Vienna was at the heart of the medieval Holy Roman Empire, and later the mighty Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. Reminders of the city's illustrious past are everywhere - from the Imperial Palace itself to the Hapsburg burial vault and palaces of Belvedere and Schonbrunn, the latter home to Europe's oldest zoo. Indeed, Vienna has many famous sights, including the Spanish Riding School, St Stephen's Cathedral and the Ring Boulevard with its imposing public buildings. Then, of course, there's the Prater pleasure garden, boasting more than 250 attractions dominated by the giant ferries wheel that featured in the iconic Orson Welles film The Third Man.
With many parks and open spaces, Vienna is one of the 'greenest' cities in Europe. It is also renowned for culture, with splendid theatres, an opera house, museums and a musical tradition that goes far beyond those stirring Strauss Viennese waltzes, with Beethoven and Mozart amongst illustrious former resident composers.
No Grand Tour of Europe is complete without seeing Austria's capital, where people still dance the night away to the haunting strains of Strauss waltzes. This fine city sits astride the 'Blue Danube' and in 2001 the old city centre became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflecting its historical importance.
Adolf Hitler also lived here, from 1907 to 1913, trying and failing to enter the Academy of Fine Arts. But he's no more than an unhappy memory, and today's visitors can not only sample the city's traditional and modern architecture and many cultural opportunities, but also enjoy the fine food, vibrant cafe society and nightlife for which the city is justly famous.
To enjoy Vienna at its most laid back, a visit to Danube Island is a must, with its countless bars, restaurants, night clubs, sports opportunities and sandy beach.

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