Vienna is the capital and largest city of Austria, with its extended metropolitan area making it home to a quarter of the country’s population. In 2001 the city was designated a UNESCO world heritage site. This beautiful city, consistently rated in the top 10 world cities for quality of life, is well known for its cultural events, imperial sights, coffee houses, and cosy wine taverns.
Visitors to the Vienna enjoy the city’s imperial architectural heritage, characterized by the baroque buildings created under the rule of its Hapsburg emperors and empresses. The medieval city center is surrounded by the famous ‘Ring’ of 19th century palaces. The most popular of these is the Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence, with its beautifully tended formal gardens, and the Christmas market which takes place there each winter. Then there is the huge Hofburg, the palace which was the home of the Habsburg dynasty for over six centuries.
Other major sights include the splendid baroque Belvedere Palace, which today houses the Austrian National Gallery, displaying works by Klimt and Kokoschka, as well as famous paintings by Schiele. Other important landmarks include the gothic Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral), the giant ferris wheel in the Prater (Vienna’s old recreational park), and the Spanish Riding School, with its famous Lipizzaner horses. The city's museums and galleries are world famous: the Kunsthistorisches Museum has an incredible collection of works by the Old Masters, the Leopold Museum displays works by Austrian painters, and the more recently opened Liechtenstein Palace is worth a visit to see its collection of baroque art.