Austria Vacations

Austria is known for its pristine Alpine pastoral landscapes and the elaborately sophisticated towns of Vienna and Strasbourg. Austria's history and culture are closely tied to the Habsburg Monarchy that ruled Austria roughly from 1156–1867. As the power of the Habsburg family increased, due to their alliance with the Holy Roman Empire, so did their wealth and their support for the arts. At one time the Habsburg Empire included the regions of Croatia, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Serbia, Milan, Naples, Sardinia, Lombardy, Dalmatia and Bosnia. And for many centuries, Vienna was the capital of the Habsburg Empire during (1526–1583) and (1611–1804). Austria has contributed many cultural traditions. The Christmas spirit, the Christmas Tree and caroling are traditional Austrian pastimes. Spring pagan festivals which include May Day celebrations and Maypole dancing are still very popular activities.

Austria Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Austria Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Austria

Austria Geography

Austria represents the official Republic of Austria which is also a federal republic, located in Central Europe. This republic is land-locked and contains overall total number of 8.7 million people. It borders Germany and Czech in the north. Along the East is Slovakia and Hungary. To the South is Slovenia and Italy. And along the west border Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is interesting to consider the size of Austria; 600 kilometers is the longest-extension to the East. The overall territory of Austria covers 83.879 sq. km. with mostly high mountains, like the Alps. The Alps cover a territory of whole 62% of this country, so these mountains have the land terrain lying on them with 32% below 500 meters and the highest point being is 3.798 meters.

The Alps have 3 divisions in them, all different to each other in terms of geography and features. On the east west the Alps are named the Northern Calcareous Alps, Central Alps (a base for granite and the highest Alps are in this very range). Then There are the Southern Calcareous Alps. Since the Central Alps are the highest, the altitude naturally decreases the more south or east we go. Alps also somewhat ‘flatten out’ from the west onward (they are highest there) all the way to the east.

The forests cover 40% of Austria. They cover the Alps and area leading into mountain passes . The most crucial mountain passes are Semmering Pass which links Vienna with Murz and the Mur valley in the south. Another notable pass is the Pyrhn Pass which is between the middle between Styria and Upper Austria. The Tauern Pass is in Salzburg and then the Brenner Pass is in Tyrol that goes through the Alps.

Lastly, the area north of the Danube River (Bohmwerwald) stretches to the Czech Republic as well as to Slovakia – here the ground is from a granite mountain range area and this makes up 10% of the land remaining in Austria.

The river Danube is by far the biggest river in Austria – Donau pronounced in German. It runs across this country, from the West to the East. In Europe, this river is the only one that follows such a direction compared to other rivers. The Alps have the role of a watershed, so all the major rivers on the North of big and central mountains, significantly contribute to Danube. They are the Tyrolian Inn, Salzach in Salzburg and the Enns of Upper Austria part.

Austria History and Culture

Today’s Austria and its territory, or the fertile Danube Valley and Alpine valleys, were originally settled during the Paleolithic Age (circa 8000 BC). Then, in 400 BC, the Celtic people of the West of Europe had made their settlements in the eastern Alps. There was a Celtic state developed here, the Noricum, and it was near the region for ironwork in the 2nd century BC. Ever since the 7th century BC onwards, the vital region for the Celtic occupation was the modern-day Austria, with center near Hallstatt – a major prehistoric area for salt-mining. This Hallstatt period, from 750-450 century BC was named of course, after this region. Then, Romans arrived in 200BC and by the time of 15BC they had full domination of this area. Their most important Roman settlement in Austria was Carnuntum (Roman province capital of Pannonia – today this is Lower Austria). So, this became a main center for fortifications of the Romans all along the line of Danube.

Later in the 2nd century AD, many German tribes wanted to extend territory with disastrous and devastating incursions to the Roman areas here. By the middle of 500s, Bavarians had control of the territory between eastern Alps and the region Wienerwald. Later in 800, Charlemagne the Franks’ King and the Roman Emperor had both established their territories along Danube, known as Ostmark (‘Eastern March). Later in 996, Ostmark was for the first time referred as ‘Ostarrichi’, making it a forerunner to the modern German word ‘Osterreich’. Between 976 and 1246, Leopold von Babenberg was the margrave of Ostmark; the Duchy of Austria had enormous feudal possessions from the Babenberg family. This dynasty established the 1st residence in Pocham prior it moved it to Melk, the scenic Wachau region. Then in the 12th century, Henry II had moved to Vienna and this remained the capital ever since. In the 12th century, St. Stephan Cathedral was completed and this was a visible landmark to the city. Also, Henry II founded the Schottenstift monastery in Vienna, of the courtyard and there you can see a statue of him to this day.

A century later, Rudolf I appeared with the crown, thus 6 centuries of Habsburg rule started in Austria. The main part was Imperial Palace of Vienna, which now has many museums for a good overview of the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs gathered more influence through strategic alliances with ratified marriages as well. Due to the premature deaths and childless marriages of the Burgundian and Spanish dynasties (where a grandfather (Maximilian I) and his father (Emperor Charles V) married, there was inheritance to Hereditary Lands and the France-Comte and Netherlands too, but also Spain and its empire in the America.

There were unsuccessful sieges to Vienna by the Turks, between 1529-1683; this prompted Poland, Russia and Venice to conjoin the Habsburg Empire to repel the Turks. Later in the 1690s, Prince Eugene of Savoy was entrusted with the imperial forces. Under his lead, Habsburg won control of just a small portion of Hungary in 1699. When the Turkish threat ended there was a surge in arts and culture. There were magnificent edifices like Schloss Schonbrunn (World Cultural Heritage), also the Salzburger Dom building. Such exceptional objects and monuments were built by excellent architects like Johann Fischer v. Erlach, Jakob Prandtauer, Lukas v. Hildebrandt, Daniel Gran, Franz Anton Maulbertsch, Paul Troger and more.

With the French revolution of 1789 and Napoleon’s rise, he appeared to claim Austrian territories, this was a major threat to the Habsburgs. The Congress of Vienna from 1814-1815 had the purpose of redrawing a political map after Napoleon was defeated. Then in 1848, the French revolution of the middle-class reached Austria, but this rebellion was diminished, so Emperor Franz I and Metternich had cut down civil liberties and included strictness and dictatorship. Thus, people retreated to their homes, focused on non-political affairs and social life as if came to a halt. The next part of the Biedermeier period was glowing, with growth of urbanization, industrialization too and new middle classes of urban form. People socialized again and even art was deeply cherished. Artists of this time worthy of a mention are the painters Friedrich Gauermann and Ferdinand Georg Waldmuller, then the famous composer Franz Schubert, also poets like Ferdinand Raimund, Adalbert Stifter and Franz Grillparzer.

Austria Landmarks

*Danube River and the Wachau (Unesco Heritage Site)
Boat rides along the Danube are very popular and some of the sights along the Danube are brimming in history. One region of the Danube River is called the Wachau and it runs west of Vienna and is famous for its historical villages. Along the river you will find 9th century Bavarian and Salzburg monasteries, which introduced the terraced wine vineyards many centuries ago. Ruins of castles sit atop mountains like a ghost overlooking the changing landscape. The Wachau Valley is one of the most famous wine regions of Austria and home to the Reisling wines. The vineyards create a beautiful tapestry along the sloping hills that surround the Danube.

*Hohe Tauern National Park
Austria sits in the midst of the famous Alps Mountain Range and hiking across the mountains is a favorite pastime activity. Over 60% of Austria located in the mountainous Alpine region. A major national park which includes Austria's highest peak, Grossglockner, is the Hohe Tauern National Park. The park provides over 700 square miles of natural parkland. The Austrian Alpine Club oversees and maintains the huts and pathways within the park. When hiking through the Hohe Tauern National Park you will see huge massif mountains, waterfalls and ancient woodlands. The park is a protected area and home to many unique woodland creatures.

*The City of Graz
Historic Center and Schloss Eggenberg is a witness to an exquisite living heritage of the central European urban complex with influences of secular presence from the Habsburgs, as well as the cultural and artistic roles of main aristocrats and their families. This is a harmony blend or style, architecture and artistic movements that dated from the Middle Ages up until 18th century – getting influences from Central and Mediterranean Europe. This is a diversity and an ensemble or architecture, décor and landscape art altogether.
Places To See in Austria

*The City of Vienna
Vienna Austria was the capital during the Habsburg Empire and its cultural tradition of supporting the arts has placed Vienna center stage in the cultural legacies of the Austrian Empire. The city has been considered the music capital of Europe since the 16th century. Inside Vienna you will find the Schonbrunn Palace. Originally a hunting lodge, it began its transformation into a Royal Palace during the 1600s by the Queen of Germany, Eleonora Gonzaga.

*Salsburg Austria was the birthplace of Mozart and the town houses numerous Baroque Buildings of the 17-18th Centuries.

*Innsbrooke has been the host to the Winter Olympics twice.

*Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammwegut Cultural Landscape.
Human activities in this area of Salzkammergut started in prehistoric times, with major salt deposits exploited in the 2nd millennium BC. This very resource formed the base of the prosperity for this area until the 20th century. This very prosperity is still reflected in exquisite architecture in the town of Hallstatt. The town is a beautiful alpine village located on the shores of Lake Hallstatt. It became a popular destination for 19th century writers and artists because of the beautiful scenery of this 12th century lakeside village. Access to the village was limited to trails and boats until the 1890 when a road was finally built linking the village with the outside world.