25 things you should know about Vienna.

A stroll through the largest city in Austria, the city of music, is like traveling back in time and taking a lesson. You can follow in the footsteps of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn or Schubert - or roll along their compositions at one of the many balls in the city. (When you're done, don't forget to stock up on some Viennese coffee and a hot dog.) Read on for more facts about Vienna.

  1. A military camp called Vindobona was established where Vienna is located around 50 AD. However, in 881 the first documents with the name Wenia appeared [PDF]. It was mentioned as a town in 1137 and town rights were granted in 1221.
  2. Napoleon occupied Vienna in 1805 and 1809, and both events affected Ludwig von Beethoven. The first interrupted the premiere of Fidelio, his only opera. And during Napoleon's siege on May 10, 1809, the prodigy, who was gradually losing his hearing, hid in his brother Carl's basement with pillows over his ears so that the sound of shells falling outside would not cause more damage.
  3. Technically, Vienna lies in two different climate zones. It lies right on the border of the temperate Central European transitional climate and the drier Pannonian zone.
  4. The German name for Vienna is Wien. So yes, that means Austria's most famous dish, the Wiener Schnitzel means Wiener Schnitzel. The right portion of the dish is breaded veal with a side of parsley potatoes or a potato-cucumber salad.
  5. The Vienna Spanish Riding School has upheld the Renaissance tradition of equestrian sport in the Haute École for more than 450 years. The facility's name refers to the horses that were introduced from Spain's Iberian Peninsula in the 16th century - today's Lipizzaner stallions are descendants of these horses.
  6. The roots of the famous Vienna Boys' Choir go back to 1498 [PDF]. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart worked with the choir and Franz Schubert was once a member. In 1918 the group became a private institution and their Imperial uniforms changed to sailor suits. There are now more than 100 boys aged 10 to 14 from 30 countries divided into four choirs and giving more than 300 performances a year
  7. Over the course of a century, the population of Vienna fluctuated between 2 million (peak in 1910) and 1.48 million (1987). Around 1.8 million people lived here in October 2014.
  8. The Wiener Riesenrad was built in 1897 to honor the golden jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I. A year later, in protest to draw attention to the city's poor, a woman named Marie Kindl hung herself on the door of one of the cubicles. A demolition permit was issued by 1916, but lacked the money to actually demolish it. It was burned down in 1944, rebuilt the next year, and returned to service in 1947.
  9. The snow globe was invented in Austria in 1900 when Erwin Perzy was trying to improve the lightbulb - he added water and semolina flakes in hopes the light would reflect off them and create a brighter glow. That didn't happen, but the effect was remarkable. Mass production began in Vienna in 1905 by his company Original Vienna Snow Globes, and the flakes are still falling today. The family business, run by his grandson Erwin Perzy III, made custom globes for Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and daughters Sasha and Malia Obama.


  1. The 521 square miles of the Vienna Woods are home to 2,000 species of plants and 150 species of birds. At least two endangered species — Ural owls and green lizards — have made the forest home.


  1. The Austrian city has been home to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since 1965. Although the United Nations headquarters is in New York City, one of its main offices is also in Vienna. The building serves as the base for the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency and the Office on Drugs and Crime.


  1. After Melbourne (Australia), Vienna is the second most liveable city in the world. That's according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's study, which includes 30 factors ranging from security and education to infrastructure and health care.
  2. Almost 3 million people annually visit the city's most famous church, St. Stephen's Cathedral, which was built in the 12th century. Thirteen bells hang from the tallest tower, which is 448 feet high and is accessible via 343 steps. But it's the Pummerin bell in the 224-foot tower that happens to be the second-largest free-swinging European church bell. Composers Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart both worked in the church.
  3. Be the beauty of the ball: more than 450 balls are held in the Austrian capital every year. The Viennese ball season lasts from New Year's Eve to Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday before Ash Wednesday). That means there are about 2000 hours of ball dancing per year.
  4. The New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic is one of the hottest tickets in town. The best seats cost up to $1200. This year's show was seen on television by 50 million viewers in 90 countries. And you have absolutely zero chance of getting a ticket in 2017. Names must be randomly drawn in order to be eligible to purchase tickets - and entry ends on February 29th.
  5. For Austrians, coffee is more than just caffeine - it's part of their heritage. In fact, Viennese coffee houses, which emerged in the 17th century, have been declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO as a place where “time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is on the bill”.
  6. The hills may have been alive in Salzburg, but Maria von Trapp, made famous by The Sound of Music, was actually born on January 26, 1905 in Vienna.
  7. Also born in Vienna? Actor Christoph Waltz who spent most of his career in Europe until he landed a lead role in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds in 2009. The Austro-German actor has appeared in The Green Hornet in 2011, Django Unchained in 2012, Big Eyes in 2014, The Big Eyes in 2015 and Specter, and has two other Bond films signed up.
  8. Vienna is the only world capital with bragging rights that produces “significant quantities” of wine within its city limits. With 1730 hectares of 'vineyards' there are more than 320 winemakers. 85 percent of the wine produced are white wine varieties.
  9. By 2050, life expectancy in the city will be 89 for women and 85 for men. In 2013, life expectancy was 81 years in the country and 71 years worldwide.
  10. Opened in 1981 to bolster Vienna's flood defense system, the 13-mile-long Danube Island has evolved into a premier recreation center, with an 820-foot family beach, a (free!) 53,820-foot water park, and a climbing park where guests can soar 33 feet in the air .
  11. Schonbrunn, the largest palace in Austria, has been one of the most visited places in Vienna since 2003. But you can still personalize the experience. The 1,798-square-foot, two-bedroom Grand Suite is available for rent, with rates starting around $1,500 per night. But how can you strain the ability to say you stayed at the former imperial residence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress 'Sisi' Elisabeth?
  12. If you don't want to settle for a palatial stay, the gardens surrounding Schönbrunn Palace are just as majestic — and free. The Baroque-style garden, open to the public since 1779, includes a labyrinth, a zoo, Roman ruins, the Fountain of Neptune and a Gloriette on a hilltop with sweeping views over the entire site.
  13. The 1949 film The Third Man was called the 'most important' film about Vienna. More recently, Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise was also filmed in the capital. And although the 1984 Oscar-winning Amadeustook Square was filmed in Vienna, it was filmed in the Czech Republic because, according to Milos Forman, “the streets of Vienna are full of boutiques, asphalt, steel, glass and plastic…Vienna is it also insanely expensive. '
  14. When you order a hot dog at one of Vienna's most well-known hot dog stands, answer whether you prefer the sweet Kremser mustard or the spicy tarragon. Providers can shorten it to sweet (sweet) or spicy (spicy). One of the most popular kiosks is the sausage stand on Hoher Markt in the old town.
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