Vienna’s history dates back to the first post-Christian century when the Romans established the military camp Vindobona. Today’s cityscape is characterized 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.
Schloss Schönbrunn, the former imperial summer residence, is one of the most popular sights. The imposing palace with the beautifully tended formal gardens, the Gloriette monument, the Palm House, and the zoo attract a great number of visitors each year. The vast Hofburg (Imperial Palace) was once the home of the Habsburg family for over six centuries, and is an impressive repository of culture and heritage.
Today the splendid baroque Belvedere Palace houses the Österreichische Galerie (Austrian Gallery) displaying the largest collection of works by Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka as well as famous paintings by Egon Schiele. Vienna’s prime landmarks are the gothic 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: Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna with the world’s largest collection of Bruegel paintings, MuseumsQuartier with Leopold Museum (Schiele), Museum Moderner Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Architekturzentrum (Architectural Center) 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 composers 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, the Vienna Boys’ Choir one the world’s most famous. In the last years Vienna has also established itself as a great musical metropolis.
In Vienna, old coffee houses and rustic wine taverns stand alongside with top restaurants and shops, time-honored events alternate with internationally-acclaimed extravaganzas (Life Ball) to create a unique and very special ambiance. Another special feature of Vienna are its many green spaces and recreational areas such as the Wienerwald, the Prater and the Donauinsel.