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Vienna

Introduction

Vienna (vēĕnˈə) [key], Ger. Wien, city and province (1991 pop. 1,539,848), 160 sq mi (414 sq km), capital and largest city of Austria and administrative seat of Lower Austria, NE Austria, on the Danube River. The former residence of the Holy Roman emperors and, after 1806, of the emperors of Austria, Vienna is one of the great historic cities of the world and a melting pot of the Germanic, Slav, Italian, and Hungarian peoples and cultures.

Located on a plain surrounded by the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) and the Carpathian foothills, it is a cultural, industrial, commercial, and transportation center. The city is divided into 23 districts grouped roughly in two semicircles around the Innere Stadt, or Inner City. Vienna's industries, mainly concentrated on the left bank of the Danube and in the southern districts, produce electrical appliances, machine tools, paper, and clothing. There are also large oil refineries, breweries, and distilleries. The annual Wiener Messe, an industrial fair (est. 1921), attracts buyers from all over the world. Vienna's musical and theatrical life, its parks, coffeehouses, and museums, make it a great tourist attraction; tourism is of great signficance for the city's economy.

The modern city dates from Francis Joseph's reign (1848–1916). By 1860 the old ramparts around the inner city had been replaced by the famous boulevard, the Ringstrasse. The principal edifices on or near the Ringstrasse are the neo-Gothic Rathaus, with many statues and a tower 320 ft (98 m) high; the domed museums of natural history and of art, in Italian Renaissance style; the Votivkirche, one of the finest of modern Gothic churches; the parliament buildings, in Greek style; the palace of justice; the famous opera house and the Burgtheater, both in Renaissance style; the Künstlerhaus, with painting exhibitions; the Musikverein, containing the conservatory of music; and the Academy of Art. Among Vienna's many other museums are the Albertina, a state museum housed in an 18th-century building, and the Kunstforum, a bold contemporary exhibition space. Near the Albertina is the famous Spanish Riding Academy and the Austrian National Library, completed in 1726. In the late 20th. cent, Danube Island was developed as one of the largest urban parks in Europe; the neighboring Danube City development includes many modern buildings.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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