Vienna Travel Guide

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Vienna Travel Guide

Vienna Local History

Vienna was first documented as a city in 1137 when it was ruled by the Bavarian Babenberg dukes. In 1521, his father Rudolf of Habsburg granted Ferdinand Habsburg the fiefdom of Austria. The 16th and 17th centuries, Vienna was faced with several external threats. Suleiman the Magnificent and his marauding Turks besieged the city for 18 days in 1528. Ferdinand I moved his court to the city in 1533 as a protective measure. In 1683, the Turks besieged the city once again, bringing with them this time, a strange new brew called coffee. A combined force of German and Polish soldiers removed the Turks, resulting in a triumphant frenzy of building in Vienna.

The Golden era of Maria Theresa and her son Joseph II saw a period where the erection of palaces took place. The imperial nose was put out of joint by the Napoleonic occupations of 1805 and 1809 where the Habsburg emperor was forced to give up the German crown and the title of Holy Roman Emperor, and the battle with Napoleon left Vienna on the brink of bankruptcy. The disenfranchised general population joined in the revolutions of 1848, which led to a new emperor, Franz Josef I. The city benefited from being at the helm of the new Austro- Hungarian monarchy.

Vienna suffered economically with the loss of empire, which resulted from World War I, and so began the era with the post war election of the Social Democrats. Allied bombing was heavy in Vienna in the last two years of World War II and most of the major public building were damaged or destroyed with some 86,000 homes. At the end of the war Vienna was divided into four sections and controlled alternatively by the USA, the Soviet Union, Britain and France on a monthly basis. The Allied forced withdrew in 1955 and Austria joined the United Nations.

Vienna Attractions

Top Attractions

Schloss Schonbrunn This palace is one of Vienna's most popular attractions. There are 2000 rooms, of which you can visit 40. There is a classically landscaped garden, a maze and the world's oldest zoo. The Great Gallery holds gilded scrolls, ceiling frescoes, chandeliers and huge crystal mirrors. Mozart played his first royal concert in the Mirror Room in 1762 in the presence of Maria Theresa and the royal family. The Round Chinese Room is where Maria Theresa held secret consultations, a hidden doorway led to her adviser's apartments and a table could be drawn up through the floor so that the dignitaries could dine without being disturbed.

Stephansdom The dominating feature of the church is the 136-meter Sudturm (south tower). There is a cramped viewing platform and you can see the enchanting postcard view of Vienna. Sudturm took 75 years to build and houses Austria's largest bell, the Pummerin ('boomer bell') On the tiled roof is a the dazzling showing of chevrons on one end and the Austrian eagle on the other. The cathedral was badly damaged during a fire in 1945, donations from all over Austria poured in and the cathedral was completely rebuilt and reopened three years later.

Krems This peaceful town is 60 minutes away from Vienna and lies along the river's northern banks, surrounded by vineyards. Here you can take a quiet wander along the cobbled streets, enjoying the empty courtyards, churches and the atmospheric city walls. Not forgetting, being so close to the vineyards, you can enjoy wine tasting. A highlight when visiting Krems is to take a boat trip from Krems to the monastery town of Melk.

Hofburg The oldest part of the Imperial Palace is the Schweizerhop (Swiss Courtyard) named after the Swiss guards who used to protect it. The 22 rooms in the Kaiserappartements (Imperial Apartments) are filled with fine furniture, bulbous crystal chandeliers and tapestries. In the Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury) are the collection of crown jewels and religious relics, which include fragments of the cross, a nail from the crucifixion and a thorn from Christ's crown. The Gothic Burgkapelle (Royal Chapel) is where the Vienna Boy's Choir sings at Sunday Mass.

Billys Bones Just off schlikplatz in the 9th district. Good food, beer , music, and laughs!
submitted by Rob, 12/05/05

Vienna Shopping

Almost every street in Vienna has shops in it. Many you won't notice as you walk past, but there are some that are incredible. The two main shopping centers are Mariahilfer Strasse and Kotner Strasse. Josefstoer strasse is a traditional Viennese high street with lots of little shops selling anything and everything imaginable.

Vienna Activities

Vienna Parks & Gardens

Burggarten This fabulous garden is located in the first district of Vienna and is close to the Hofburg and the Opera house. Some very famous monuments can be found here including a monument of Emperor Franz Joseph I, and Mozart. The 'butterfly house was constructed in 1901, which contains hundreds of free-flying tropical butterflies in a real tropical environment.

Rathauspark This Park, was designed when Emperor Franz Joseph I decided to remove the parade ground. The park has a highly varied selection of woody plants.

Stadtpark This park has a different environment from each direction which you approach the park. From the 'Stadtbahn' railway pavilions you can enjoy the Viennese Art Nouveau, from the third district you will find a contemporary steel sculpture by Donald Judd, and from the Ringstrasse you will walk along a shady path and be surprised by the airy park meadows and the Johann Strauss monument.

Danube Island/Donauinsel This is a recreational Mecca with countless bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Here you can enjoy a wealth of sports from roller blading to canoeing. This is actually a highly sophisticated flood protection system stretching for 21 kilometers. A second bed was dug out throwing up a strip of land, which is the Danube Island.

Vienna Restaurants and Bars

Vienna has a diverse yet delectable range of dishes, which reflects the cities diverse nationalities and food cultures through the centuries.

Vienna Restaurants

Central Located at 1, Herrengasse 14. Central is the most famous of all the Viennese cafe's and one of the most architecturally interesting.

Palmenhaus Located at 1, Burggarten. This Cafe has a backdrop of palms from the greenhouse in the Burggarten. The food is inexpensive and great, and occasionally at night there are DJ's to entertain you.

Kiang Located at 1 Rotgasse 8. This is Vienna's famous Chinese restaurant. The decor is loud and there are huge fish-bowl windows. The food is prepared in front of you.

Margherita Located at 1, Wallnerstrasse 4. This is a smart, busy pizza and pasta restaurant. Pizzas are cooked in a lava oven and are delicious.

Vienna Bars & Clubs

First Floor Located at 1, Seitenstettengasse 1. This bar is an upstairs bar and has a vast array of aquariums and has a very sophisticated crowd.

Krah Krah Located at 1, Rabensteig 8. This crowded bar is known for its excellent selection of draught and bottled beers. There is an occasional live band.

Flanagan's Located at 1, Schwarzenbergerstrasse 1 3. This is the best of Vienna's Irish pubs. Here you have Guinness and Kilkenny on tap, great Irish food and a big-screen for those who love sport.

Volksgarten Located at 1, Burgring 1. This is Vienna's longest-running club and a firm favorite with the dance crowd. In the summer time there is an outdoor dance floor.

Vienna children's activities

Vienna Weekend Breaks

Top 10 things to do in Vienna for a weekend.


Useful Vienna Links

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Young Vienna City Guide
City guide focusing on the younger and student traveller to Vienna, featuring comprehensive info on history, restaurants and nightlife

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