10 Things You Probably Didn’t know About Vienna

1. ITS A ‘WINE CAPITAL’.

I would have never imagined Vienna as a wine capital; but it is in fact home to 1730 acres of vineyards and 320 vintners; making it the ONLY capital city in the world that produces substantial quantities of wine, within its city limits.

The most popular ones are the white wine varieties – Grüner Veltliner, Rheinriesling and Weißburgunder.

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2. COFFEE IS MORE THAN JUST A BEVERAGE FOR THE AUSTRIANS.

Wine’s not the only beverage that’s inherent to Vienna. Coffee is even more so – and its a part of their heritage (since the 17th century)…So much so that Viennese coffee houses were added to UNESCO’s  ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage‘ list – “As they are a place where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill“.

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3. CROISSANTS ARE ORIGINALLY VIENNESSE.

Well the famous French pastry has Viennese origins, for sure.  Bakers in Vienna made ‘Kipferl’ (the crescent or pretzel shaped bread), to commemorate Austria’s victory over the Ottoman Turks in 1683, their shape based on the crescents seen on the uniform of the enemy.

In 1770, when Marie Antoinette of Austria married King Louis XVI of France, she introduced her favourite pastry to France. The French made a few changes – and lo – the ‘Croissant’ was born.

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4. VIENNA HAS THE WORLD’S OLDEST ZOO.

The Vienna Zoo, or as it is locally referred to – the ‘Tiergarten Schönbrunn’, has been on the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace since 1752. The zoo was once the private menagerie of Emperor Franz Stephen and Empress Maria Theresa.

Today it is home to over 700 different animal species and has been voted the best zoo in Europe.  Its also undoubtedly the prettiest one in the world with its uniquely regal and Baroque architecture.

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5. WE ‘COMMONERS’ CAN ACTUALLY STAY IN THE SCHONBRUNN PALACE

Yup – its true – for a price of course…

But for about €1500 you can actually rent a suite for a night. They even let you play dress up 😉 and kit you out as an emperor or empress.

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6. THE CITY PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN THE TWO MOST CATACLYSMIC EVENTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY.

World War I was triggered in June 1914, by the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand – the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Ironically, Vienna also marked  the very first trigger for World War II, with Hitler and his armies marching  into Vienna (in March 1938) and announcing the annexure of Austria into the German empire.  (Yes Austria was taken over by them even before Poland).

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7. THE OLDEST OPERATING FERRIS WHEEL IN THE WORLD, IS IN VIENNA.

The Wiener Riesenrad, constructed in 1897, is the oldest still operating ferris wheel in the world. Located in the Prater amusement park, this is one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions.

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8. THE SNOW GLOBE WAS INVENTED IN VIENNA.

In 1900 while trying to improve the brightness and longevity of light bulbs, an Austrian Mechanic – Erwin Perzy accidentally invented the world’s biggest selling touristic souvenir  – the snow globe.

Erwin and his brother’s 100 year old store continues making and selling traditional Viennesse snow globes even today – all hand-made. 

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9. VIENNA – A DIVIDED CITY

It wasn’t only Berlin that was divided and governed by different foreign powers, in the 20th century.

Vienna was also divided into 4 parts after the 2nd World War; and occupied and administered by the USA, France, UK and the then Soviet Union. The 1st district (which is today the city’s cultural and historic core – the’ Inner City’), was governed by all 4 powers.

This continued until 1955, which is when the city was ‘freed’ with the Austrian State Treaty.

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10. VIENNA – THE BEST CITY IN THE WORLD to live in

Vienna has been voted as the world’s most livable city for the last 7 years in a row.

Taking into account factors such as political stability, the social and economic climate, medical care, education, recreational opportunities, environmental conditions and infrastructure; Vienna has been consistently coming out on tops

Gory and macabre as it sounds, Vienna also seems to the favoured city for the dying.

In the city’s Central Cemetery there are approximately 3 million people buried there.  Ironic, as the city’s population is only around 1.8 million.

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