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Besides being an international metropolis and home of nearly two million inhabitants, you could call Vienna the capital of Central Europe forming a geographical quadrangle with four other important capitals: Berlin to the north, Paris to the west and Rome to the south. Vienna is one of the cities in the world to host UN organizations and you can find two World Heritage sites inside the city limits and three more close by.
2000 years of history and culture blend in with state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology as well as contemporary art and architecture. Mercer’s 2019 Quality of Living Survey awarded "top spot" to the Austrian capital for the tenth year in succession. Criteria include the political, social and economic climate, education and infrastructure facilities including public transportation, leisure facilities such as restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports facilities, environmental factors including green space, air quality, etc.
Founded as a Roman border town, Vienna had been the center of a massive empire including the areas of today's Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and parts of Italy called the Austrian - Hungarian Monarchy until the end of the first world war in 1918.
Under the (practically) last emperor Kaiser Franz Josef I. who reigned for 68 (!) years in the "Hofburg" and in "Schönbrunn" the "Ringstrasse" was built, the famous boulevard with its magnificent buildings like the Opera House, the parliament, the prominent museums, the Town Hall, etc. His stunningly beautiful wife Elisabeth, called "Sisi" and their love story became legendary. After World War II, when Vienna was half destroyed, an incomparable restoration of this city began. The fall of the Iron Curtain (in 1989), which ran only about 100km east of Vienna, gave the development another substantial boost and put the city finally back into the center of Europe.
Music and Arts
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Joseph Haydn, Arnold Schoenberg, Gustav Mahler and last but not least, the Waltz King, Johann Strauss. No other city on earth can claim a more impressive roll call of composers past and present than Vienna. While the Austrian capital is the undisputed home of waltz and operetta, the city has also gained an international reputation for stage musicals.
In Vienna's opera houses and concert halls, you can experience world-famous conductors, musicians and singers on a daily basis (sometimes even for free or on a low budget). Thousands of music students come to Vienna to perfect their studies in this inspiring atmosphere. In the area of fine arts, too, Vienna with its abundance of museums and exhibitions offers an almost unmanageable variety, ranging from centuries-old world-famous originals to the "Wiener Schule" (around 1900) to high-class contemporary art.
Accessibility and Transport
Vienna is situated in the very heart of Europe and is easily accessible via countless flights by major as well as smaller airlines to the Vienna International Airport, which offers up to date services and handles more than 27 Mill. passengers per year. If you are traveling through Central Europe over land, whether from north to south or from east to west, you will notice that Vienna is on or near your route.
A high-quality network of motorways from all directions and trains (traveling at more than 250 km/h) takes you quickly and easily to Vienna. Once in town, you can take one of the world's best-developed public transportation networks to get easily from A to B. Vienna is also the ideal hub for easily exploring the wide diversity of Austria's other regions like e.g. the geographical and cultural landscape of the alps west of Vienna. Or you can travel east and pay a day visit to the neighboring countries the Czech Republic or Hungary.
Vienna’s 2,000-year history is intricately woven into the city's modern-day fabric. The layout of the city center goes back to the Roman settlement and the road network of the Middle Ages; Romanesque and Gothic churches define the character of the streets and squares as much as the palaces and townhouses from the Baroque period.
If the Ringstrasse was the ultimate expression of a modern metropolis in the nineteenth century, extensive residential complexes in the outer districts set the tone for the twentieth century. Contemporary Viennese architecture has made a name for itself all over the world and it is all the more exciting and appealing as it is often realized in the context of the valuable historical architecture that can be found in Vienna in countless places.
Recreation in "Green" Vienna
One of the reasons why Vienna has been regularly voted the city with the highest quality of life worldwide is that more than 50% of the city consists of parks, water bodies or green areas that are close to the center and easily accessible by public transport. The six square kilometers "Prater," once part of the Danube flood plain is dotted with woods, meadows, and ponds and the perfect place to go for a walk, jog or bike ride – whatever the time of year. The Danube Island, only a short ride from the city center on the subway offers outdoor recreation including swimming, rowing, sailing, cycling, skating, beach volleyball, walking, picnicking, barbecuing as well as restaurants and bars with beach atmosphere, city-skyline view, and staggering sunset scenarios.
Besides the "Vienna Woods," in the west, a biosphere (a first for a global capital) also falls inside the city limits: the 2,300-hectare Lobau, one of the last unspoiled wetlands in Europe which are also part of the "Donau Auen National Park." It provides a natural habitat for more than 800 types of plants, rare orchids, 30 species of mammals, 100 species of nesting birds, eight kinds of reptiles, 13 types of amphibians and 60 types of fish – highlights include beavers, white-tailed eagles, praying mantises, grey herons and kingfishers.