Spotlight on Austria
Austria has few peers as a year-round holiday destination, with plenty of winter sports in the Alps, some of the most impressive and overblown architecture in Europe and an unrivalled musical tradition that even The Sound of Music couldn't sully. Vienna is the capital, hub of the country's musical life and littered with beautiful buildings. Music, art and architecture reach baroque perfection in Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace. Innsbruck's snow-capped peaks frame its fascinating historic buildings. Throughout Austria, you'll find the rhythm of daily life has a musical beat; music festivals fill its calendar. There's also a wonderful range of outdoor activities, from lounging on lakeside beaches to paragliding from mountains. The skiing is some of the best in the world.
Vienna is dominated by imperial castles and places: Schönbrunn, the magnificent summer residence, the Imperial Coach Collection, the Palm House, the Butterfly House, Belvedere Palace, magnificent state rooms in Hofburg, and the imperial crown in the Treasury. Stop by Ringstraße - the showplace of the monarchy built where Emperor Franz Joseph ordered the demolition of city walls. Important buildings include the State Opera, the Museums of Fine Arts and Natural History, Parliament, City Hall and Vienna University. The world capital of music. A long line of great composers Johann Strauss, Haydn and Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, Mahler and Schönberg all worked here. A city with splendid concert halls, such as the Golden Hall, from which the Philharmonic`s New Year`s Day concert is broadcast annually. International stars love to appear here in the State Opera, Volksoper, Konzerthaus, and at festivals like the Vienna Festival, the Klangbogen concerts during the Musical Summer, the Jazz Festival and the Haydn, Mozart and Schubert festivals.
Salzburg - Mozart's birthplace and "festival city" of breathtaking scenic beauty, "The Sound of Music" resonates in every alleyway and picture perfect street of Salzburg. One of the most famous cities in the world, Salzburg used to be called "Rome of the North" - because of Italian influence on its architecture and because it was for centuries the major center of religious power in the German world. Today, it is perhaps the best existing example of a Baroque city, a riotously decorative style of architecture. Salzburg's most important attraction is still music and the two festivals, Festpielhause and Easter Festival, which annually transform the city into a music-lovers paradise.
Graz - Just south of Vienna, Austria’s second-largest city is definitely worth a visit. Aside from the historic city center (enjoy the view from the top of the castle!), Graz has a decidedly Mediterranean feel and is a must-visit destination for food-lovers. The rich countryside provides Graz and its many fine restaurants with fresh produce. Stroll through the historic Renaissance center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, up to the imposing clock tower on the Schlossberg. The Zeughaus contains the world’s greatest collection of arms and armor, while the Kunsthaus, nicknamed “the friendly alien” for its unusual architecture, is the place to view contemporary art.
Innsbruck - A city of enormous historical import as well as a renowned reputation for winter sports which has earned it the title "the world's winter capital". Landmarks include the famous Golden Roof, Hofburg Palace, Triumphal Arch and St. Anne's column which celebrates the freeing of the province from the Bavarians who occupied it during the War of the Spanish Secession in the early 18th century. To most people Innsbruck is synonymous with winter sports, and indeed, it could almost be called the world's winter capital: but there is much more to this historic city than skiing. It is the last large city to the west of the country and is the major centre of the Tyrol region including East Tyrol.
Linz - This Roman-built capital city is an important trade town along the Danube. For people interested in its past, it has an impressive list of important historical figures who have passed through or made Linz their home. Friedrich III, the Hapsburg Emperor, spent his last days in Linz, and for a time it was the most important city in the empire. Adolph Hitler went to school here for a brief period of time before moving on. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his Symphony No. 36 in Linz, and today it is called the Linz Symphony. Sights to see include the Dreifaltigkeitssäule - a monument constructed in memorial of the people who died in the plague epidemics. There are several museums and castles in the area as well. Once in Linz, you'll understand why it was such a place of historical significance.