Cities in the Spotlight: Vienna, Austria
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
In today's post, we will once again be traveling to Europe. This time we are exploring Vienna, Austria.
Vienna City Information
Vienna is the capital, the largest city, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's most populous city and its primate city, with about two million inhabitants (2.9 million within the metropolitan area, nearly one-third of the country's population), and its cultural, economic, and political center. It is the 6th-largest city proper by population in the European Union and the largest of all cities on the Danube river. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Vienna was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had two million inhabitants. Today, it is the second-largest German-speaking city after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations, OPEC, and the OSCE. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger. Additionally, Vienna is known as the "City of Music" due to its musical legacy, as many famous classical musicians such as Beethoven and Mozart called Vienna home. Vienna is also said to be the "City of Dreams" because it was home to the world's first psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. Vienna's ancestral roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that transformed into a Medieval and Baroque city. It is well known for having played a pivotal role as a leading European music center, from the age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic center of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque palaces and gardens, and the late-19th-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings, monuments, and parks.
Evidence has been found of continuous habitation in the Vienna area since 500 BC, when Celts settled the site on the Danube. In 15 BC, the Romans fortified the frontier city they called Vindobona to guard the empire against Germanic tribes to the north. Close ties with other Celtic peoples continued through the ages. The Irish monk Saint Colman (or Koloman, Irish Colmán, derived from colm "dove") is buried in Melk Abbey and Saint Fergil (Virgil the Geometer) served as Bishop of Salzburg for forty years. Irish Benedictines founded twelfth-century monastic settlements; evidence of these ties persists in the form of Vienna's great Schottenstift monastery (Scots Abbey), once home to many Irish monks. In 976, Leopold I of Babenberg became count of the Eastern March, a district centered on the Danube on the eastern frontier of Bavaria. This initial district grew into the duchy of Austria. Each succeeding Babenberg ruler expanded the march east along the Danube, eventually encompassing Vienna and the lands immediately east. In 1145, Duke Henry II Jasomirgott moved the Babenberg family residence from Klosterneuburg in Lower Austria to Vienna. From that time, Vienna remained the center of the Babenberg dynasty. In 1440, Vienna became the resident city of the Habsburg dynasty. It eventually grew to become the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) in 1437 and a cultural center for arts and science, music and fine cuisine. Hungary occupied the city between 1485 and 1490. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Christian forces twice stopped Ottoman armies outside Vienna, in the 1529 Siege of Vienna and the 1683 Battle of Vienna. The Great Plague of Vienna ravaged the city in 1679, killing nearly a third of its population.
In 1804, during the Napoleonic Wars, Vienna became the capital of the newly formed Austrian Empire. The city continued to play a major role in European and world politics, including hosting the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15. The city also saw major uprisings against Habsburg rule in 1848, which were suppressed. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Vienna remained the capital of what became the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city functioned as a center of classical music, for which the title of the First Viennese School (Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven) is sometimes applied. During the latter half of the 19th century, Vienna developed what had previously been the bastions and glacis into the Ringstraße, a new boulevard surrounding the historical town and a major prestige project. Former suburbs were incorporated, and the city of Vienna grew dramatically. In 1918, after World War I, Vienna became capital of the Republic of German-Austria, and then in 1919 of the First Republic of Austria. From the late-19th century to 1938, the city remained a center of high culture and of modernism. A world capital of music, Vienna played host to composers such as Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler and Richard Strauss. The city's cultural contributions in the first half of the 20th century included, among many, the Vienna Secession movement in art, psychoanalysis, the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg, Webern), the architecture of Adolf Loos and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle. In 1913 Adolf Hitler, Leon Trotsky, Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud and Joseph Stalin all lived within a few kilometers of each other in central Vienna, some of them becoming regulars at the same coffeehouses. Austrians came to regard Vienna as a center of socialist politics, sometimes referred to as "Red Vienna" (Das rote Wien). In the Austrian Civil War of 1934 Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss sent the Austrian Army to shell civilian housing such as the Karl Marx-Hof occupied by the socialist militia.
In 1938, after a triumphant entry into Austria, the Austrian-born German Chancellor Adolf Hitler spoke to the Austrian Germans from the balcony of the Neue Burg, a part of the Hofburg at the Heldenplatz. In the ensuing days the new Nazi authorities oversaw the harassment of Viennese Jews, the looting of their homes, and their on-going deportation and murder. Between 1938 (after the Anschluss) and the end of the Second World War in 1945, Vienna lost its status as a capital to Berlin, because Austria ceased to exist and became part of Nazi Germany. During the November pogroms on November 9, 1938, 92 synagogues in Vienna were destroyed. Only the city temple in the 1st district was spared, as the data of all Jews in Vienna were collected in the adjacent archives. Adolf Eichmann held office in the expropriated Palais Rothschild and organized the expropriation and persecution of the Jews. Of the almost 200,000 Jews in Vienna, around 120,000 were driven to emigrate and around 65,000 were killed. After the end of the war, the Jewish population of Vienna was only about 5,000. Vienna was also the center of the important resistance group around Heinrich Maier, which provided the Allies with plans for V-1, V-2 rockets, Peenemünde, Tiger tanks, Messerschmitt Bf 109, Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, and other aircraft. The information was important to Operation Crossbow and Operation Hydra, both preliminary missions for Operation Overlord. In addition, factory locations for war-essential products were communicated as targets for the Allied Air Force. The group was exposed and most of its members were executed after months of torture by the Gestapo in Vienna. The group around the later executed Karl Burian even tried to blow up the Gestapo headquarters in the Hotel Metropole. On 2 April 1945, the Soviet Red Army launched the Vienna Offensive against the Germans holding the city and besieged it. British and American air raids, as well as artillery duels between the Red Army and the SS and Wehrmacht, crippled infrastructure, such as tram services and water- and power distribution, and destroyed or damaged thousands of public and private buildings. The Red Army was helped by an Austrian resistance group in the German Wehrmacht. The group tried under the code name Radetzky to prevent the destruction and fighting in the city. Vienna fell eleven days later. At the end of the war, Austria again became separated from Germany, and Vienna regained its status as the capital city of the Republic of Austria, but the Soviet hold on the city remained until 1955 when Austria regained full sovereignty.
After the war, Vienna was part of Soviet-occupied Eastern Austria until September 1945. As in Berlin, Vienna in September 1945 was divided into sectors by the four powers: the US, the UK, France, and the Soviet Union, and supervised by an Allied Commission. The four-power occupation of Vienna differed in one key respect from that of Berlin: the central area of the city, known as the first district, constituted an international zone in which the four powers alternated control on a monthly basis. The control was policed by the four powers on a de facto day-to-day basis, the famous "four soldiers in a jeep" method. The Berlin Blockade of 1948 raised Western concerns that the Soviets might repeat the blockade in Vienna. The matter was raised in the UK House of Commons by MP Anthony Nutting, who asked: "What plans have the Government for dealing with a similar situation in Vienna? Vienna is in exactly a similar position to Berlin." There was a lack of airfields in the Western sectors, and authorities drafted contingency plans to deal with such a blockade. Plans included the laying down of metal landing mats at Schönbrunn. The Soviets did not blockade the city. The Potsdam Agreement included written rights of land access to the western sectors, whereas no such written guarantees had covered the western sectors of Berlin. Also, there was no precipitating event to cause a blockade in Vienna. (In Berlin, the Western powers had introduced a new currency in early 1948 to economically freeze out the Soviets.) During the 10 years of the four-power occupation, Vienna became a hotbed for international espionage between the Western and Eastern blocs. In the wake of the Berlin Blockade, the Cold War in Vienna took on a different dynamic. While accepting that Germany and Berlin would be divided, the Soviets had decided against allowing the same state of affairs to arise in Austria and Vienna. Here, the Soviet forces controlled districts 2, 4, 10, 20, 21, and 22 and all areas were incorporated into Vienna in 1938. Barbed wire fences were installed around the perimeter of West Berlin in 1953, but not in Vienna. By 1955, the Soviets, by signing the Austrian State Treaty, agreed to relinquish their occupation zones in Eastern Austria as well as their sector in Vienna. In exchange they required that Austria declare its permanent neutrality after the allied powers had left the country. Thus they ensured that Austria would not be a member of NATO and that NATO forces would therefore not have direct communications between Italy and West Germany.
The atmosphere of four-power Vienna is the background for Graham Greene's screenplay for the film The Third Man (1949). Later he adapted the screenplay as a novel and published it. Occupied Vienna is also depicted in the 1991 Philip Kerr novel, A German Requiem.
The four-power control of Vienna lasted until the Austrian State Treaty was signed in May 1955. That year, after years of reconstruction and restoration, the State Opera and the Burgtheater, both on the Ringstraße, reopened to the public. The Soviet Union signed the State Treaty only after having been provided with a political guarantee by the federal government to declare Austria's neutrality after the withdrawal of the allied troops. This law of neutrality, passed in late October 1955 (and not the State Treaty itself), ensured that modern Austria would align with neither NATO nor the Soviet bloc, and is considered one of the reasons for Austria's delayed entry into the European Union in 1995. In the 1970s, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky inaugurated the Vienna International Center, a new area of the city created to host international institutions. Vienna has regained much of its former international stature by hosting international organizations, such as the United Nations (United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Office at Vienna, and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Travel to Vienna
*taken from Lonely Planet*
Baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna's artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes. Vienna's imperial grandeur is the legacy of the powerful Habsburg monarchy. Their home for more than six centuries, the Hofburg palace complex, incorporates the Burgkapelle (Imperial Chapel), where the Vienna Boys' Choir sings Sunday Mass, and the famed Spanish Riding School, where Lipizzaner stallions perform elegant equine ballet, along with a trove of museums, including in the chandeliered Kaiserappartements (Imperial Apartments). Other immense palaces include the baroque Schloss Belvedere and the Habsburgs' 1441-room summer residence, Schloss Schönbrunn, while 19th-century splendors such as the neo-Gothic Rathaus (City Hall) line the magnificent Ringstrasse encircling the Innere Stadt (inner city). One of the Habsburgs' most dazzling Rinsgstrasse palaces, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, houses the imperial art collection. It's packed with priceless works by Old Masters, and treasures including one of the world's richest coin collections. Behind the Hofburg, the former imperial stables have been transformed into the innovative MuseumsQuartier, with a diverse ensemble of museums, showcasing 19th- and 20th-century Austrian art at the Leopold Museum to often-shocking avant-garde works at the contemporary MUMOK. Meteorites, fossils and prehistoric finds fill the Naturhistorisches Museum, while exquisite furnishings at the applied-arts Museum für Angewandte Kunst are also among the artistic feasts in store. With a musical heritage that includes composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss (father and son), Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler, among countless others, Vienna is known as the City of Music. Its cache of incredible venues where you can catch performances today include the acoustically renowned Musikverein, used by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the gold-and-crystal main opera house, the Staatsoper, and the multistage Konzerthaus, as well as the dedicated home of the Vienna Boys' Choir, MuTh. Music comes to life through interactive exhibits at the captivating Haus der Musik museum. The Viennese appreciation of the finer things in life extends to its opulent coffee-house 'living rooms' serving spectacular cakes; its beloved pub-like Beisln dishing up hearty portions of Wiener schnitzel, Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef) and goulash; elegant restaurants; and its fine Austrian wines served in vaulted Vinothek (wine bar) cellars, and in rustic vine-draped Heurigen (wine taverns) in the vineyards fringing the city. Local and international delicacies fill the heady Naschmarkt stalls, and creative chefs are experimenting with local produce and fresh new flavour combinations in innovative, often repurposed venues.
Must See Sites
Stephansdom; Vienna’s Gothic masterpiece Stephansdom – or Steffl (Little Stephan), as it’s ironically nicknamed – is Vienna's pride and joy. A church has stood here since the 12th century, and reminders of this are the Romanesque Riesentor (Giant Gate) and Heidentürme (Towers of the Heathens). From outside, the first thing that will strike you is the glorious tiled roof, with its dazzling row of chevrons and Austrian eagle. Inside, the magnificent Gothic stone pulpit presides over the main nave, fashioned in 1515 by Anton Pilgrim. One often-overlooked detail is the pulpit’s handrail, which has salamanders and toads fighting an eternal battle of good versus evil up and down its length. The baroque high altar, at the very far end of the main nave, shows the stoning of St Stephen. The chancel to its left has the winged Wiener Neustadt altarpiece, dating from 1447; the right chancel has the Renaissance red-marble tomb of Friedrich III. Under his guidance, the city became a bishopric (and the church a cathedral) in 1469.
MuseumsQuartier; The MuseumsQuartier is a remarkable ensemble of museums, cafes, restaurants and bars inside former imperial stables designed by Fischer von Erlach. This breeding ground of Viennese cultural life is the perfect place to hang out and watch or meet people on warm evenings. With over 90,000 sq metres of exhibition space – including the Leopold Museum, MUMOK, Kunsthalle Wien, Architekturzentrum and Zoom – the complex is one of the world’s most ambitious cultural hubs.
Schloss Belvedere; A masterpiece of total art, Schloss Belvedere is one of the world’s finest baroque palaces. Designed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt (1668–1745), it was built for the brilliant military strategist Prince Eugene of Savoy, conqueror of the Turks in 1718. What giddy romance is evoked in its sumptuously frescoed halls, replete with artworks by Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka; what stories are conjured in its landscaped gardens, which drop like the fall of a theatre curtain to reveal Vienna's skyline. The first of the palace's two buildings is the Oberes Belvedere (Upper Belvedere), showcasing Gustav Klimt's The Kiss (1908), the perfect embodiment of Viennese art nouveau, alongside other late-19th- to early-20th-century Austrian works. The lavish Unteres Belvedere (Lower Belvedere), with its richly frescoed Marmorsaal (Marble Hall), sits at the end of the sculpture-dotted gardens.
Hofburg; Nothing symbolizes Austria's resplendent cultural heritage more than its Hofburg, the home base of the Habsburgs from 1273 to 1918. The oldest section is the 13th-century Schweizerhof (Swiss Courtyard), named after the Swiss guards who protected its precincts. The Renaissance Swiss Gate dates from 1553. The courtyard adjoins a larger courtyard, In der Burg, with a monument to Emperor Franz II adorning its centre. The palace now houses the Austrian president's offices, the preserved Kaiserappartements, and a raft of museums. The Hofburg owes its size and architectural diversity to plain old one-upmanship; new sections were added by the new rulers, including the early baroque Leopold Wing, the 16th-century Amalia Wing, the 18th-century Imperial Chancery Wing and the Gothic Burgkapelle (Royal Chapel).
Schloss Schönbrunn; The Habsburgs' opulent summer palace is now a Unesco World Heritage site. Of its 1441 rooms, 40 are open to the public; the Imperial Tour takes you into 22 of these, including the private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi. The Grand Tour continues to the other 18 rooms and includes the 18th-century interiors from the time of Maria Theresia. These mandatory tours are done with a free audio guide (or app); the Grand Tour can also be done with a tour guide.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna; A highlight of any trip to Vienna is a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, brimming with works by Europe’s finest painters, sculptors and artisans. Set within a neoclassical building that rivals the art it contains, the museum's collections span Classical Rome to Egypt and the Renaissance. With limited time, be sure to dedicate at least an hour or two to the old masters in the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery). The huge range of art amassed by the Habsburgs is simply extraordinary. Keep an eye out for Picture Gallery highlights such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Tower of Babel (1563), Raphael's Madonna of the Meadow (1506) and Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Summer (1563).
Rathaus; Vienna's neo-Gothic City Hall, completed in 1883 by Friedrich von Schmidt (who designed Cologne Cathedral) and modelled on Flemish city halls, with lacy stonework, pointed-arch windows, and spindly turrets, is the highlight of the Ringstrasse boulevard's 19th-century architectural ensemble. Bronze statues of Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss I stand in the fountain-filled Rathauspark. Free one-hour guided tours are in German; multilingual audio guides are also free. The main spire is 102m high if you include the pennant held by the medieval knight, or Rathausmann, guarding its tip.
Karlskirche; Built between 1716 and 1739, after a vow by Karl VI at the end of the 1713 plague, Vienna's finest baroque church rises at the southeast corner of Resselpark. It was designed and commenced by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and completed by his son Joseph. The huge elliptical copper dome reaches 72m; the highlight is the lift to the cupola (included in admission) for a close-up view of the intricate frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr. The enormous twin columns at the front are modelled on Trajan’s Column in Rome and show scenes from the life of St Charles Borromeo (who helped plague victims in Italy), to whom the church is dedicated. The admission price covers the Museo Borromeo chapel and a small museum with a handful of religious art and clothing purportedly from the saint. The high altar panel shows the ascension of St Charles Borromeo. In front of the church is a pond, adorned by a Henry Moore sculpture (Hill Arches; 1973) installed in 1978.
Must Try Food & Drink
Sachertorte; The original Sachertorte is the most famous Austrian cake. It is a classic, layered chocolate sponge cake that is thinly coated with high-quality apricot jam and topped with chocolate icing. Sachertorte is said to taste the best when accompanied by a small cloud of unsweetened whipped cream on the side. It was invented in 1832 by Franz Sacher, a pastry chef for Prince Clemens Lothar Wensel Metternich, the State Chancellor of Austria at the time. The prince wanted a new cake, and Sacher, 16 years old at the time, obliged him by creating something new from ingredients that were readily available in the kitchen. Suffice to say, the cake was a huge hit, and Franz's son Eduard opened a hotel called Sacher in 1876, serving the popular cake up to this day. Today, almost every coffee house in Vienna has its own version of the cake, but no two cakes are quite alike. In order to avoid confusion, it is recommended to look for the official Sacher chocolate seal on top of the cake, which can only be found on the Original Sacher, produced by Hotel Sacher in a quantity of approximately 360,000 cakes per year. Interestingly, from 1954 to 1963, Hotel Sacher went through a legal battle with their rival, Demel cafe, and the court proceedings focused on which one had the right to call its Sachertorte the original. The issues that were discussed included whether the cake should have an additional layer of apricot jam in the middle, and whether to use margarine or butter. Following a long seven-year dispute, the parties have reached an agreement—and the original Sacher torte is now only found at the Hotel Sacher. Nevertheless, Demel version, which does not have the additional layer of apricot jam in the middle, is almost equally popular.
Wiener Schnitzel; One of the best-known dishes of Austrian cuisine, the Wiener schnitzel is a thinned, breaded, and pan-fried veal cutlet that is traditionally served with a dollop of lingonberry jam, lemon wedges, and either buttered parsley potatoes, a simple potato salad, or french fries. The dish is protected under Austrian law, and—if it is to be called Wiener schnitzel—it must be made with veal. However, pork is often used instead of veal because it's more available and cheaper. Such a schnitzel is then referred to as Wiener schnitzel vom schwein (lit. Wiener schnitzel from pork) or schnitzel Wiener art (lit. Viennese style schnitzel). Also, these days, the schnitzel made with pork is what most people consider the real-deal Wiener schnitzel. Even Figlmüller, probably the most popular schnitzel spot in Vienna, offers a Wiener schnitzel made with pork, not with veal. Despite this dish being one of Austria's most popular offerings, it has been suggested that this Austrian national dish was actually invented elsewhere. According to one legend, in the 19th century, Austrian field marshal Josef Radetzky supposedly brought the schnitzel to Vienna upon returning home from Italy, where he had enjoyed the Milanese cotoletta, a dish that bears quite a strong resemblance to the Viennese classic. Regardless of its true origins, the crispy yet tender Wiener schnitzel remains a favorite in Austria and beyond.
Apfelstrudel; A traditional pastry dessert with a rich and vivid history, apfelstrudel (apple strudel) is one of Austria's most popular delicacies. This sweet treat consists of thin layers of dough filled with a flavorful apple filling. Its story starts with the invention of baklava, a filo pastry popular in the Balkans and the Middle East. Since baklava requires very thin dough, similar to strudel, the technique was likely perfected by either the Ottomans or the Greeks. It is believed that strudel arrived in Hungary first, then Austria, due to the fact that the Ottomans had constant interactions with the Habsburgs. The oldest known recipe for strudel dates back to 1696, while other varieties, such as the apple strudel recipe, date back to the 1800s. Some claim that the dish was invented in Vienna for the Emperor of Austria and the rest of high society. Depending on the recipe, the filling may additionally include raisins, cinnamon, rum, and nuts such as almonds or walnuts. It is recommended to serve the strudel warm, straight from the oven, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream, or vanilla sauce.
Vienna Lager; Vienna-style lager originated in 1841 when Anton Dreher experimented with the new British tradition of drying malt without the use of direct heat—creating pale malt which would later influence the rise of pale ale style. Dreher combined the practice with lager yeasts to create reddish-copper brew which he released under the name lager Vienna type. This style is typically creamy, crisp, and smooth with toasty and bready malt aromas. It is usually medium to light-bodied, while the finish is dry and typically has subtle hop bitterness. Following the First World War, the style became almost extinct in its place of origin. However, Vienna lagers are prominent in Mexico—where they were introduced by 19th-century brewers who emigrated from Austria. The style was also embraced by several American craft breweries. Vienna lagers share many similarities with the golden-amber Märzen style from Bavaria. The resemblance is not accidental since Dreher went to investigate British brewing practices together with Gabriel Sadlmayer, a Munich native, who later developed the Märzen style. Vienna lagers can match hearty and spicy dishes, including sausages, grilled and fried meat, or spicy chicken wings. They can also pair well with grilled vegetables and semi-hard or hard cheese varieties.
Krautfleckerl; Krautfleckerl is a traditional Austrian dish originating from Vienna. The dish is usually made with a combination of pasta, onions, cabbage, butter, garlic or bacon, parsley, sugar, salt, pepper, and caraway seeds. The onions and garlic are finely chopped and sautéed in a mixture of butter, sugar, and caraway. The cabbage is cut into squares, seasoned with salt, and added to the pot. The mixture is steamed for about half an hour before it's mixed with cooked pasta, more butter, chopped parsley, and black pepper. This Viennese specialty is typically served while still warm.
Kardinalschnitte; Kardinalschnitte is a layered meringue-based dessert, typically associated with the city of Vienna. Its name, translated as cardinal slice, alludes to the colors of the Catholic church - white and gold - which are the result of the soft meringue and the genoise sponge mixture. The interior is made with a thick cream that is usually flavored with coffee and topped with fresh berries or jam, while the interplaced walls are made with cornmeal batter. The texture of the cake is light and airy, with the slightest crunch on the outer layers. For the best experience, the cake should be dusted with powdered sugar and enjoyed with a glass of sweet wine.
Fiaker; Fiaker is a Viennese specialty coffee that consists of an espresso that is usually sweetened and then topped with whipped cream. The drink also includes a splash of liquor, preferably kirschwasser—fruit brandy distilled from cherries—which is occasionally replaced with rum of plum brandy. The name fiaker was given because the coachmen of traditional Viennese coaches (fiakers) are big fans of this warming, alcohol-laced beverage. The drink is occasionally garnished with preserved cherries, or it can be dusted with cocoa powder. It is usually served in a hot toddy glass.
Punschkrapfen; Hiding underneath the adorable pink fondant are cubes made from two rum-soaked biscuit sponges that have been layered with a combination of nougat and jam. Once assembled, they are typically drizzled with chocolate or topped with a cocktail cherry. Punschkrapfen or punch cakes have been enjoyed for centuries in Austria, and although the origins of the cake are still a subject of debate, some believe that they can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages. Today, these iconic Viennese cakes come in many shapes and sizes and are sold in pastry shops and bakeries throughout Austria.
Krapfen; Krapfen was probably the first European-style doughnut to appear, followed by similar varieties in other countries. These pastries are traditionally prepared with leavened dough that is deep-fried until golden and crispy on the outside, while they remain soft, light, and airy on the inside. Though krapfen can be prepared plain, they are most often filled or topped with jams, and vanilla or chocolate custards, while the top is usually dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with chocolate. The origin of the word krapfen dates back to 9th century, and the recipes in German can be found as early as the 14th century. The sweet versions of the pastry became predominant, and have remained closely associated with the Carnival, a festive period which precedes Christian Lent. Interestingly, during the Carnival, one krapfen in a batch filled with jam and fruit preserves might contain a filling of mustard as a prank. It is believed that doughnuts spread throughout many central European countries, which adopted the technique but used different regional names. Consequently, krapfen in Germany goes under Berliner, pfannkuchen, faschingskrapfen, krebbel, or kreppel. In Poland, they are known as pączki or krepel, Hungarians refer to them as fánk, Slovak as šišky, while the Czechs use the term koblihy. In Slovenia, they are better known as krofi, while the standard name throughout Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia is krofne or krafne. In St. Petersburg, Russia, the doughnuts are known as pyshki (either ring-shaped or without a hole), and there is a local café that has been serving pyshki prepared from the original recipe since the 1960s.
Tiroler Bergkäse; This Austrian hard cheese is made from raw cow's milk obtained exclusively from cows feeding on green fodder and hay. The milk must be free of any additives, which is what gives this Tyrolean cheese its distinctively intense natural flavor. Tiroler Bergkäse has a hard rind, while the paste is somewhat softer, ivory to light yellow in color and it has evenly distributed pea-sized eyes. The flavor of this Alpine delicacy ranges from mildly aromatic to slightly piquant. It's recommended to pair it with light dry white wines.
Glühwein; Glühwein is a type of mulled wine enjoyed in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It is a staple at Christmas markets and is often enjoyed as an après-ski drink. This German version is a classic, combining red wine, citrus zest, and spices such as anise, cinnamon, and cloves. It is usually sweetened to taste. The ingredients are mixed and heated and should never be boiled. Variations sometimes use white instead of red wine, and some versions come with a liquor shot (mit Schuss). First bottled versions of German mulled wine appeared in Augsburg in the 1950s, and often these pre-sweetened and pre-spiced versions are reheated and served at Glühwein stands. One of the most interesting variations of the drink is called Feuerzangenbowle. It is made with a rum-soaked sugarloaf that is suspended over mulled wine and set on fire. The sugar then melts and slowly drips into the wine.
Hope you enjoyed today's exploration of Vienna. I find Vienna to be very interesting and it is definitely on my bucket list.