|At one time, Vienna was the capital of the multi-nation Habsburg Empire, the world-center of medicine, the arts, literature and the good life. Today it is the capital of a small country and a shadow of its glorious past. However, much of it is still in evidence. The magnificent buildings and palaces are still standing and there is much for visitors to explore.
Vienna has 23 Bezirke (districts), Number 1 being the Innere Stadt (Inner City) around the Stephansdom cathedral. The district is circled by the Ringstraße, which retraces the old city walls. In addition to the cathedral, the inner city includes many treasured landmarks: the Hofburg Palace, the Burgtheater, City Hall, the Opera House and the Kunsthistorische Museum.
The Hofburg Palace was the seat of emperors of the Holy Roman Empire as well as the Habsburgs before 1918. Today it is a museum and the seat of the President of Austria. Some sections date back to the 13th century and others include ceremonial objects of past empires.
Other palacial complexes are the Belvedere and Schönbrunn, both major tourist attractions. Schönbrunn has more than five million vistors per year, is surrounded by magnificent sculpted gardens and offers classical performances in its resplendent concert halls. Belvedere, in the third district, was, in the 18th century, a summer residence for royalty with baroque sculptures, fountains and formal gardens. Today it is a museum housing various art collections.
The Kunsthistorische Museum was originally commissioned to house the Habsburgs' huge art collection. Today it is the venue for a multitude of fascinating exhibits.
The Wiener Staatsoper is a venerable institution, closely associated with the Vienna Philharmonic. Gustav Mahler and Herbert von Karajan were the opera company's directors. The Philharmonic performs at the Musikverein.
The Vienna Secession was an organization of Viennese artists that came into being at the beginning of the 20th century. It and the Wiener Werkstätte revolutionized art and design and included such famous artists and designers as Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Max Kurzweil, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser. Today, the Secession Building celebrates the accomplishments of that generation.
The Vienna trademark is the Wiener Riesenrad, a 200 foot ferris wheel in the Prater Amusement Park in the second district. It is one of Vienna's top attractions.
Exceptional Hotels in Vienna, top-rated by guest reviewers, are listed at the bottom of the page.