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Vienna History

By the 20th century, Vienna was the largest German-speaking city in the world and the capital of the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire. But its roots lie in another empire, that of the Romans, to whom Vienna was known as the battle-scarred frontier town, Vindobona.

When the Romans finally withdrew, the town became an important centre of Celtic Christianity but, by 976, Leopold I of Babenberg became count of the surrounding district that eventually grew into the Duchy of Austria. The real making of Vienna was another 200 years away when the city finally found its feet under Duke Henry II Jasomirgott who moved the Babenberg capital to Vienna in 1145.

From here, the city continued to grow and expand, and by 1483, had become the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire under the Habsburgs. The city was occupied by Hungary between 1485 and 1490, and it also became a front line city once more, this time in the ongoing wars between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire, with Turkish armies twice halted just short of the city gates.

By 1804 and the Napoleonic Wars, Vienna was secure and had become capital of the Habsburg's Austrian Empire. In 1867, with the signing of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, it became the leading city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and had the building boom to go with it.

But Vienna's dominance came to an end when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was murdered in Sarajevo in 1914. Austria went to war and was defeated. The Habsburg's were no more. Demoralised, Vienna became a hotbed of socialist politics and violent outbreaks. All this ended with Anschluss (union) with Germany in 1938; but once again, the ensuing war left Austria and Vienna badly damaged.

The Soviets took the city from the Nazis in 1945 and once they withdrew in 1955. Vienna once more became the capital of Austria and slowly began to rebuild. Palaces and concert halls were restored, while, in the 1970s, Vienna became home to several large international organisations. Today, the city is a peaceful place with little sign of the violent conflicts that once convulsed it.

Did you know?
• The snow globe was invented by Erwin Perzy I in Vienna in 1900. He was attempting to make a light bulb at the time.
• Vienna is famous for its composers with Strauss, Mozart and Wagner among those to live in the city.
• PEZ candy was invented in Vienna in 1927. Their lighter-shaped dispensers were introduced in 1949 as the inventor, Edward Haas III, wanted people to eat candy as an alternative to smoking.

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Featured Hotels

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Palais Coburg

Once a royal residence, this glorious palace in the heart of the city has been transformed into a hotel that is the epitome of luxury and modern convenience. Its 35 suites are individually decorated and come with plenty of add-ons, such as a full kitchen, flat-screen TV, and high-speed Internet access. The Coburg also holds nine function rooms of palatial quality, a health spa, an enormous wine cellar, and one of Vienna's finest restaurants.

Hotel Das Tyrol

Hotel Das Tyrol is a charming and friendly small hotel, on Vienna's longest shopping street and right next to the MuseumsQuartier. Enjoy a tasty and healthy start to the day in the attractive dining area decorated with contemporary art.

Le Méridien

Set on the Ringstrasse, a short stroll from the Vienna State Opera and the Hofburg Palace, this modern addition to the city's list of top-end hotels combines history and contemporary style, with 294 "Art +Tech" rooms equipped with all mod cons, an excellent fitness suite with spa, and the ultra-trendy Shambala Bar.

Pension Pertschy

In the heart of town, this 4-star pension was formerly the Palais Cavriana (1734). It boasts 55 spacious grand and well-equipped rooms. There is a free Internet terminal in the hall. Enjoy the start to the day with the extensive Viennese breakfast buffet.

Nosseck Pension

The 30-room Nosseck Pension is about as central as you can get, opening directly onto the pedestrianised Graben. This is an extremely attractive accommodation for its price and location, with large and elegantly furnished en-suite rooms. No credit cards.

Hotel Haydn

Just a 15-minute walk from Westbahnhof station, HotelHaydn is an affordable hotel in the heart of Vienna. This family-friendly hotel isn’t far from popular tourist sites such as the Naschmarkt and the House of the Sea as well as shopping centres and a variety of restaurants.