The Statesman’s Yearbook Online

edited by Dr Barry Turner

VIENNA

Image courtesy of wikipedia

 

INTRODUCTION

Vienna is the national capital of Austria and one of the country's nine federal provinces. For centuries Vienna's geographical position at the heart of Europe made it an imperial and political powerhouse. It is the country's cultural, economic and political centre and hosts several international organizations.

KEY HISTORICAL EVENTS

There is evidence of Paleolithic habitation. Illyrians and Celts settled before the Romans founded Vindobona. During the 5th century the Romans were ousted by Bavarians, who in turn gave way to the Frankish Babenbergs in the 12th century. Throughout this period the town prospered as a trading post on the route of the crusaders.

Ruled by the Habsburgs from 1278, the city was besieged by Turks in 1529 and became a hotbed of revolt and religious bickering during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. During the 16th century Emperor Ferdinand I enforced a strict and oppressive regime in a bid to stamp out insurrection. The bubonic plague struck the city in the late 17th century, killing nearly a third of its population.

The opening decades of the 18th century heralded a golden age for Vienna, with baroque architecture, civil reform and a classical music revolution. Habsburg Vienna established itself as a centre for thinkers and artists. Maria Theresa's reign brought some stability to the city after the disruption of the Austrian Wars of Succession. She instigated a number of reforms that paved the way for the enlightened despotism of her humanist son Joseph II. He provided for freedom of religion, put in place government and educational reforms and was renowned as one of the greatest artistic patrons. By the end of his reign, Vienna's economy was based on manufacturing rather than trade.

Napoleon held Vienna twice, in 1805 and 1809, and all but bankrupted the city. However, Vienna continued to grow and the economy boomed during the 1860s. The Ringstrasse, a ring road that includes some of the city's most prestigious buildings, opened in 1865, new parks were created and power and water supplies were greatly improved. By 1910 Vienna's population had reached 2m. The Austro-Hungarian Empire finally fell with the abdication of the last Emperor Karl I and a new German-Austrian republic was proclaimed in Nov. 1918.

In 1933 Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss shut down parliament, banned the Austrian Nazi party and assumed dictatorial powers. Five years later, Adolf Hitler declared the Anschluss, or annexation. Greater Vienna became a German province and the city’s Jewish population either escaped abroad or perished.

Having suffered Allied bombing, Vienna was liberated by Russian troops in April 1945. It was then split into zones of occupation, with the Soviets, the US, the British and French each having their own spheres of influence. Much of the city was redeveloped in the late 1940s, '50s and '60s. In 1955 Austria regained independence and Vienna once again became the capital of the sovereign country. Vienna has since become a major centre for international organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

TERRITORY AND POPULATION

Austria's capital lies on the Danube in the northeast of the country. The Innere Stadt is at the core of the city and contains most of the city's famous structures. It is encircled by the Ringstrasse. Districts 2–9 are gathered within the outer ringroad (the Gürtel) and a further 14 districts make up the city's outer suburbs.

Vienna is Austria's largest city with an area of 414.9 sq. km in 2011. Its population in 2011 was 1,714,142 (821,605 men and 892,537 women).

GOVERNMENT

Vienna is divided into 23 Bezirke (districts) that function as decentralized administrative branches and make local decisions. The city is governed by a mayor, who is assisted by two deputies, and a city council composed of 100 members. The mayor, who is elected by the city council, also serves as the governor of the federal state.

Current leader: Michael Häupl

Position: Mayor and Governor of Vienna

Michael Häupl was born on 14 Sept. 1949 in Altlengbach, Austria. After gaining a PhD in biology and zoology, Häupl worked as a research scholar at Vienna's natural history museum. From 1978–84 he was involved with the youth organization of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ). Häupl entered politics in 1983 and served as a member of the Vienna Provincial Diet and Vienna City Council from 1983–88. He was executive city councillor for environment and sports from 1988–94. In 1993 he was made Chairman of SPO Vienna.

In Nov. 1994 Häupl succeeded Helmut Zilk as mayor and governor of Vienna. He has since been re-elected to the position three times. Under Häupl, Vienna has followed strict environmental protection standards, reducing its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2.4 tonnes. He has also supported funding schemes for the promotion of science, research and technology.

ECONOMY

Vienna's economy ranges over banking, industry, civil administration and tourism. The city has become a sought-after location for the regional headquarters of non-Austrian companies. Among the most important manufactures are machinery, chemicals and metal goods. Vienna provides approximately a quarter of the jobs in the country and produces almost one-third of the gross national product. According to a survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Vienna had the highest quality of living in the world in 2011.

Owing to Austrian financial and industrial groups' investments in central and eastern Europe, Vienna has become a centre for high value services, including law firms, accounting, engineering and design. Austria has weathered the economic crisis in the eurozone relatively well with growth, fiscal performance, unemployment and bond yields among the best in Europe. However, financial scandals have marred the city's reputation as a centre of financial expertise.

TRANSPORT

Vienna has an extensive underground, tram and bus system. There are two important railway stations, the South Station and West Station. In 2009 construction began to replace the South Station with a new Central Railway Station, scheduled for completion in 2015.

Vienna International Airport is located in Schwechat, 18 km southeast of central Vienna. A new terminal, Austrian Star Alliance Terminal, opened in June 2012.

CULTURE

Musical greats including the Strauss family, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Wagner, Mahler and Schönberg all have strong links to Vienna, as do the artists Egon Schielle, Oskar Kokoschka and Gustav Klimt and the writers Arthur Schnitzler and Karl Kraus. Freud developed many of his psychoanalytic ideas while living in the city.

Festivals

A traditional May Day Festival is held on 1 May in Prater Park. The Wiener Festwochen (Vienna festival) is one of the most prominent cultural events in Europe and runs from mid-May to mid-June. Jazz Fest Wien, held from mid-June to mid-July, is one of Austria's leading jazz festivals. Vienna's Literature Festival takes place in Sept. and the Vienna International Film Festival in Oct.

Places of Interest

Vienna's historic centre was awarded UNESCO world heritage site status in 2001. The city is home to one of the world's most influential opera houses, the Staatsoper (State Opera). Schönbrunn Palace, a former imperial summer residence, is Austria's most visited site. St Stephen's Cathedral, built in 1147, is a classic example of gothic architecture and serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. The Hofburg or Imperial Palace, a series of grand buildings of various periods and styles, is the official seat of the Austrian Federal President and also houses the Imperial Treasury, the Austrian National Library, the Albertina Museum and the Spanish Riding School. The Zentralfriedhof (Vienna Central Cemetery) is the second largest burial ground in Europe and includes the tombs of Johann Strauss and Ludwig van Beethoven. Prater Park features a variety of attractions including the Riesenrad, a Ferris wheel which has become the symbol of the city. Vienna's Schönbrunn Zoo is the world's oldest existing zoo.

Museums

The Museumsquartier is home to several of the city's leading museums, including the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK), with over 7,000 modern and contemporary works, and the Leopold Museum, which houses one of Austria's largest collections of modern art. Kunst Haus Wien in the Landstrasse district pays tribute to the works of Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), opened in 1891 to house the imperial family's art collection, is one of the world's largest and most distinguished museums. The Museum for Applied Arts (MAK) shows furniture, glass, china, silver and textiles from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Belvedere Palace houses the Austrian Gallery of the 19th and 20th centuries and the Museum of Medieval Art and Baroque Museum. The apartment that was Sigmund Freud's home and office for nearly 50 years is also a museum.

MEDIA

National papers published in Vienna include the socially liberal Der Standard, Die Presse, which caters to centre right, and Kronen Zeitung, Austria's largest tabloid.

Pictures


Staatstoper (State Opera House)


St Stephansdom


Hofburg Palace

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