Vienna is the capital and the largest city of Austria, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with more than 25% of Austria's population, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 9th-largest city by population in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century it was the largest German speaking city in the world, and before the first world war and the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the city had 2 million inhabitants.
During the Middle Ages, Vienna was home to the Babenberg dynasty; in 1440, it became the resident city of the Habsburg dynasties. It eventually grew to become the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire and a cultural centre for arts and science, music and fine cuisine.Hungary occupied the city between 1485–1490.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman armies were stopped twice outside Vienna (Siege of Vienna, 1529 and Battle of Vienna, 1683). A plague epidemic ravaged Vienna in 1679, killing nearly a third of its population.
During the latter half of the 19th century, the city developed what had previously been the bastions and glacis into the Ringstraße, a new boulevard surrounding the historical town and a major prestige project. Former suburbs were incorporated, and the city of Vienna grew dramatically. In 1918, after World War I, Vienna became capital of the Republic of German-Austria, and then in 1919 of the First Republic of Austria.
From the late 19th century to 1938, the city remained a centre of high culture and modernism. A world capital of music, the city played host to composers such as Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler and Richard Strauss. The city's cultural contributions in the first half of the 20th century included, amongst many, the Vienna Secession movement, psychoanalysis, the Second Viennese School, the architecture of Adolf Loos and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle. Within Austria, it was seen as a centre of socialist politics, for which it was sometimes referred to as "Red Vienna". The city was a stage to the Austrian Civil War of 1934, when Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss sent the Austrian Army to shell civilian housing occupied by the socialist militia.
The atmosphere of four-power Vienna is captured very well in the Graham Greene screenplay for the film The Third Man (1949), directed by Carol Reed. Later he adapted the screenplay as a novel and published it. Occupied Vienna is also colourfully depicted in the Philip Kerr novel, "A German Requiem." This title is misleading and reflects a common misunderstanding that the Viennese are "German" which to a Viennese is offensive. Whilst some authors will claim that the German language includes Vienna as within the "Deutcheraum" the Viennese themselves do not identify with Germany, or indeed with the rest of Austria in a defacto cultural, social or political sense.
In winter, small street stands sell traditional Maroni (hot chestnuts) and potato fritters.
Sausages are popular and available from street vendors (Würstelstand) throughout the day and into the night. The sausage known as Wiener (German for Viennese) in the U.S. - care here Dachshund dogs are also called Wieners in the U.S.and in Germany, is in Vienna called a Frankfurter. Other popular sausages are Burenwurst (a coarse beef and pork sausage, generally boiled), Käsekrainer (spicy pork with small chunks of cheese), and Bratwurst (a white pork sausage). Most can be ordered "mit Brot" (with bread) or as a "hot dog" (stuffed inside a long roll). Mustard is the traditional condiment and usually offered in two varieties: "süß" (sweet) or "scharf" (spicy).
The Naschmarkt is a permanent market for fruit, vegetables, spices, fish, meat, etc. from around the world. The city has many coffee and breakfast stores, such as the Julius Meinl with branches throughout the city districts.
Vienna, along with Paris, Prague, Bratislava and Warsaw is one of the few remaining world capital cities with its own vineyards. The wine is served in small Viennese pubs known as Heuriger, which are especially numerous in the wine growing areas. The wine is often drunk as a Spritzer ("G'spritzter") with sparkling water. The Grüner Veltliner, a dry white wine, is the most widely cultivated wine in Austria.
Beer is next in importance to wine. Vienna has a single large brewery, Ottakringer, and more than ten microbreweries. A "Beisl" is a typical small Austrian pub, of which Vienna has many.
- St. Stephen's Cathedral (German: Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, OP. Its current Romanesque and Gothic form seen today, situated at the heart of Vienna in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Rudolf IV and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first being a parish church consecrated in 1147. As the most important religious building in Austria's capital, the cathedral has borne witness to many important events in that nation's history and has, with its multi-colored tile roof, become one of the city's most recognizable symbols.
- The Austrian Parliament Building is where the two Houses of the Parliament of Austria conduct their sittings. The main construction lasted from 1874 to 1883. The architect responsible for the building in a Greek revival style was Theophil Edvard Hansen. He designed the building holistically, each element harmonising with the others and was therefore also responsible for the interior decoration, such as statues, paintings, furniture, chandeliers, and numerous other elements. Hansen was ennobled by Emperor Franz Joseph with the title of a Freiherr (Baron) after completion. One of the building's most famous features is the later added Athena fountain in front of the main entrance, which is a notable Viennese tourist attraction. Following heavy damage and destruction during the Second World War, most of the interior has been restored to its original splendour.
- The Burgtheater originally known as K.K. Theater an der Burg, then until 1918 as the K.K. Hofburgtheater, is the Austrian National Theatre in Vienna and one of the most important German language theatres in the world. The Burgtheater was created in 1741 and has become known as "die Burg" by the Viennese population; its theatre company of more or less regular members has created a traditional style and speech typical of Burgtheater performances. The theatre opened on 14 March 1741, the creation of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria who wanted a theatre next to her palace. Her son, Emperor Joseph II called it the "German National Theatre" in 1776. Three Mozart operas premiered there: Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782), Le nozze di Figaro (1786) and Così fan tutte (1790). Beethoven's 1st Symphony premiered there on 2 April 1800.
- The Albertina is a museum in the Innere Stadt (First District) of Vienna. It houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th century art, some of which will be on permanent display. The museum also houses temporary exhibitions.
- Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial 1,441-room Rococo summer residence in modern Vienna. One of the most important cultural monuments in the country, since the 1960s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace and gardens illustrate the tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. In the year 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased a large floodplain of the Wien river beneath a hill, situated between Meidling and Hietzing, where a former owner, in 1548, had erected a mansion called Katterburg. During the next century, the area was used as a hunting and recreation ground. Especially Eleonora Gonzaga, who loved hunting, spent much time there and was bequeathed the area as her widow's residence after the death of her husband, Ferdinand II. From 1638 to 1643, she added a palace to the Katterburg mansion, while in 1642 came the first mention of the name "Schönbrunn" on an invoice.