Vienna is the national capital, largest city, and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's most populous city, with about 2.6 million inhabitants within the metropolitan area, and its cultural, economic, and political center. It is the 6th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. In 2001, the city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Last updated on: 27 April 2020
Vienna's ancestral roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that transformed into a Medieval and Baroque city. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. It is well known for having played a pivotal role as a leading European music center, from the age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century.
In 2001, the city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger because of few modern constructions. Additionally to being known as the "City of Music" due to its musical legacy, Vienna is also said to be the "City of Dreams", because of it being home to the world's first psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.
The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque palaces and gardens, and the late-19th-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations, OPEC and the OSCE.
Vienna is known for its high quality of life. In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first (in a tie with Vancouver and San Francisco) for the world's most liveable cities. Between 2011 and 2015, Vienna was ranked second, behind Melbourne. In 2018, it replaced Melbourne as the number one spot and continued as the first in 2019.
The heart and historical city of Vienna, a large part of today's Innere Stadt, was a fortress surrounded by fields in order to defend itself from potential attackers. In 1850, Vienna with the consent of the emperor annexed 34 surrounding villages into the city limits. Consequently, the walls were razed after 1857, making it possible for the city center to expand.
Art and culture had a long tradition in Vienna, including theatre, opera, classical music and fine arts. The Burgtheater is considered one of the best theaters in the German-speaking world alongside its branch, the Akademietheater. There is also a multitude of smaller theaters, in many cases devoted to less mainstream forms of the performing arts, such as modern, experimental plays or cabaret.
Vienna is also home to a number of opera houses, including the Theater an der Wien, the Staatsoper and the Volksoper, the latter being devoted to the typical Viennese operetta.
Vienna attracts over 6.8 million tourists a year. Major tourist attractions include the imperial palaces of the Hofburg and Schönbrunn (also home to the world's oldest zoo, Tiergarten Schönbrunn) and the Riesenrad in the Prater. Cultural highlights include the Burgtheater, the Wiener Staatsoper, the Lipizzaner horses at the spanische Hofreitschule, and the Vienna Boys' Choir, as well as excursions to Vienna's district Döbling.
Tourists also attracted by Vienna's culinary specialties. Vienna is well known for Wiener Schnitzel, a cutlet of veal or pork that is pounded flat, coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, and fried in clarified butter. It is available in almost every restaurant that serves Viennese cuisine and can be eaten hot or cold. Other examples of Viennese cuisine include very lean boiled beef, which is traditionally served with boiled potatoes mashed with a fork and subsequently fried and horseradish sauce, a mixture of horseradish, cream and apple and a chives sauce made with mayonnaise and stale bread.
Vienna has a long tradition of producing cakes and desserts. These include hot apple strudel, milk-cream strudel, sweet pancakes, and dumplings often filled with fruit such as apricots. A delicately moist chocolate cake with apricot jam created by the Sacher Hotel, is world-famous. In winter, small street stands sell traditional hot chestnuts and potato fritters.
Sausages are popular and available from street vendors throughout the day and into the night. The sausage known as Wiener in the U.S. and in Germany, is called a Frankfurter in Vienna. Other popular sausages are Burenwurst (a coarse beef and pork sausage, generally boiled), Käsekrainer (spicy pork with small chunks of cheese), and Bratwurst (a white pork sausage).
Vienna, along with Paris, Santiago, Cape Town, Prague, Canberra, Bratislava and Warsaw, is one of the few remaining world capital cities with its own vineyards. The wine is served in small Viennese pubs known as Heuriger. The wine is often drunk with sparkling water. The Grüner Veltliner, a dry white wine, is the most widely cultivated wine in Austria.
Beer is next in importance to wine. Vienna has a single large brewery, Ottakringer, and more than ten microbreweries. A "Beisl" is a typical small Austrian pub, of which Vienna has many.
Viennese cafés have an extremely long and distinguished history that dates back centuries, and the caffeine addictions of some famous historical patrons of the oldest are something of a local legend. These coffee houses are unique to Vienna and many cities have unsuccessfully sought to copy them. Some people consider cafés as their extended living room where nobody will be bothered if they spend hours reading a newspaper while enjoying their coffee. Traditionally, the coffee comes with a glass of water. Viennese cafés claim to have invented the process of filtering coffee from booty captured after the second Turkish siege in 1683.
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