Vienna is the capital city of Austria, with a population of about 1.757 million; it is the cultural, economic, and political center of Austria. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century it was the largest german-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in WW1 the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today it is the second only to Berlin in German speakers. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations (specifically the IAEA) and OPEC. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why we love Vienna:

The impressive St. Stephen's Cathedral

The impressive St. Stephen's Cathedral

Stephansdom or St. Stephen's Cathedral is the most important religious building in Austria's capital; not only witnessing many important events in the nation's history, but also becoming one of Vienna’s most recognisable symbols. Founded in 1137 following the Treaty of Mautern, the partially constructed Romanesque church was solemnly dedicated in 1147 to Saint Stephen in the presence of Conrad III of Germany, Bishop Otto of Freising and other German nobles. Although the first structure was completed in 1160, major reconstruction and expansion lasted until 1511 and repair and restoration projects still continue to this day. The Cathedral has 23 bells and the largest hangs in the north tower and is officially named for St. Mary, but is usually called Pummerin (Boomer). Weighing a huge 20,130KG (44,380 pounds), it is the largest in Austria and the second largest swinging bell in Europe, after the 23,500kg (51,800 pound) Cologne Cathedral. Originally cast in 1711 from cannons from the Turkish siege, it was recast, still partly from its original metal in 1951, after hurtling to the floor when its wooden cradle burned in the 1945 fire. The present day west wall and Romanesque towers date from 1230 to 1245. However, in 1258 a great fire destroyed much of the original building and a larger replacement structure. Reusing the two towers, it was repaired over the ruins of the old church and consecrated on 23rd April 1263. The anniversary of this second consecration is commemorated each year by a rare ringing of the Pummerin bell for three minutes in the evening. 


Night view of the Vienna State Opera

Night view of the Vienna State Opera

Vienna State Opera, originally called the Vienna Court Opera (Wiener Hofoper), it was renamed the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper), with the replacement of the Habsburg Monarchy by the First Republic of Austria in 1920. The neo-Renaissance style building dates back to the mid-19th century and was designed by August von Siccardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll. It initially received criticism that the roof was too simple and the building too low in comparison with the Heinrichshof, later replaced by the banal Opernringhof. This harsh criticism eventually led to the suicide of van der Nüll, one year before the opening of the new opera house. His devastated colleague died two months later from a heart attack. On the 12th March 1945 during WWII, the State Opera was hit during an air raid when an allied bomber allegedly mistook it for a train station. The interior was completely destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt in 1955 by Erich Boltenstern, following the original design. Today, it has a worldwide reputation for its top opera performances and its very famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. An evening at the State Opera is one of the most impressive events that can be experienced in Vienna. With the programme changing daily, 50 operas and 15 ballets are presented on 300 days of the year. Every year the stage and orchestra stalls of the Vienna State Opera turn into a huge dance floor for the Vienna Opera Ball. Over one hundred debutante couples in long evening dress and tailcoats open the ball in the presence of the Austrian Federal President.


The Hofburg also houses the OSCE Permanent Council

The Hofburg also houses the OSCE Permanent Council

Hofburg Palace The sprawling Court Palace complex was the bastion of the Habsburg monarchs, who ruled over Austria - and at times many other regions of Europe - for more than six centuries, from 1276 until the downfall of the Habsburgs in 1918. Today the Hofburg is a tourist hub and attracts visitors from all over the world to see the royal apartments, chapel, church, library, riding school and the many museums. The complex consists of eighteen wings with over 2000 rooms designed in a wide range of architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque and Neo-classicist. The Palace remains the centre of government for Austria, but these days the occupier is a democratic republic rather than kings and queens. It currently serves as the official residence of the President of Austria. The Hapsburgs bodies (about 150 in all) have been laid to rest in the Capuchin Crypt. Their hearts are in the Augustinian Church and their entrails are in the crypt below St. Stephan's Cathedral.


City Hall (Rathaus) was designed in the Neo-Gothic style by Friedrich von Schmidt and built between 1872 and 1883. Modelled on Flemish city halls, its main spire soars to 335ft (102m), with the inclusion of the pennant held by iron standard-bearer - the Rathausmann who guards the City Hall. Cast from melted-down Russian kopecks, he is 5.4m tall (3.4m without his flagpole) and weighs 650KG. The statue of Rathausmann is similar to a knight, but in Renaissance style armour. According to rumour, the armour was inspired by the kit worn by the legendary Emperor Maximilian I, who was also called "the last knight". His armour can be seen in the Hofjagd and Rüstkammer in the nearby Hofburg. The large and impressive City Hall occupies a Grade A site by the Ringstraße, between the Houses of Parliament and the University. It is the place where the city′s council meets and also the mayor of Vienna. Since the capital has the rank of a federal province, the council also serves as a provincial parliament and the mayor as a governor.


Aerial view of Volksgarten

Aerial view of Volksgarten

Volksgarten (People’s Park) is a public park, built over the city fortifications destroyed by Napoleon. Opened to the public in the 1820s, the park is famous for its rose gardens, the Theseus temple (1819-1823) by Peter von Nobile and the monument for Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (Sissi) (1907) by Friedrich Ohmann. There are also statues of the poets Franz Grillparzer and Karl von Hasenauer. After Napoleon demolished the Burgbastei - a bastion near the imperial palace in 1809, the open space was used to create two gardens. The Burggarten was exclusively for the imperial family and the Volksgarten was made accessible to the public soon after it opened. In 1857 the garden was extended when the remaining city fortifications were torn down.


Note: All information & pictures from Wikipedia.org