The more time I spend in Vienna, the more I fall in love with this magical city. One of my favorite parts about living here is that I learn something new about Vienna nearly every day. Interesting tidbits about history, food, culture and more.
Here are 10 of my favorite fun facts about Vienna, Austria:
1. THE WINE CAPITAL
Vienna is the only capital city in the world to produce significant quantities of wine within its city limits. Home to over 1,700 acres of vineyards and 320 vintners, the Viennese love their wine. While the most popular are white wine varieties such as Grüner Veltliner, Rheinriesling and Weißburgunder, you can also find some nice reds.
The best way to enjoy the local Viennese wine is in a heuriger (wine tavern), or by walking along Vienna’s Wine Trail.
2. THE CITY OF MUSIC
Vienna is often called The City of Music, or the World’s Capital of Music, as more famous composers have lived here than in any other city in the world. And 4 of the top 10 classical composers in history worked in Vienna between 1750 and 1825. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Johann Straus and Johannes Brahms are just a few who called Vienna home.
While in Vienna, you can visit the former apartments of many of these famous musicians, which have been turned into museums. And don’t miss The House of Music. Here you can “discover the fascinating world of sound and Viennese music in an interactive, playful way”.
3. THE CITY OF DREAMS
Vienna is also called the city of dreams. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, lived and worked in Vienna for much of his career. During this time, he had a significant impact on the city, causing it to be known as the birthplace of psychotherapy.
The Sigmund Freud Museum is housed in the apartment where he lived and worked for nearly 50 years, until he was forced to flee Austria after the Anschluss.
4. THE IMPERIAL MENAGERIE
The Vienna Zoo, or Tiergarten Schönbrunn, is the world’s oldest and only baroque zoo. Built in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace in 1752, the zoo was once the private menagerie of Emporer Franz Stephen and Empress Maria Theresa.
Tiergarten Schönbrunn now boasts over 700 different animal species and was voted the best zoo in Europe. Plus, with its original baroque architechture, it is also considered the world’s most beautiful zoo.
5. AUSTRIAN CROISSANTS
The famous French pastry actually has Viennese origins. They are based on the Austrian kipferl, which means crescent in German. Bakers in Vienna made kipferl to commemorate Austria’s victory over the Ottoman Turks in 1683, their shape based on the crescents seen on the uniform of the enemy.
In 1770, when Maria Antoinette of Austria married King Louis XVI of France, she introduced her favorite pastry to France. The French made a few changes, and called it a croissant.
6. THE WIENER RIESENRAD
The Wiener Riesenrad, constructed in 1897, is the oldest still operating ferris wheel in the world. Located in the Wurstelprater amusement park, this is one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions. For many, it is also a symbol of the city. It is perhaps most famous for its part in the 1949 film The Third Man, considered one of the greatest films of all time.
7. PEZING ALLOWED
Pez, the fun little tablet candies that we all know and love, were invented in Vienna in 1927. The name Pez is an abbreviation on the German word “pfefferminz”, meaning peppermint. Because the original PEZ candies only came in that one flavor! The dispenser was invented in 1949, designed to look like a lighter. Smoking was prohibited at that time, so the Pez slogan was “No Smoking – PEZing Allowed.”
8. THE SNOW GLOBE
The snow globe was also invented in Vienna. In 1900, Erwin Perzy, a fine instruments mechanic, was trying to improve the brightness of lightbulbs for a surgical lamp. But instead, he accidentally invented a snow globe. This first snow globe featured The Basilica of Mariazell, and was the catalyst for Perzy and his brother to open The Original Vienna Snow Globe shop.
Over 100 years later, they are still making traditional snow globes right in Vienna, all hand painted and manually assembled.
9. A CITY DIVIDED
Like Berlin, Vienna was also divided into four parts after WWII, and occupied by the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. The first district of Vienna, the inner city, was administered by all 4 powers. The occupation, and division, of Vienna ended in 1955 with the Austrian State Treaty.
10. VIENNA – THE BEST CITY IN THE WORLD
Vienna has been voted the world’s most livable city for the last 7 years in a row. Taking into account such factors as political, social and economic climate, medical care, education, recreational opportunities, environmental conditions, infrastructural conditions, Vienna consistently comes out on top!