Around the World from A to Z: Austria

Lying landlocked near the center of Europe, surrounded by the countries of Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, is the country Austria. It is famous for it’s breathtaking scenery and many renowned cultural sites, along with it’s remarkable history, all of which make Austria a stunning tourist destination.

In prehistoric times, the land where present-day Austria is was occupied by various tribes, like the Celts, before the Romans took over that land. A famous city in Austria, Salzburg, is actually located where the ancient Roman settlements once were. Once the Roman empire fell, the country was invaded multiple times. Charlemagne conquered the area once, encouraging the spread of Christianity, before it was captured by the king of Bohemia, who in turn lost it to Rudolf of Habsburg in 1278. When Austria fell under Habsburg rule, it became part of a dual monarchy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The country finally gained independence after World War I, becoming a republic with it’s own constitution. Now, the economy largely consists of services and tourism, the latter made possible by the beautiful scenery and cultural hubs in the country.

The eastern Alpine Mountains cover much of the land. Austria is, in fact, more covered with mountains than Switzerland. The mountainous territory gives the country an Alpine climate, with mild, moist summers and colder, drier winters, though the weather can change quickly and dramatically. The land also contains many glacier and snowcapped summits, along with abundant forests and woodlands, which makes for lovely scenery.

Photo Credit: alkuin

A popular scenic attraction is the Danube River, the longest river in the European Union. It flows through nine countries in total. Many large cities are built near the river, such as Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. The river is very important for the benefit of the people as well. It is a national waterway for transport, and supplies drinking water for about twenty million people besides. The Danube is a major river for many countries in Europe.

Another attraction in Austria is the Salzburg Old Town; the old section of the city Salzburg. It is famous for many reasons, one being that Salzburg was the place where the renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. The annual Salzburg music festival is also very popular for tourists. Additionally, the city has a lot of picturesque old Baroque architecture. Because of the history and culture of the city, Salzburg was named a world heritage center in 1997.

A third popular tourist destination in Austria is the Hofburg Imperial Palace. Located in Vienna, it is the official residence for the president of the country. It was the seat of emperors and kings until 1918, when the country became a republic. The palace has many ornate royal halls and apartments, as well as a chapel, a church, and a royal library. It also contains museums with impressive displays of crowns, scepters, and other expensive symbols of power, along with valuable silver, gold, and porcelain items. The palace even supports it’s own riding school and a very well-known boy’s choir. The history, displays, and activities of the palace make it a fascinating landmark to visit.

Though they are very well-known throughout the world, the Danube River, Salzburg Old Town, and the Hofburg Palace are just three of the many lovely attractions in Austria. The country is rich in natural and historical beauty, from the scenic mountains and forests to the ornate old architecture, unique to the country. All in all, it is a beautiful land that has been shaped  over the ages by history and nature to produce a center of culture and world heritage, making Austria a delightful place to visit at any time.

Next in series: ‘Around the World from A to Z: Bahamas’ by emmakitkat

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