Vienna’s history dates back to the first post-Christian century when the Romans established the military camp Vindobona. Today’s cityscape is characterised by the abundance of Baroque buildings created mostly under the rule of Empress Maria Theresia and Emperor Franz Joseph, who was largely responsible for the monumental architecture round the Ringstraße. To experience Vienna at its fullest, we have created this guide on Vienna highlights.
Schloss Schönbrunn, the former imperial summer residence, is one of the most popular sights. The sumptuous palace with the beautifully tended formal gardens, the Gloriette monument, the Palm House, and the zoo attract hordes of visitors each year. The huge Hofburg (Imperial Palace) was the base of the Habsburgs for over six centuries, and is an impressive repository of culture and heritage.
The splendid baroque Belvedere Palace today houses the Österreichische Galerie (Austrian Gallery) displaying the largest collection of works by Klimt and Kokoschka as well as famous paintings by Schiele. Vienna’s prime landmarks are the gothic Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral), the Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater, Vienna’s old recreational park, and the Spanish Riding School with their world-famous Lipizzaner horses.
Vienna has more museums and galleries of international reputation than you can shake a stick at: Kunsthistorischen Museum with the world’s largest collection of Bruegel paintings, MuseumsQuartier with the Leopold Museum (Schiele), Museum Moderner Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Architekturzentrum (Architectural Centre) and Kunsthalle rank among the city's most important cultural venues. The Albertina is home to the world’s largest collection of graphic arts and prints (60,000 drawings, 1 million prints).
Vienna owes much of its international fame to the many celebrated composer who lived and worked here including Strauß, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the world’s best, the Staatsoper one of the world’s leading opera houses, and the Vienna Boys’ Choir one the world’s most famous. Vienna has established itself as a great musical metropolis.
In Vienna, traditional coffee houses, rustic wine taverns, and the beloved sausage stand (Wuerstelstand) exist alongside top restaurants and shops. Time-honoured events alternate with internationally-acclaimed extravaganzas (Life Ball) to create a unique and very special ambiance. Another special feature of Vienna is its many green spaces and recreational areas such as the Wienerwald, the Prater, and the Donauinsel.