100+ Interesting Facts About Vienna: The City of Dreams

A comprehensive list of fun and interesting facts about Vienna

Grüss Gott!” Welcome to Vienna, Austria, one of the great capital cities of Europe. With over 2500 years of history, Vienna has been the center of expansive empires and is today one or Europe’s most livable cities.  

In this article, you’ll learn over a hundred fun facts about Vienna, nicknamed the “City of Dreams”!

General Vienna Facts 

  • Vienna is called Wien in the local language (German), which sounds like “Veen”. 
  • 2.3 million people live in the Austrian capital, equivalent to 1/3rd of the country’s population. It is the second-largest German-speaking city after Berlin, and was the largest one until the early 20th century. 
  • Mercer ranked Vienna as the world’s #1 city in terms of overall quality of living every year from 2009 to 2019. 
A park in Vienna with a church in the background
One of over 2000 parks and green spaces in Vienna
  • Vienna is one of the greenest capitals in Europe and is sometimes referred to as the “city of parks.” More than half of the metropolitan area is green, including over 2000 parks.  
  • Vienna consists of 23 Bezirke, or districts, which spiral outward in a clockwise direction from the center.
  • Vienna is antipodal to the Chatham Islands of New Zealand.  
  • Vienna is only 31 miles (50 km) from Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.
  • Vienna was a capital of the Holy Roman Empire and later the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire, for a total of over 350 years.  

Interesting Facts about Vienna 

  • Vienna has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. It comes directly from nearby mountains on two mountain spring pipelines. 
  • Vienna has over 1000 drinking fountains and 55 decorative fountains.  
A large water fountain in Vienna
Vienna has a huge number of water fountains and extremely fresh water.
  • Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, went to university and set up his practice in Vienna, until he fled to escape Nazi persecution. Because of Freud’s work, Vienna is sometimes called the “City of Dreams.” 
  • There is a huge underground network of tunnels, crypts, catacombs, cellars, and stables under the city of Vienna. Some of them date back to Roman times.  
Snow globes for sale in Vienna
Snow globes for sale in Vienna
  • Snow globes were invented by accident in Vienna. Austrian Erwin Perzy had been trying to make a brighter surgical lamp. His mistake reminded him of snow and he got the idea. He later opened the original Vienna Snow Globe Shop. Snow globes are still a popular product in Vienna and they are usually handmade.  
  • Vienna has six Flaktürme (flak towers) leftover from WWII. The towers were once able to fire 8000 rounds per minute with a range of up to 14 kilometers in any direction. Today, five of the towers are obsolete and one houses Haus des Meeres, an aquarium and reptile zoo. When you enter Haus des Meeres, you may see a crocodile swimming above the glass ceiling of the lobby. 
Exterior of Haus des Meeres, a Vienna aquarium housed in a flak tower.
Haus des Meeres is housed in a WWII flak tower.
  • The historic center of Vienna was in danger of losing its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, but the city has worked hard to address the issues and may be removed from the Endangered World Heritage Site list by 2022. 
  • Hofburg was the imperial palace of the Hofburg Dynasty. Today it is the residence of the President of Austria. It was first built in the 13th century but has been expanded many times, with each emperor leaving his mark.
  • The Hofburg has 18 wings, 19 courtyards, and over 2600 rooms.
  • More than 5000 people work in the Hofburg.  
Statue of Archduke Charles in front of Hofburg
Hofburg was the seat of the Habsburgs for 645 years.
  • Stephansdom, or St. Stephan’s Cathedral, is Vienna’s most important religious structure. The cathedral has hosted numerous weddings and funerals of emperors, celebrities, and even Mozart.   
  • The catacombs below Stephansdom house funeral urns that contain the entrails of 56 members of the Habsburg royal family
Exterior of Stephansdom, or St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna
Stephansdom is the most important cathedral in Vienna.
  • Vienna Zoo, or Tiergarten Schönbrunn, is the world’s oldest zoo that is still operating. It was part of the imperial summer place at Schönbrunn. It dates back to 1752, when it was built as a private menagerie for Emperor Franz Stephen and Empress Maria Theresa. 
  • Vienna’s Wiener Riesenrad is the oldest still-running Ferris wheel in the world. It was constructed in 1897, and repaired after serious damage in WW2. It has been featured in several films, including a romantic scene is the 1987 James Bond film The Living Daylights
One of the cars of the Wiener Riesenrad in Vienna
Wiener Riesenrad is the oldest still-running Ferris wheel in the world.
  • The Spanish Riding School is one of the ‘Big Four’ riding academies, and the oldest of its kind, in the world. It is named after the Spanish horses that formed the base of the Lipizzan horse breed, used exclusively there. The school still performs in the Hofburg today.
  • Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular market. It dates back to the 16th century, when milk bottles were the main item sold there. 
Dried fruits, Naschmarkt, Vienna
Dried foods in Naschmarkt, Vienna’s most popular market.
  • Vienna has more than 100 museums. These include museums covering subjects like technology, cameras, natural history, Jewish history, military history, art, literature, Mozart, and Freud. There are also some more unusual ones dedicated to clowns, clocks, globes, horse carriages, crime, schnapps, illusions, wax models, disfigured skeletons, funeral objects, fake artworks, and coffee.  
  • Vienna’s Museumsquartier is one of the world’s largest exhibition spaces (90,000m2). Its numerous museums and cultural institutions contain an enormous amount of important artworks and cultural relics. 
Gasometer apartments in Vienna.
The Vienna gasometers have been converted into apartment blocks.
  • Four massive gasometers (large circular buildings that house depressurizing gas) have been converted into apartment blocks. After being decommissioned in 1984, but before turning into apartments, they were a popular venue for raves.  
  • There are several “beaches” in Vienna, mostly along the the Alte Donau (Old Danube) and Neue Donau (New Danube), a flood relief channel that runs parallel to the Danube. They are mostly human-made beaches or beaches actually made of grass.   
  • The Donauinsel is a 21.1 km (13.1 mile) artificial island between the Danube and New Danube, a human-made channel beside it. It is known for swimming and other recreational activities, including several areas dedicated to FKK (Freikörperkultur, or “Free Body Culture”, i.e. going nude).
  • The Wiener Eislaufverein is one of the world’s largest outdoor ice rinks. It has an area of just under 1000 square meters (107,000 square feet).
A lighthouse and other leisure facilities on Donauinsel, an artificial island on the Danube
Donauinsel is an artificial island on the Danube in Vienna.
  • Republic of Kugelmugel is a 0.00003 km2 micronation in Vienna. The artist who created it declared independence in 1976. It has 650 citizens, none of whom actually reside there. It is currently located in Prater and run by the city as a tourist attraction, after its founder died in 2015. 
  • One of the United Nations’ three international subsidiary headquarters is in Vienna (the other two are in Geneva and Nairobi).
  • Wienerwald, or Vienna Woods, is home to two endangered species: green lizards and Ural owls.
  • Vienna has over 20 annual Christmas markets, as well as several Easter markets.  
Stalls of a Christmas market at Belvedere Palace
One of Vienna’s 20+ Christmas markets
  • It is possible to spend the night in Schönbrunn Palace, the summer palace of the Habsburg rulers, at the Schloss Schönbrunn Grand Suite. Rates begin at €599 per night, but are usually quite a bit more.
  • The films The Third Man and Before Sunrise were shot in Vienna. The Oscar-winning Amadeus was set in Vienna, but actually filmed in Czech Republic. 
  • The Wiener Zeitung is one of the oldest newspapers still being published in the world. It was founded in 1703. 
  • Heumühle auf der Wieden, the oldest house in Vienna, dates to the 13th century. 
  • It is possible to visit “ugly” architecture in Vienna on a Vienna Ugly Tour.

Facts about Vienna History 

  • Vienna was a Celtic settlement as early as 500 BCE.
  • Later it was the site of a Roman military settlement called Vindobona.  
Roman ruins in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna
Roman ruins at Schönbrunn Palace
  • The name Vienna was first used in 1030. 
  • In the Middle Ages, visiting bathhouses to clean the body was a part of daily life in Vienna.  
  • During the plague, people stopped visiting bathhouses and instead started wearing powder, perfume, and wigs. Women put honey on tubes around the legs to prevent parasites like fleas from walking up them.  
  • The Habsburgs, or House of Austria, ruled from Vienna from 1278 to 1918. The family produced rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Astro-Hungarian Empire, as well as kings of Bohemia, Hungary, Croatia, Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.  
Carved column inside Upper Belvedere Palace
A column inside Belvedere Palace
  • The Upper and Lower Belvedere palaces in Vienna were commissioned by Prince Eugene of Savoy, a general of the Holy Roman Empire. He built them with the money he received as a reward for his victories in the battle. They were one of the largest construction projects ever untaken by a private individual. Eugene was a keen hunter and zoologist, and he filled his gardens with rare plants and animals from around the globe, including a lion.
  • Karlskirche is the most impressive baroque cathedral in Vienna. It was built from 1716 – 1737 to celebrate victory over the plague. 
Column and dome of Karlskirche
Karlskirche is the most impressive Baroque cathedral in Vienna.
  • Maria Theresa was the only female ruler of the Habsburgs. She modernized the empire by introducing many reforms.  
  • Empress Elisabeth was the wife of Franz Joseph I, the longest reigning emperor of Austria. Many believe that his social successes were the result of her influence and that she was the true leader. She was lovingly called “Sisi” by the people.  
  • The principal architect of the Staatsoper (State Opera House), Eduard van der Nüll committed suicide after Emperor Franz Joseph I said it looked like a train station.
Wiener Staatsoper, or State Opera House, Vienna
State Opera House, Vienna
  • Napoleon occupied Vienna in 1805 and again in 1809. After Napoleon was defeated in 1813, the European powers met in Vienna to make territorial discussions.  
  • The Habsburgs’ defeat in WWI led to the loss of their lands and crown.  
  • The small Republic of Austria emerged after WW1.  
  • The Nazis marched on Vienna in 1938 and declared Vienna part of the Third Reich.  
  • After WWII, Vienna was divided into 4 zones, similar to how Berlin was divided in two, and each zone was occupied by Great Britain, France, Russia, or the US. Austria gained sovereignty in 1955.  
  • Because Vienna was home to so many diplomats and international organizations, it also become known as a center of espionage during the Cold War.  
A "U" sign for the U-Bahn in Vienna
U-Bahn sign in Vienna
  • Vienna’s U-Bahn transportation system was first opened in 1978. The U stands for Untergrundbahn, which is German for “underground railway.”
  • DC Tower 1, completed in 2014, is the tallest building in Vienna and Austria, at 250 meters. It is one of the few skyscrapers in the city. 
  • In 2022, murals appeared in Vienna showing collaboration with and support for Uraine.

Facts about Music and Dance in Vienna 

  • Vienna is known as the “City of Music” and “capital of Classical music,” thanks mainly to several significant composers who lived there in the late 18th century. More famous composers have lived there than in any other city. 
  • Mozart was born and raised in Salzburg, but wrote his greatest works in Vienna, until he died in his Vienna home at the young age of 35.  
Mozart Monument and flowers shaped like a musical note, located in Burggarten, Vienna
Mozart Monument in Burggarten, Vienna
  • Beethoven, who was born in Bonn, Germany, moved to Vienna in at the age of 22. He gave his first performance ever at the Vienna Court Theater in 1795.  He is said to have lived in 80 different places in his 35 years in Vienna.
  • Beethoven studied under Joseph Haydn, who had been a choirboy at Stephansdom. Along with Beethoven and Mozart, Haydn is considered the third important composer in the Vienna Classical Period. 
  • The proliferation of performances and the crowds these composers attracted prompted the building of a large number of theaters and opera houses, including Burgtheater, the most important theater in the German-speaking world. 
Interior of Vienna State Opera
Interior of Vienna State Opera
  • Viennese waltz is the original version of the waltz dance, and it emerged round 1750. It is faster than the English waltz, which is popularly known simply as “the waltz” in English today, with about twice as many beats per minute. 
  • The Vienna Boys’ Choir has roots going back over 500 years. Today the choir is made up of over 100 boys from across Austria and several other countries. They give around 300 performances per year. 
  • Of the many statues in Vienna, the gold gilded statue of Johann Strauss playing a violin in Stadtpark is the city’s most iconic. Strauss, who was born and died in Vienna, was known as “The Waltz King” and composed over 500 songs. 
Close-up of Johann Strauss statue in Vienna.
The gold gilded Strauss statue is Vienna’s most famous.
  • Maria von Trapp, the inspiration for the The Sound of Music, was born in Vienna in 1905. 
  • Vienna has a museum dedicated to music and sound, the Haus der Musik. It is a popular attraction, especially among children.  
  • Every year, more than 450 balls take place in Vienna. Ball season is generally from January to March. 

Vienna Facts about Art & Architecture 

  • Venus of Willendorf is widely considered the oldest piece of art in the world. It was found in Austria and is housed in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.  
  • The Vienna Secession (1897–1914) was the most significant art movement in Vienna. It was related to Art Nouveau and included the works of Josef Hoffman, Koloman Moser, Otto Wagner, and Gustav Klimt. 
  • The most famous building associated with the Vienna Secession is the Secessionsgebäude, or Secession Building. The Secession artists created it as their architectural manifesto. Today it houses Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze.
  • Klimt’s The Kiss is the most famous painting in Vienna. It is housed in the Upper Belvedere, the most visited art museum in Austria, along with several other Klimt works.  
A crowd of people looking and taking pictures of The Kiss painting by Klimt
Tourists surrounding Klimt’s The Kiss in Belvedere Art Gallery
  • Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was stolen from the Belvedere by the Nazis in WWII. Today it is at Neue Galerie in New York City
  • The octagonal Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire was also stolen by the Nazis but recovered and returned to Austria by the US at the end of WWII. It is now housed in the Hofburg’s Imperial Treasury. 
  • The Kunsthistorisches Museum is the largest art museum in the country and one of the most important in the world. It houses more than 700,000 artistic treasures assembled by the Habsburgs, including an enormous coin collection.  
Colorful outer wall of Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna
Eccentric, uneven architecture of Hundertwassen
  • The bizarre-looking Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment in Vienna designed by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The colorful, expressionist piece of architecture is famous for its uneven floors, forested rooftop, and window facades which tenants are allowed to individually decorate. Hundertwasser once called straight lines “godless.”
  • At 1100 meters, and spanning 4 Straßenbahn (tram) stops, the Karl-Marx-Hof is one of the longest residential structures in the world.  


Facts about Viennese Foods & Drinks 

  • Viennese food is characteristic of Austrian cuisine, with wiener schnitzel (breaded veal cutlets) and pastries being the most well-known items.  
Wiener schnitzel on a plate with potatoes.
Wiener Schnitzel is Vienna’s signature dish.
  • Viennese food has been influenced by the various regions that belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire and other parts of Europe, including Bohemia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, the Balkans, France, and more.  
  • In Vienna, there is a whole set of local vocabulary associated with different styles of sausage and their toppings. Wiener means “Viennese”, so the fact that some call hot dogs “wieners” suggests that the sausage was invented in Vienna (Frankfurt in Germany makes the same argument based on the word frankfurter).
  • Growing immigrant communities in Vienna have added Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisine to the local food scene. 
A single, large vegetarian dumpling on a white plate and served in Vienna
A vegetarian dumpling in Vienna
  • Despite its traditionally meat-heavy diet, Vienna is today rated as one of the best cities in the world for vegetarians.  
  • Vienna has its own signature bread, Vienna bread. The process for making it was developed in 1846 after a shortage of beer yeast, which had formerly been used.  
  • The Viennese Kaffeehaus, or coffee house, is such an important institution that UNESCO lists it as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Traditional Vienna coffee houses were elegant, historically designed places where customers spent many hours reading newspapers.  
A typical cafe in Vienna
A cafe in Vienna
  • Vienna also has its own set of vocabulary for coffee beverages, such as Kleiner Schwarzer (espresso), Verlängerter (similar to Americano), and Wiener Melange (similar to cappuccino). The English term “Vienna coffee” usually refers to an espresso with whipped cream on top, but in Vienna that is usually called a kapuziner.  
  • Ottakringer is Vienna’s most well-known brewery. It hosts the annual Ottakringer Bierfest throughout summer. Locals nicknamed the beer 16er-Blech, after the 16th district of Vienna where it was originally brewed (Blech means “tin”, after the beer’s tin cans). This led the brewery to release a beer of that name.  
  • Vienna is the only capital in the world that produces sizable amounts of wine in the city. The main varieties are Grüner Veltliner and Weissburgunder, both whites. The city and area around it are known for their Heurigen, or winemaker taverns. 
A whole Sachertorte cake, which was invented in Vienna
Sachertorte is a signature Vienna dessert.
  • Sachertorte was invented in Vienna by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Metternich. It is a dense chocolate cake with apricot jam.
  • Restaurant Amador is Vienna’s only restaurant with 3 Michelin stars. It is located in a vaulted wine cellar.  
  • Pez candies were invented in Vienna in 1927. They began as breath mints in small tins and were marketed as an alternative to tobacco.  
  • Griechenbeisl is Vienna’s oldest restaurant, first opened in 1447, and still serving customers today. Beethoven, Shubert, and Strauss all dined there.
  • Around 600 beekeepers maintain over 5000 bee colonies is Vienna.

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