Vienna was originally a Celtic city founded around 500 BC.
In 15 BC, it became a frontier city ("Vindobona") guarding the Roman
Empire against the German tribes to the north. In the Middle Ages, it became
the home of the Babenberg and later, the
Habsburg dynasties and through the latter the capital of the Holy Roman Empire
and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Ottoman Turkish invasions of Europe
in the 16th and 17th centuries were stopped two times in total at Vienna. See
the Battle of Vienna (1683). In 1815, Vienna was the site of the Congress of
Vienna which redrew national boundaries in Europe after the defeat of Napoleon
Bonaparte at Waterloo.
Due to the industrialization and immigration from other parts of the Empire, the population of Vienna increased sharply during its time as capital of Austria-Hungary (1867-1918). However, after World War I, many Czechs and Hungarians returned to their ancestral countries, which resulted in a decline in the population. Following the immigration at that time, about one third of the population of Vienna was of Slavic or Hungarian descent. In 1918 after World War I Vienna became capital of the First Austrian Republic.
During the Cold War, Vienna was a hotbed of international espionage owning to its location in neutral Austria, between the Western and Eastern blocs.
The fall of the Habsburg Empire, at the end of World War I, allowed Vienna’s socialist undercurrents to come to the fore during the ‘Red Vienna’ period, resulting in numerous social housing and other projects, which still play a role in the city. Vienna’s occupation by the Nazis and subsequent partitioning by the four Allied powers tend to be forgotten, as the city instead focuses on its post-war neutrality and the glittering remnants of its Imperial glory.
The city is not only the capital of Austria but also a federal province as well, surrounded by Niederösterreich (Lower Austria). Vienna’s location on the east–west trade route along the River Danube played an important part in its history – an empire that once covered a large part of Europe was ruled from here. Even today, Vienna is the financial and administrative capital of Austria and home to a number of international organizations, including the United Nations.
Vienna (Wien) is a unique blend of the historic and the modern, so full of tradition it can be read on the face of the city, yet with a forward-looking approach that will surprise the visitor. Vienna’s role as the seat of the Habsburg Empire for centuries can be seen in the wealth of architecture and in the city’s artistic and musical heritage. Many of the world’s most important composers, including Beethoven and Mozart, have lived and performed behind Vienna’s Baroque façades. In addition to this Baroque splendor, there are excellent examples of the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture that also flourished here.
Vienna is divided into 23 Bezirke (districts). The original city that lay within
the protective walls comprises the First District of modern Vienna. The demolition
of the city walls led to the construction of the Ringstrasse and an impressive
parade of buildings along its length. The majority of the tourist attractions
lie on and within the Ringstrasse. Districts two to nine are arrayed between
the Ringstrasse and the concentric Gürtel (Belt). The other districts lie
beyond the Gürtel and extend into the foothills of the Wienerwald (Vienna
Woods), where Heurigen (wine taverns) and pretty villages are dotted among the
Vienna's inner city is outlined by the Ringstrasse - a wide, tree-lined boulevard uncrowded by cars, trams, bikes or pedestrians. Many important sights line this ring road - including the Stadt Park (with its Strauss monument), Opera House, Hofburg Palace, a cluster of big museums, Parliament and the imposing Rathaus (City Hall). Saturday night at 10pm sees hundreds of skaters travelling around the Ringstrasse - legally.
Pedestrianised Kartner Strasse runs from the Opera House/Ringstrasse junction down to the spectacular St. Stephen's cathedral and offers many diversions en route. This is an area that demands random walks of discovery.
Vienna’s climate is generally moderate, although the city can experience
heavy snowfalls and low temperatures from December to March, as well as occasionally
very high temperatures in July and August. Summer, however, is usually comfortable
with an average daily temperature of 20°C, although heavy thundershowers
Climate in ViennaWinters tend to be cold, with lots of rain and occasional snow. The weather stays warm during September and early October but gets progressively colder after that. Arguably the best time for visiting Vienna is spring and autumn (fall), when the city enjoys lots of sunshine and crisp, clear weather.