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Vienna, Austria, is situated on both sides of the River Danube, and only 60 kilometers off Austria's Eastern border, Vienna lies on the South East corner of Central Europe and in close reach to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Vienna is by far the largest city in Austria as well as its cultural, economic and political centre.
Before the Second World War, Vienna stood side by side with Paris and London in importance, beauty, and power, thanks to its status as a major transit point between Western and Eastern Europe. The rich and elite of Europe vacationed here while the poor viewed it as an opportunity to escape their miseries. Here, artists and composers sought inspiration and revolutionaries ironed out their plans and theories.
Vienna, however, has not always been considered such a romantic destination. The city found itself just a few miles from the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Hence, trade ceased with the East, and foreigners found little reason to visit a war-torn city. However, with the sudden popularity and growth of the Eastern Jewels (Budapest, Prague, and Kraków), Vienna rediscovered its role as a gateway. In-transit tourists, as well, have rediscovered Vienna's old-world charm, often making an unexpected extended stay. There is no better time than now to visit this magnificent city.
People traveling to Vienna looking for fin-de-siècle architecture and a relaxed atmosphere will not be disappointed. Imagine a city shaped by artists and composers 150 years ago. Huge palaces seem to appear on every major street corner, and the sky is pierced with towering church steeples. The buildings along the Ringstrasse seem to offer a bit of every European building style, from the medieval Rathaus, Gothic Stephensdom, to the Greco-Roman parliament building.
Visitors quickly embrace the old-world style of Vienna. The streets are lined with quaint shops, cafés, and bakeries. Men are still gentlemen, while women still dress themselves up before strolling around town. The locals are generally conservative, well educated, and well mannered. They will notice you looking at a map or deciphering a sign, but are too polite to bother you. However, if you ask them, then you will find that most Viennese speak a bit of English and are happy to help a traveler.