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Austria Information

 



                                     

Austria is a land-locked alpine country in Central Europe bordering Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west, Germany and Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east and Slovenia and Italy to the south. Austria, along with neighboring Switzerland, is the winter sports capital of Europe. However, it is just as popular for summer tourists who visit its historic cities and villages and hike in the magnificent scenery of the alps.
                                     

Vienna


Vienna is Austria's capital city and has stunning modern architecture.  Vienna has more museums and galleries of international reputation. In Vienna old coffee houses and rustic wine taverns stand. The sumptuous palace with the beautifully tended formal gardens, Palm house and the zoo attract hordes of visitors each year. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is one the world's best.

The traditional Vienna is but one of the many façades of this city. Vienna is also a dynamic, young city, famous for its (electronic) music scene with independent labels, cult-status underground record stores, a vibrant club scene, multitudes of street performers, and a government that seems overly obsessed with complicated paperwork. However, people are willing to go out of their way or bend the rules a little if they feel they can do someone a favor.

The Viennese have a singular fascination with death, hence the popularity of the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) as a strolling location and of Schrammelmusik - highly sentimental music with lyrics pertaining to death. Old-fashioned Sterbevereine (funeral insurance societies) provide members with the opportunity to save up for a nice funeral throughout the course of their lives. This service does not exist solely to save their children the hassle and expense - it is considered absolutely mandatory to provide for an adequate burial. Vienna even has the Bestattungsmuseum, a museum devoted to coffins and mortuary science. The country’s morbid obsession may be correlated with its higher suicide rate when compared with the rest of Europe.

Vienna is also famous for its coffee culture. "Let's have a coffee" is a very commonly heard phrase, because despite incursions by Starbucks and Italian-style espresso bars, the Kaffeehaus is still the traditional place to drink a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, meet friends, or fall in love.

Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts). One of the world's great art museums, and the best in Vienna, in a palace that's a work of art itself. Like the Louvre, serious art fans may wish to devote more than a day to its treasures. The mother of all Austrian museums – there is no other word to describe the "Kunst" other than mind boggling. It contains a world-class exhibit of the Habsburgs' art collection, including Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Bosch, and Brueghel. It’s, at the very least, a full day’s worth of sightseeing, if you intend to go through it thoroughly and attempt to ponder the importance of each major work. The better approach here is to break up sections of the museum and visit them over a series of days, or if that’s not an option, pick one section and concentrate on it alone. Beginning with another section of the museum, it’s possible to have a lunch or light dinner in the café and then continue through the Picture Gallery until closing time (especially on Thursdays, because the Picture Gallery is open until 9PM). The Museum has an excellent collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art. The coin & medals collection is also exhaustive in its scope. The Museum cafe is a bit pricey, but good, and in a beautiful setting. Like the Louvre, hand-held photography is permitted to help store and recall the numerous mind-boggling beautiful works of art at the Kunst.

Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury) – Located in the Neue Hofburg, the Schatzkammer (also known as the Secular and Ecclesiastical Treasures) is the best part of the Hofburg and an absolute must on any tour of Vienna. It contains the Hapsburgs' collection of jewels, crowns, and other valuables — perhaps the best on the Continent. Second only to a tour of the Kunsthistorisches Museum itself, of which the Schatzkammer is officially a part, there are 20 rooms of priceless treasures that give a fairly accurate feel for Hapsburg court life over the centuries.

The New Palace (Neue Hofburg) – The New Palace is the newest and largest section of the Imperial Palace. It contains the Ethnological Museum and three branches of the Museum of Fine Arts. The Ephesus Museum contains classical art from Asia Minor. The Collection of Historical Musical Instruments is self-explanatory, but the jewel of the New Palace is the Collection of Arms. This collection, second largest in the world, houses an immense and exhaustive representation of weaponry from past centuries.

Schloss Schönbrunn –  Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996, it is not far from the city centre. Schönbrunn is the ultimate palace experience in Vienna, because the Hapsburg summer palace can be found here. It is comparable in grandeur to Versailles and is definitely a must-see in Vienna. Its gardens and zoo (the oldest in the world, built for Maria Theresa’s husband in 1752) alone are worth a le
 

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