of the Austrian area. In the 100-300s, the city was at its highest and had about 50,000 inhabitants. As an archaeological site, the Carnuntum is now an open-air museum.

Bratislava, Slovakia

  • Bratislava: Not far to the east of Vienna is Slovakia's capital Bratislava located. It was called Preßburg until 1916 as a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the city on the Danube, there are countless sights concentrated in the old town and by the beautiful castle.
  • Klosterneuburg: The city of Klosterneuburg is located just north of Vienna, elevated above the Danube River. The town's name derives from the Augustinian monastery founded here in 1114 by Leopold III. The monastery is today the city's main attraction, but there are other things to see as well.
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