Introduction to Geography of Vienna

Vienna (German: Wien ). Austria, the nation's capital and largest city. It is in northeastern Austria on the Danube River near the Vienna Woods, a foothill section of the Alps. About one-fourth of Austria's people live in the city and its suburbs. The area is about 160 square miles (414 km 2); the elevation at the Danube is about 510 feet (155 m).

Vienna first prospered as a trading center, as it commanded one of central Europe's most important land and water routes. The city achieved international renown as the capital of the Hapsburg realm. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Vienna became a center of music, art, architecture, and education. True to its great heritage, Vienna remains among the world's outstanding cultural centers.


The heart of Vienna, on the Danube's west bank, is a small section known as Inner Town. In this, the oldest section of the city, are the principal hotels, banks, shops, and churches.

Inner Town is nearly enclosed by the Ringstrasse, a horseshoe-shaped boulevard that replaced Vienna's old city walls. Along this wide, tree-lined thoroughfare are many parks, monuments, and imposing buildings. The buildings include the parliament building, palace of justice, opera house, national theater, town hall, stock exchange, and former imperial palaces.

Beyond Inner Town and the Ringstrasse are the newer sections of Vienna. The northern and western districts are residential. Manufacturing plants are centered in the eastern and southern districts.


Vienna has a diversified economy, with government, finance, commerce, and manufacturing each employing a significant share of the city's workers. A number of international organizations have their headquarters in Vienna. They include agencies of the United Nations, housed in the UNO-City complex, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Large numbers of tourists visit the city for its musical events, museums, and palaces, and to enjoy its Old World charm.

Light manufacturing predominates in and around the city. Products include processed foods and beverages, leather goods, apparel and textiles, and electric and electronic equipment.

Vienna has long been a chief port on the Danube. The city is served by a modern and efficient system of highways and railways and by an international airport. Local public transportation includes streetcars, buses, and a subway.

Places of Interest

Vienna is a city of beautiful buildings. St. Stephen's Cathedral is the city's foremost landmark and tallest building. It was first built in the 12th century and has been restored or rebuilt several times since, most recently after World War II. The Hofburg, former imperial palace of the Hapsburgs, dates from the 13th century. Major additions to the palace were made in the 19th century. Housed in the Hofburg are the National Library and various imperial apartments, museums, and art collections, including the Albertina collection of European drawings and prints. Also in the Hofburg is the Spanish Riding School, where the famed Lippizan horses are trained and perform. Other impressive buildings include the Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles) and the Schönbrunn and Belvedere palaces.

Throughout Vienna are various memorials to the many composers, including Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Johann Strauss, who lived in the city. Some of their homes are preserved as museums.

Education and Culture

Vienna is the site of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the seat of many research institutes and learned societies. Chief of the city's many institutions of higher learning is the University of Vienna; founded in 1365, it is the oldest university in the German-speaking world. Outstanding museums include the Museum of Fine Arts, which features European paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Natural History Museum, and the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna. Vienna's great musical tradition is upheld by the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna State Opera, and Vienna Boys' Choir.


Vienna was originally a Celtic settlement and became a Roman frontier post, called Vindobona, during the first century A.D. With the decline of Roman power, Vindobona was destroyed by the Huns in the fifth century A.D. The town later came under the control of various other invaders, including the Magyars, who took it in 907. Peace and prosperity came with the rule of the Babenberg family (976-1246). During this period commerce with the East was strengthened by the Crusades, the town was granted its first charter, and it was made the capital of the duchy of Austria.

Vienna became the seat of the House of Hapsburg after Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I seized the duchy of Austria in 1276. The Hungarians captured Vienna in 1485 and made it their capital, but were driven out five years later. The city repelled the Turks in 1529 and again in 1683. It was occupied by Napoleon during the early 1800's. As the Hapsburg capital of the Austrian Empire, and later of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna became one of the world's centers of culture.

After World War I, Vienna became the capital of the new Republic of Austria, remaining so until 1938, when Austria was absorbed by Nazi Germany. Following World War II the city was jointly occupied by France, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States. The occupation ended in 1955.

Population: 1,539,848.