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Summary Article: Vienna
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Capital city and autonomous region of Austria, on the River Danube at the foot of the Wiener Wald (Vienna Woods); population (2001) 1,550,100. Although contained within the territory of Lower Austria, it is a separate province.

The United Nations City (1979) houses the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

History Vienna was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1278–1918 and the commercial centre of eastern Europe. The old city walls were replaced by a wide street, the Ringstrasse, in 1860. After much destruction in World War II the city was divided into US, British, French, and Soviet occupation zones 1945–55. Vienna is associated with the waltzes of Johann Strauss, as well as the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Mahler, and the development of atonal music. Also figuring in Vienna's cultural history were the Vienna Sezession group of painters and the philosophical Vienna Circle; psychoanalysis originated here.

Features Renaissance and baroque architecture; St Stephen's Cathedral (12th–16th centuries); the Hofburg (the Habsburgs' imperial palace dating from the 13th century), which was severely damaged by fire in 1992; the 18th-century royal palaces of Schönbrunn and Belvedere, with formal gardens; the opera house (reopened in 1955 after a disastrous fire in 1945); the ferris wheel in the Prater park; the Steiner House (1910) by Adolf Loos; Haus der Musik (House of Music) (2000). Sigmund Freud's home is a museum, and there is a university, built in 1365, with a renowned medical faculty. It is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop and a Protestant bishop. A memorial to the Holocaust, designed by Rachel Whiteread, is built on the Judenplatz, the site of the city's oldest synagogue. In 2001, the MuseumsQuartier Wien, the world's largest contemporary arts centre, opened.

Location The city consists of a medieval inner city (Altstadt) and 23 outer districts. With the exception of the district of Floridsdorf, Vienna lies on the right bank of the Danube, a canalized arm of which also intersects the city. There are several parks, including the celebrated Prater (17 sq km/7 sq mi) situated beside the river to the east of the city. To the west and southwest are the wooded hills known as the Wiener Wald.

Economy Vienna lies on the north–south trade route over the Alps and on the east–west route via the Danube. Among the main manufactures are silk, velvet, clothing, porcelain, carpets, jewellery, mathematical, scientific, and musical instruments, watches, fine cutlery, chemicals, leather goods, furniture, and paper. Industrial employment is exceeded by employment in a wide range of financial, administrative, cultural, educational, and tourist services. Vienna is Austria's most important centre for banking, insurance, and finance-related activities. Manufacturing industries include engineering, electrical goods, electronics, clothing, precision and musical instruments, and beer. It is a major cultural and tourist centre.

Early history On the site of a Celtic settlement the Romans built a garrison town called Vindobona, in which Marcus Aurelius is said to have died. There are no records of the place during the barbarian invasions, but it reappears as Wenia in 881, and in 1137 Wienn is mentioned as a city of Roman origin. In the same year, Henry Jasomirgott made it his capital. The Babenbergs (a merchant dynasty) developed Vienna as a commercial centre, kept a magnificent court, and encouraged the arts.

The Habsburg period In 1278 Vienna became the capital of the Habsburgs, and later the seat of the German emperors. By the end of the 14th century the city had a university and many fine churches and monasteries. It was ravaged by fire in 1525, and was unsuccessfully besieged by the Turks in 1529 and 1683. It was a centre for the counter-reformation and, after the defeat of the Turks, there was a period of rapid expansion. Many palaces (Schwarzenberg), churches (Karlskirche), and other buildings were constructed in baroque style. In the 18th century under Maria Theresa Vienna was the centre of a great empire, and it continued into the 19th century. In the second half of the 19th century the population increased rapidly, particularly in industrial suburbs such as Floridsdorf. The walls were destroyed and replaced by the Ringstrasse in 1860, a broad boulevard that encircles the Altstadt. In 1878 students and industrial workers led a revolution here (in protest at the incompetence of their leaders in the face of a dynamic Prussia), that was quickly suppressed.

20th century After the dissolution of the Austrian Empire during World War I, Vienna remained the chief commercial city in southeast Europe, despite experiencing some diminution of trade. The aftermath of the war caused considerable suffering in the city, and the Social Democrat municipality launched an ambitious programme of social reform. Vienna was among the first cities in the world to build modern blocks of flats for workers. The unsettled state of the country, however, led to several uprisings and clashes between rival parties. From March 1938 until April–May 1945 Vienna was occupied by the Germans, and was an integral part of Germany as the capital of the Ostmark. Anti-Semitism was widespread during this period, leading to pogroms in November 1938. City synagogues were destroyed and lives lost.

Treaties Vienna gives its name to several treaties and gatherings: the Concordat (1448) between the Pope and Frederick III; the treaty of 1689 (Grand Alliance); the peace of 1809, after Napoleon's defeat of Austria (also called the Peace of Schönbrunn); the Congress (1814–15) for the settlement of Europe, following the downfall of Napoleon; and the treaty of 1864 (Schleswig-Holstein).

The imperial art collection The Kunsthistorisches (Art History) Museum in Maria-Theresien Platz was originally the Imperial Gallery formed by Ferdinand I (1529–95), who succeeded his brother Charles V of Spain as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The personal collections of further members of the Habsburg family augmented the gallery, and Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1614–62) commissioned Teniers the Younger, his court painter, to make the first ‘illustrated catalogue’ of the entire collections. The gallery opened to the public in 1781; in 1891 the Imperial collections were all regrouped together in the newly built Kunsthistorisches Museum, under the direction of Franz Joseph I.

Early art works Every European school and leading painter is represented in the painting section; the collections also cover Greek, Etruscan, Roman and early Christian antiquities, Egyptian and Oriental art. The museum is rich in early Flemish and Dutch masters; outstanding are major works by Brueghel (including three out of a remaining five of the ‘Months’ series; The Peasant Wedding and The Tower of Babel). Others include works by Mabuse, Jacob Cornelisz, Jan van Eyck, Memlinc, and Hugo van der Goes; of a later date are works by Ter Borch, Jan van der Capelle, Brouwer, Van Goyen, Ruisdael, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, and Rembrandt; the latter is represented by eight paintings, including that of his son Titus. Other great Flemish painters represented are Rubens (Festival of Venus, St Ambrose and the Emperor Theodosius, and Ignatius casting out Devils); Van Dyck, and Jordaens. Dürer's Trinity is another outstanding work, and also in Vienna are his Young Venetian Woman and a Madonna and Child.

Italian works Works from the Venetian and other Italian schools, include Titian's dramatic Ecce Homo, and some of his finest portraits; Tintoretto's Susanna and the Elders; Palma Vecchio; Paris Bordone; and Giorgione's Three Philosophers. Among later Italians are Correggio's Jupiter and Io; Parmigianino's Cupid Shaping his Bow; Fra Bartolommeo's Presentation in the Temple. Two other important works are Bertoldo di Giovanni's sculpture Bellerophon Mastering Pegasus, and Cellini's masterpiece, the gold Saliera (salt cellar).

English works Holbein is represented with portraits of Jane Seymour and John Chambers. There are also works by Hogarth, Reynolds, and Gainsborough.

Other art collections The Albertina Collection in Augustinerstrasse houses outstanding collections of graphic art and master drawings, originally formed by Albert Casimir of Saxony (1738–1822) and his Habsburg heirs. The collection opened to the public in 1822 and in 1919 was combined with the print collection of the old Imperial Library. Artists from the 15th century onward are represented, especially Dürer, Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Claude Lorraine, Callot, Munch, and Picasso. Also in Vienna is the Lichtenstein collection, with paintings by Rubens and Van Dyck.


Eden, Morton: Death of Archduke Leopold, Palatine of Hungary




National Parliament Building

Old Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace


© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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