Vienna's City of Culture - The Highest Standard of Living in all of Europe
Elegant balls, classical music, snow-covered Christmas markets… and river boats dancing down the blue Danube are just a few of the things that instantly spring to mind when thinking about Vienna. However, there’s far more to this city of culture than what you’d traditionally see on the back of a Viennese postcard. In actual fact, the city is home to a diverse, bubbling culture, and has been voted as the city with the highest standard of living five times in a row by a highly regarded international survey. It is a city that offers a range of historic culture, a slice of old-world opulence, and contemporary living at its finest…
Gazing across the terrace of St Stephen's Cathedral will provide you with an outstanding view over the city… and give you a panoramic impression as to what all the fuss is about. Here you will see classic architecture and baroque buildings, dominated by domes, sitting alongside modern masterpieces, all there waiting for you. Look a little closer and you’ll find a range of stunning boutique shops, a plethora of palaces, and some of the finest art galleries in the world, not to mention over 100 art museums, and the world-renowned Vienna State Opera – where music and ballet are on offer on an almost daily basis.
While the elegance of Vienna is endless, its history is far from refined. From the decline of the founding Roman camp, to the battles under the Babenbergs, and a range of revolts and revolution along the way, Vienna has certainly seen its fair share of struggle. However throughout it all, the city has flourished after every fall. From capital of the Holy Roman Empire to the capital of the Republic, its journey has led to baroque blossoming throughout the city, many examples of which can be found on Ringstrasse. This beautiful boulevard was opened in 1865 by Emperor Franz Joseph and is home to 5.3km of the grandest buildings in the city, including The Ring and Grand Hotel Wien.
Situated a short walk away, Hofburg Palace houses 19 impressive Imperial apartments and three museums which offer an insight into a world mixed with politics and plentiful pleasure. While Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family, showcases one of the finest examples of Rococo style, glittering in gilt. Combining 1441 rooms, 1.2km of stunning scenery, the largest palm house on the continent and the oldest zoo, each experience it offers has its own story to tell; from the Mirror Rooms, which witnessed the first concert by the then six year old Mozart, to the meticulously restored Great Gallery, where you can imagine the beautiful balls under the stunning ceiling frescos.
Of course, no dance can commence without melody and as Vienna is vastly regarded as the world’s music capital, there is no better place to find such a rich history and the continuance of world-class performances of every type, from classic to contemporary. With former residents including Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Schubert, Vienna has been home to more famous composers than any other city, and continues to embrace its heritage through performers like the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
Then there’s the cuisine… and the glorious drinks. Famed for delicious dry white wines, there are currently 630 producers working the urban vineyards around the city. While the city’s Kaffeehaus culture cannot be missed, beginning with the first opening in 1685, it has now become an institution that provides an escape from modern life. Address the waiters as "Herr Ober" and enjoy the entertainment on offer while sampling signature drinks, served alongside delicious homemade pastries and cakes, from Buchteln mit Powidl, a bun with plum jam and the succulent swirl of cocoa in the Grand Guglhufl cake, the breakfast for generations of Emperors.
Ball at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Image courtesy of Moritz SchmaltzClick here for more
Vienna City Marathon. Image courtesy of Sandor SomkutiClick here for more