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History of Vienna

The city of Vienna started its existence as a humble Roman garrison town called Vindobona. The rise of the Babenburg clan in the tenth century brought Vienna to prominence as an important center of trade and governance.

Habsburg rule began in the 13th century, with Rudolf I capturing Vienna. However, the city was not always the first choice for the seat of the Habsburg Empire. It was too vulnerable to attack from the Turks, and therefore, cities such as Prague and Linz were favoured over it. The Turk threat was finally put to rest in the 17th century, leading to a final adoption of Vienna as the imperial capital. The increase in imperial riches from the spoils of war with Turkey had marvelous consequences for Vienna, with the city receiving much of the patronage of Habsburg rulers and reflecting their love for architectural grandeur. The highpoint of Baroque architecture was reached during this period.

During the rule of the Emperor Franz Josef I, the magnificent Ringstrasse and all its surrounding structures were laid out. Imperial wealth and patronage also nurtured some of the best musical talent in the world of Western classical music like Johann Strauss. This aspect of Vienna, reflected in institutions like its annual music festival and in the world-famous Vienna Boys’ Choir, continues to draw the heaviest tourist crowds today.

The character of Vienna as a cosmopolitan city also gave birth to some of the best minds in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, when the city became the watering hole of luminaries such as Freud, Klimt, Schonberg and Mahler. Rational, enlightened municipal planning during the reign of the queen Maria Theresa and for the past two centuries has done much to improve Vienna’s already famous charms.

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