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Austria: Small is beautiful, Attractions for Industry, Influence of the Church, Shot That Started a War, Magnificent Capital City, Vienna, Kitzbuhel, Lower Austria, Linz, Salzburg, Graz

Vienna (Wien)

Vienna, Austria

Once the capital of the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918), Vienna now rules over Austria alone and is the capital that is almost too large for its country. Set mostly on the right hank of the Danube in north-cast Austria, Vienna is also a separate state and the capital of LOWER AUSTRIA. Divided into 23 districts, the city is grouped in two sweeping circles around the historic Inner City.

The modern city grew after the removal, in the late 1850s, of the ramparts guarding the Inner City and the building of the 4 km (2.5 mile) long Ringstrasse boulevard along their site. Most of the city's main and most imposing buildings are lined along the Ringstrasse. They include the handsome Opera House; the Hofburg, the old imperial palace (another stands in formerly suburban SCHONBRUNN); the neo-Gothic Rathaus (City Hall); the Greek-style Houses of Parliament; the Burgtheater (City Theatre) and the Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. In the centre of the city is the Cathedral of St. Stephen, Austria's finest Gothic church, built in the 14th and 15th centuries.

For centuries, Vienna has been a meeting-place for East and West and it now has the headquarters of several world agencies, including the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the UN International Atomic Agency. Recently, Vienna has expanded along the main route to the south. Large new shopping complexes have gone up, rivalling the busy shopping street of Mariahilferstrasse and the traditional shops found in Karntner Strasse and Am Graben.

Although Vienna is noted for its industries -which include clothing, electronics, paper, chemicals and beer it is one of the world's great tourist centres. People flock there to savour the atmosphere of a city which began life as a Celtic settlement, was later a Roman camp, and from 1273 to 1918 was the home of the powerful Hapsburg dynasty. At the end of the First World War it became the capital of Austria, and in March 1938 the Nazis entered the city and Austria became part of Germany. Because of this, Vienna was severely bombed by the Allies in the Second World War.

In 1945 it was split into four zones, which were occupied until 1955 by Britain, the USA, USSR and France. It was against this background that the English writer Graham Greene set his script for the thriller film The Third Man, complete with its catchy theme tune played on the zither. Indeed, Vienna is a city of music, the home of the waltz and the birthplace in 1825 of Johann Strauss the Younger, who wrote more than 400 waltzes, including The Blue Danube and Tales from the Vienna Woods. Musicians' Square, in the Central Cemetery, is the burial place of Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert, whose music is regularly heard in the city.

Population 1 531 000

Next: Kitzbuhel

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