Landlocked in the heart of Europe, Austria runs from the Alps in
the west down to Vienna and the Danube in the east. For six
centuries it was the heart of the mighty Hapsburg Empire, which at
its peak included what is now Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic along with much of Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans. The
country's imperial inheritance is particularly striking in the
grand buildings and cultural institutions of the Baroque-flavoured
capital, Vienna, resplendent with palaces and captivating churches,
cosy coffeehouses and inns, and grand ballrooms where Strauss
waltzes still draw dancers onto the floor.
Another of the great classical composers spawned by Austria was
Mozart, born in Salzburg, a beautiful historic city where stunning
Baroque churches rise up against the backdrop of the Austrian Alps.
The Alps stretch west to Switzerland and in winter skiers come from
all continents to carve the slopes and experience the charm of the
alpine villages and their welcoming inhabitants.
The charm of Austria may lie in its preservation of a romantic
classical past, but this does not mean modern Austria has stood
back from development. Behind the stunning scenery and antique
architecture a vibrant industrial and commercial society goes about
its business in the cities and towns. Austrians work hard, but they
also know how to play hard. Austrian hospitality and cuisine are
legendary. From a cruise on the magnificent Danube River to a cycle
tour through the Alpine meadows or a breath-taking day's
sightseeing in busy Vienna, visitors to Austria find it impossible
to fit in a dull moment.