One of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, Austria brings tourists year-round with places to go to in both summer and winter. In actuality, with some of Europe’s most exceptional ski, winter is almost as busy as summer in the spectacular mountain areas. Austria is a country of the upland regions and high mountains, with the Eastern Alps occupying a good 60 per cent of its land. Visitors are attracted as much for the scenic beauty of the Alpine republic’s states as they are for the ancient capital Vienna (Wien), and the birthplace of Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, Salzburg. The River Danube flows for approximately 350 km from west to east through the northern area of the country, adding to its appeal as a tourist destination.
- The Vienna Hofburg: Austria’s Imperial Palace
The magnificent Hofburg Palace in Vienna was for centuries the seat of Austria’s monarchy, the strong Habsburgs. Rooms that once belonged to Emperor Joseph II are now a centre of trade where President conducts the state business. The Hofburg palace has 2500 rooms and 19 courtyards surrounded by 59 acres of land. Highlights of a visit include the Imperial Silver Collection and a range of dining services providing a flavor of the lavish imperial banquets that once happened here; the Sisi Museum, focusing on the life and times of Empress Elisabeth; and the Imperial Apartments, a set of 19 rooms once occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife.
- Salzburg Altstadt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Since the residence of Prince Archbishops, Salzburg was a religious centre in the earliest times of Christianity in Europe. St. Rupert at AD 690 founded The Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter at the heart of the Altstadt (Old Town) and before the early 1100s it served as the residence of the Archbishops. The Prince Archbishops employed a number of the best architects and artists of their times to construct and decorate their churches, homes, and monasteries, and even though these have been”upgraded” from the preferences of successive centuries, the medieval and Baroque buildings combine to form a beautiful old quarter to research. Highlights are St.Peter’s Abbey and its church, together with the great cemetery and its catacombs (which you will recognise as a filming site for The Sound of Music). Nearby is the cathedral, and drifting among its vibrant Baroque burgher homes, and you will discover charming squares and attractions which include the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, now a museum. Above the gorgeous spires and cupolas soars Salzburg’s castle of Hohensalzburg, which you can reach by a funicular.
- The Spanish Riding School, Vienna
Emperor Maximilian II, the man responsible for introducing the famous Lipizzaner horses to Austria in 1562, which formed the renowned Spanish Riding School. These days, it’s one of the only areas in which the classical style of riding favoured by the aristocracy is still practised. Viewing the famed equestrian displays from the Baroque Winter Riding School – held here since the time of Charles VI – is a must when in Vienna. Built in 1735, the magnificent hall was intended for the nobility to demonstrate their riding abilities.
- Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
The Baroque Schönbrunn Palace, which is on the outskirts of Vienna, was finished in the early 1700s and Empress Maria Theresa later converted the palace into a summer residence. Highlights of a tour through the 40 rooms of this palace which are available to the public would be the Great Gallery with its magnificent ceiling paintings; Royal flats; Maria Theresa’s salon carved with rosewood panels; and the Hall of Mirrors with golden Rococo-framed mirrors. Behind the 1,441-room palace extend 500 acres of gardens and parks, also from the 18th-century Baroque style.
- Innsbruck’s Hofburg and Hofkirche
Emperor Maximilian I, who reigned from the late 1400s and early 1500s, is the seat of the Hapsburg government and a focus of Europe. Highlights of a tour would be the sumptuous royal apartments, the marble Giant Hall (Riesensaal), and the painted ceilings throughout.