From chocolate-box houses to imperial palaces, shopping boulevards to open air concert halls, gently rolling farmland to the vast and snow-capped Alps, Austria is a land of culture, history and immense variety. The picture-perfect image of Austria, the quaint and Alpine setting that famously provided a backdrop to The Sound of Music, is true to life – the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. But equally true to life is Austria’s innate diversity and range. Not only is the country steeped in history, it is innovative too, offering a wealth of sights and activities all tailored not only to the needs of the country but the requirement of the millions of travellers who visit its cities every year. From the country’s capital Vienna with its trendy and vibrant arts scene, the ski slopes of Bad Gastein, through to picturesque Salzburg, birthplace to Mozart, there’s a city to suit each taste and requirement.
Austria’s history is long and complex, and everywhere there are reminders of its transformation over the years, right from its Celtic roots to its struggle for identity under rule by various European powers. The Hofburg in Vienna, the country’s capital city, is a defining landmark. Until 1918 this extensive palatial complex was the political centre of the monarchy. Today, it is open to visitors and offers fascinating insights into the Habsburg dynasty and Austria’s time under its governance. There are three parts to the modern-day museum: the Imperial Silver Collection showcases silverware and dining luxuries, the Sisi Museum gives access to the personal effects, portraits and collectibles of Empress Elisabeth and the Imperial Apartments give a glimpse into life at the time they were occupied by Emperor Franz Josef and his wife Elisabeth. A fascinating counterpart to the Schloss Schönbrunn, the Hofburg is also well-supplemented with a visit to one of the many museums charting Austria’s history. A particularly comprehensive collection can be found at the Keltenmuseum in Salzburg.
Aside from the larger and most popular, there are plenty of other options for travellers visiting Austria. For history buffs, the city of Carnuntum offers palatial Roman ruins in its open-air museum as well as a fully reconstructed Roman house. For art lovers, aside from the stunning collections of the Museumsquartier in Vienna there are other, more innovative outdoor options. The Art Route of Lech Zürs am Arlberg and Bregenzerwald in the west of Austria hosts a mix of traditional Austrian architecture and cutting edge contemporary art. This is the location for ‘Horizon Field’, the stunning contemporary art project by renowned artist Antony Gormley. One hundred cast iron figures line 150km of mountain path creating a once-in-a-lifetime view. Equally beautiful is the view over the Bodensee (Lake Constance) in summer. Time your visit with the annual Bregenz Festival and prepare to be blown away by opera performances on the Seebühne (Floating Stage), the festival’s world-famous centrepiece. Continuing the outdoor theme, the Tyrol area is the perfect all-year-round location, offering hiking opportunities across its mountains and through its stunning valleys in summer, and in winter its pistes are perfect for skiing.
So whether your taste is for the high drama baroque of Salzburg, the achingly trendy arts scene in Vienna, for castles or modern architecture, mountain ranges or river cruising, there’s a holiday for every taste in Austria.
Last Edit by HT Helper on 19/09/2011 EDIT NOW >>