Sunday, 30 March 2008

Imperial Vienna

Vienna owes its great splendour to the fact that it was the capital of the Austro - Hungarian empire as well as being the crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe. Lying right at Europe's heart and in the gap between the Alps and the Carparthanian mountains where the Danube flows, it has also been of great strategic importance.

As the gateway to Western Europe it was beseiged by the Ottoman Turks in 1683, and very nearly fell had it not been rescued in the nick of time by the Poles under King Jan Sobieski on Sepember 12th 1683, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Above is the monument to the victory. With a massive Islamic influx into Western Europe, history may repeat itself very soon!

The city is divided into the old heart behind the former walls of narrow, winding and very charming streets, and the outer ring where the walls once stood which was reconstructed with Parisian style boulevards under the Emperor Franz Joseph II. Here is the Rathaus (town hall) on one of them:

Right opposite is the Hofburg theatre. Unfortunately I did not go to any operas when I was in Vienna, something I should have done! The River Danube is about a mile outside the city, and the waterways in the city are canals that feed off it.

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