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Vienna: a Hapsburg-style capital

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The territory of the capital of Austria, Vienna, is the smallest state (Bundesländer) of Austria by size, while in terms of population it ranks first. The federal state of Vienna, which is located in the eastern part of the country, is completely surrounded by the territory of Lower Austria.

In 2001, UNESCO included the historic center of Vienna and the Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens as World Heritage Sites. The city is also the headquarters of OPEC, and one of the three UN headquarters is also located here, the others are in New York and Geneva.


Inhabited since the third millennium BC, the area of Vienna was occupied, starting from the fourth century BC, by a fortified Celtic settlement. In the first century A.D. the Romans founded the fortified camp of Vindobona where the X legion Gemina was stationed. Then in the third century the city was elevated to the status of a municipality. Finally in the 5th century the city was destroyed by the barbarian raids.

In the Middle Ages, the Vienna area was occupied by the Huns, the Goths, the Lombards and the Marcomans. Starting from the 10th century, thanks to its position along important communication routes, the city began a new development becoming an important commercial center. Then, in the 12th century, under the Babenbergs, it was surrounded by fortifications and in the 13th century it obtained the status of a city.


At the end of the 13th century, Vienna became a possession of the Habsburgs, a dynasty to which the city was linked until the end of the First World War. At the beginning of the 15th century Vienna became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, experiencing an extremely flourishing period between the 15th and 16th centuries, especially during the reign of Maximilian I.

In 1529 the city was besieged for the first time by the Ottoman Turks, the siege failed, but more due to the weather conditions and epidemics, than to the fortifications of the city. This fact led to the decision that new defense works were indispensable. In the following years Vienna was surrounded by a wall reinforced by eleven bastions and a moat. In 1683 the city was again besieged by the Turks, to which it resisted for two months, thanks to the new defense works, it was saved by the arrival of the troops of the king of Poland, Jan Sobieski.

In the following centuries Vienna developed into one of the major European cities and the capital of the great Hapsburg Empire. Empire that in its heyday extended from Lombardy to Ukraine, and from Prague and Krakow to the Balkans. Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the city was enriched with wonderful Baroque and Rococo palaces, becoming one of the main cultural centers of the continent. In this period Vienna was also the capital of European music, attracting and hosting musicians such as Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven, Schönberg, Salieri.


Vienna is located on the right bank of the Danube, in particular along one of the canalized branches of the river, the Donaukanal. While between the river and the slopes of the Viennese Forest (Wienerwald), there is a low mountain range, rich in woods, the last offshoot of the Austrian Alps. Its past as a great imperial capital is clearly visible in its urban structure and its marvelous palaces and churches.

Among the most beautiful buildings in the city are the Hofburg, the imperial palace of the Habsburgs, with the Treasury Hall (Schatzkammer) and the nearby Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule). The most important religious building is the Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom). While other palaces that bring back to the past Habsburg Empire are the Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn), the Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere), the baroque church of St. Charles (Karlskirche), the crypt (Kaisergruft) of the Capuchin church (Kapuzinerkirche) , where are the tombs of the Habsburgs, the Gothic portal of the Minorite church (Minoritenkirche).

The climate of Vienna.

Vienna (Wien)
Population: 1.712.903 (2010)
Area: 414 km²
Capital: Vienna (Wien)
Highest point: Hermannskogel 542 meters
Lowest point: Lobau 151 meters

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