It is difficult not to be moved to hum a Brahms lullaby or a Strauss waltz as you explore the sights of Austria's beautiful Baroque capital, Vienna, which for centuries was the centre of the splendid Hapsburg Empire. The city remains infused with the grand imperial spirit in the form of magnificent palaces and grand mansions peppering the Innerestadt.
Electric Vienna Austria © kainet
The city's cultural heritage is mainly musical, the great composers like Strauss, Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn, and Mozart all having lived and performed here. Today, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the State Opera House help keep alive the city's tradition by offering more classical music performances a year than any other city in the world.
Vienna is a city of music, but it is also synonymous with gourmet fare, cream cakes, superb coffee, the angelic strains of the Vienna Boys' Choir, and the proud prancing of the Lippizaner stallions at the world-famous Spanish Riding School.
Vienna started out as a Celtic settlement on the banks of the Danube and became one of Rome's most important central European bases. Its central location on the strategic river contributed to the city becoming the stronghold of a mighty empire, reaching its peak during the tumultuous reign of the dazzling Hapsburg dynasty.
At the end of the 19th century, the golden age of empire began to decline as Vienna's coffee houses filled with radical intellectuals like Freud, Klimt, and Mahler. The Second World War Nazi occupation left scars, but Vienna survived it all to remain a captivating capital that blends Italian romanticism with a Germanic orderliness.
Most of the city's tourist attractions are within the largely pedestrianised inner city area, which was once enclosed by the city walls. The walls have been replaced with the Ringstrasse, a wide ring road. Further out in the suburbs is the thrilling Prater amusement park with its massive Ferris wheel, and the opulent Schonbrunn summer palace. Visitors also should not miss a trip to the Vienna Woods, peppered with heurigen (wine taverns).
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