Last Updated: 5th Apr 2012
by – Matt Vernick, Tour Manager, Europe
Vienna, (German: Wien) the capital of Austria, began as the Roman military camp of Vindabonum and after the retreat of the Romans was invaded and rebuilt many times. The city and region was ruled by the Babenberg family until 1278 when they were surpassed by the Hapsburgs, arguably one of the greatest royal families in European history. Under their rule Austria expanded into an empire that covered over half of Europe with some of the family’s most famous members including Marie Therese, Marie Antoinette, Franz Josef and Franz Ferdinand.
Culture thrived under the Hapsburg dynasty and Vienna quickly became the musical capital of Europe with composers like Beethoven living and working in the city. Vienna is however most famous for it’s homegrown talent and still today the sounds of Mozart and Strauss can be heard in concerts throughout the city.
The Austrian Empire provided the spark for the First World War and at the end of the War in 1918 the royal family was deposed, sent into exile and a Republic of Austria was established only to be overrun by the Nazi’s in 1938. At the end of the Second World War there was an explosion of economic growth and reconstruction but the city still today retains its Imperial majesty.
Today, over 1.5 million people call Vienna home and the city has a cosmopolitan feeling rivaling Paris. Vienna is filled with great buildings, shops, café’s museums, art, culture and history.
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Christmas Markets in Vienna are great. Buy some mulled wine (Gluhwein in German)which is served hot and is quite spicy. The mug it comes in is yours to keep – a great souvenir -but if you don’t want it return it and get your €2 deposit back (Pfand).
Visit the catacombs below St. Stephens … and the view from the belltower is pretty good too.