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Austria

Republic of central Europe, it lies between Switzerland to the W, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia to the N, Slovenia and Italy to the S, and Hungary to the E. The Alps run through the W and S of the country. Austria is situated at the crossroads of Europe and has therefore played an important role in the history of the continent. Its capital, Vienna, has a splendid cultural tradition and was from the 13th through the 19th centuries the nucleus of the vast empire of the Hapsburgs, which stretched, at various times, from Spain to Romania. In the modern world, Austria’s status has been greatly reduced by the shrinking of her boundaries and a treaty commitment to nonalignment.

Originally inhabited by Celts and Suebi, Austria was conquered by Rome between 15 b.c. and a.d. 10. Its land s south of the Danube River were incorporated into provinces of the empire. Overrun by the Huns in the fifth century a.d., Austria was conquered by Charlemagne in 788 and became part of his Eastern Mark or Ostmark. Later invaded by Moravians and Magyars, it was restored to Germany in 955, when the first Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I, defeated the Magyars at Lechfeld, near Augsburg. Under the Babenberg family from 976 to 1246, Austria was enlarged and strengthened, becoming a duchy in 1156. In the chaos following the death of the last Babenberg, King Ottokar II of Bohemia seized Vienna in 1251. He was ousted by the German king Rudolf I of Hapsburg in 1278, who made his son Albert governor of Austria, thus initiating six centuries of Hapsburg rule.

In the following years Austria acquired Tyrol, Trieste, Carinthia, Bohemia, and Hungary. When Albert II was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1483, Austria became the nucleus of the Holy Roman Empire. The Hapsburgs acquired the Netherland s and much of Burgundy by marriage and , in 1519, on the accession of Charles V, they gained Spain and much of Italy.

Austria was threatened in 1526 by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, whose siege of Vienna was repulsed, a milestone in European history. With the spread of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations in the 16th century, Austria was torn by religious differences, which finally erupted in 1618 with the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War. Austria won Moravia in the war and by 1699 had finally driven the Turks out of Hungary.

In the 18th century the Spanish Hapsburgs lost their throne in the War of the Spanish Succession of 1701–14, and in the War of the Austrian Succession of 1741–48. Silesia was lost to Prussia, a loss that reflected Prussia’s rising power in German affairs. With the partitions of Poland of 1772 and 1795 Austria gained new land s in the east, but the wars of the Napoleonic era spelled the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. Austria was defeated by Napoleon at Austerlitz in 1805 and Wagram in 1809, but by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 she acquired Dalmatia and Venice and again became a main power of Europe. In this period Austria and , particularly Vienna, was a glittering cultural center, the home of Mozart and Beethoven.

The 19th century was to witness the gradual disintegration of the sprawling Hapsburg Empire. The empire was rocked by the abortive revolutions of 1848, caused by the rise of liberalism and nationalism among its many ethnic groups. In 1859 Austria lost all her possessions in Italy except Venice, and after her defeat in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, leadership in German affairs passed to Prussia. As a sop to Hungarian nationalism, the empire was divided into a dual monarchy in 1867. However, the problems of the other nationalities remained, and when a crisis occurred over Serbia in 1914, World War I began. The war sounded the death knell of the Hapsburg Empire, and the Austria that emerged from the Treaty of Saint-Germain in 1919 was the small republic of our day. Dogged by political instability, it was annexed by Hitler’s Germany in 1938. During World War II it suffered the same fate as Germany and in 1945 was occupied by the four Allies. In 1955 the United States, the USSR, Great Britain, and France signed the State Treaty with Austria ending the occupation. The postwar years have been characterized by a remarkable economic recovery and prosperity, Austrian neutrality in East-West affairs, and many initiatives in North-South economic issues. Austria joined the European Union in 1995, which sparked an upsurge in support for anti-immigrant political parties. In 1999, the ultra-right wing Freedom Party came in third in the balloting and joined in a governing coalition government, bringing Austria temporary sanctions from the European Union.

Schönbrunn Palace and Hofburg Imperial Palace

Schönbrunn Palace and Hofburg Imperial Palace are both located in the capital and largest city of Austria, Vienna (or Wien).

Schönbrunn Palace is one of the major attractions of the capital because of its history and sheer grandeur of this palace that is comparable only to the world famous Versailles in France. With 1,441 rooms, this palace was built in 16 years between 1696 and 1712 for Emperor Leopold I. It was turned into the imperial summer palace for the royals. Now, this palace houses the world’s oldest zoo, the Privy Garden, a maze, a labyrinth, and a marble summerhouse that is located at the top of a 60 meter tall hill. The Palace Park for Schönbrunn Palace has all of these attractions and more.

The Hofburg Imperial Palace, also located in Vienna, is the official residence of the President of Austria. It was the Habsburg’s main winter residence while Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence. This glamorous and beautiful palace is older than Schönbrunn and was the seat of kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire (1438 to 1583 and 1612 to 1806).

Hallstatt

If you are looking for a unique and great experience, Hallstatt is a great tourist community in the Salzkammergut region, which is famous for its salt production. This village has created a glamorous baroque village over the years and is very popular to visit the Hörnerwerk cavern’s subterranean salt lake. As one of the most unique sights in Austria, this is well worth the visit.

St Anton am Arlberg

If you are the athletic type, you must visit the famous ski resort of St Anton am Arlberg, in Tyrol. St Anton offers legendary skiing terrain for those looking for a physical challenge. The vast landscape has a loyal winter following and is perfect for mountaineers as well, in the summer months. If you are looking for a great time at a legendary location, St Anton is the place to visit.

Innsbruck Altstadt

For the shoppers and lovers of old history among you, Innsbruck is a must-see. Among the Alpine mountain range, you can check out the amazing landscapes as well as the surprisingly modern urban center. Altstadt (literally translates as “old city”) is the medieval town of Innsbruck and will draw you in with the historic buildings, small medieval-type shopping rows, and the famous Golden Roof landmark.

The Golden Roof was constructed for Maximilian I, a Holy Roman Emperor, and as the name suggests, is decorated with thousands of gilded copper tiles that makes it look of pure gold.


     

Austria in photos

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