World Travel GuidesHistoric Centre of Vienna, Austria

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The Historic Centre of Vienna is a World Heritage Site in Austria. It encompasses an area of 371 hectares surrounded by a buffer zone of 462 hectares. The area was designated with World Heritage status during the 25th session of the World Heritage Committee, which met in Helsinki, Finland, on 11-16 December, 2001.

The World Heritage Committee recognises the Historic Centre of Vienna for its outstanding architectural qualities, which exhibits the European cultural and political development in the Middle Ages, the Baroque period and the Gründerzeit. Also, it celebrates Vienna's role as the musical capital of Europe, a position acknowledged since the 16th century.

Within the core zone of the World Heritage Site are numerous medieval heritage buildings. These include the Schottenkloster, which is the oldest monastery in Austria, the churches of Maria am Gestade, Michealerkirche, Minoritenkirche, Minoritenkloster, and St Stephen's Cathedral.

What to See in the Historic Centre of Vienna

Let me show you all the major sights within the Old Town centre of Vienna. Use the map below to see location. Each sight is numbered, with more information provided below.

View Historic Centre of Vienna in a larger map

Here's a list of sights, tourist attractions and places of interest within the core zone of the Vienna World Heritage Site. The numbers refer to their location on the accompanying map.

Stephansdom, Vienna
Stephansdom, Vienna
Andrew Bossi (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5)

St Stephen's Cathedral
St Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom), located right at the heart of Vienna, is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. It is dedicated to St Stephen, the first Christian martyr. There has been a church here since 800 years ago, though the present building is in the late-Gothic style.

The Cathedral Museum (Diözesanmuseum) has a large collection of religious paintings and sculptures. Many of these were donated to the cathedral by Duke Rudolf IV. Among the must-see's at the museum include the portrait of the duke, and the Erlacher Madonna, a life-size sculpture of the Madonna and Child.

St Peter's Church
St Peter's Church (Peterskirche), is one of the oldest churches in Vienna. It is believed to have been founded in 792AD by Charlemagne. While that is based on a marble relief on the church's façade, there is evidence that the site has been a Roman basilica since the 12th century.

Peterskirche, Vienna
Alexander Mayrhofer (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Graben is a pedestrianised street. It is one of the most fashionable shopping areas in Vienna. You can find lots of restaurants and cafés here. Of interest are two identical fountains here, the St Joseph Fountain and the St Leopold Fountain.

Graben, Vienna
Gryffindor (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Mozartshaus Vienna
Mozart's Vienna residence at Domgasse 5 is where the famous composer lived with his family from 1784-1787. It was restored in 2006, and now exhibits Mozart memorabilia on the two upper floors as well as at Mozart's first floor apartment.

Church of the Teutonic Order of St. Elisabeth
The Church of the Teutonic Order of St Elisabeth (Deutschordenskirche St Elisabeth) at Singerstraße 7 is a Gothic church built by the knights of the Teutonic Order in the 15th century. The knights had arrived in Vienna in the 13th century, but only the tower of their original church survivies.

Franciscan Church
The Franciscan Church, or Franziskanerkirche, is sited where originally there was a house built by wealthy citizens of Vienna for the rehabiliation of prostitutes. The present building dates to 1601-11. It was designed by Bonaventura Daum in the South German Renaissance Style.

Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz is one of the loveliest squares in Vienna. Among the buildings around the square is the Rococo-style Austrian Academy of Sciences (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften) and the Jesuit Church (Jesuitenkirche), built in the High Baroque style.

Jesuitenkirche, Vienna
Jesuitenkirche, Vienna,_Wien2.jpg
Werckmeister (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5)

Dominican Church
The Dominican Church, or Dominikanerkirche, at Postgasse 4, was built between 1631 and 1674 for the Dominican monks who first came to Vienna in 1226, at the invitation of Duke Leopold VI. The church has a richly ornate interior.

Dominikanerkirche, Vienna
Welleschik (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Austrian Museum of Applied Arts
The Austrian Museum of Applied Arts (Österreichische Museum für Angewandte Kunst) at Stubenring 5 is the first museum of its kind in Europe. It was established in 1864, and houses the collection of Wiener Werkstätte, workshops that are famous for their design.

Urania is a round building with a distinctive dome built in 1910 following the designs by Max Fabian. It houses Vienna's oldest educational establishment that is not a school. It is also the home of a cinema, the Urania Kino, and a planetarium.

Schwedenplatz, or Swedish Square, is a landing place by the banks of the Danube Canal where one can go on pleasure cruises. In Laurenzberg in Schwedenplatz, you can see the remains of the old town wall with metal rings used to tie up the horses.

Schwedenplatz, Vienna
Schwedenplatz, Vienna

St Rupert's Church
St Rupert's Church (Ruprechtskirche) sits on an escarpment overlooking St Rupert's Square (Ruprechtsplatz). It is believed to be Vienna's oldest church, founded in 740 AD by the disciples of St Rupert, the bishop of Salzburg.

Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter was formerly a ghetto area where the Jews in Austria had their synagogue, hospital, school and bathhouses. Today it has become a place with discotheques and kosher restaurants.

Maria am Gestade
Maria am Gestade is one of the oldest churches in Vienna. The present building dates to the 13th century. It has beautiful stained glass panels at the main altar. Its steeple rises to a height of 50 meters.

Maria am Gestade interior, Vienna
Maria am Gestade interior, Vienna,_Vienna_5.jpg

Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall or Altes Rathaus originally belonged to the brothers Otto and Heymo Neuburg, who were involved in the rebellion against the Habsburg. Prince Friedrich the Fair confiscated their property and gave it to the town, where it served as the Town Hall until 1883.

Hoher Markt
Hoher Markt dates back to Roman times, making it the oldest square in Vienna. The foundation of Roman military structures were discovered here, and have since become a tourist attraction. Another sight here is the Anker Clock, designed in 1911 by Franz von Matsch.

Bohemian Court Chancellery
The Bohemian Court Chancellery (Böhmische Hofkanzlei) dates back to when Emperor Ferdinand II, who was also king of Bohemia, moved his administration to Vienna. The building was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Austrian emperors ruled Bohemia from here.

Schulhof is a small alley in Vienna. It links the Am Hof square with the Baroque residential neighbourhood of Kurrentgasse. The Clock Museum (Uhr-Museum), with all types of clocks going back to the 15th century, is the main sight here.

Am Hof
Am Hof square is the place where the medieval princes of Vienna had their residences. The name "am Hof" means "by the Court". Among the attractions here include the Chapel of the Nine Angel Choirs. There are also a number of interesting buildings around the square including the Collalto Palace, where six-year-old Mozart gave his first performance.

Freyung is a square whose name means "right of sanctuary". This is because fugitives are given sanctuary at the Schottenkirche (Scottish church), which it today located at No. 6. Other buildings at Freyung includes the Baroque Harrach Palace, the Kinsky Palace and the Porcia Palace.

Schottenkirche, Freyung, Vienna
Schottenkirche, Freyung, Vienna
Andreas Praefcke

Herrengasse was once the choice address for the nobility during medieval times. Today it is occupied mostly by government offices. Among the buildings here is the Landhaus, which houses the provincial government of Lower Austria.

Minoritenplatz is a square. Its most prominent sight is the Minoritenkirche, the church originally built for the Minor Friars in 1224. The present structure is a Franciscan church built in the 14th century.

The Michaelerplatz is a square facing Michaelertor, the main entrance to the imperial residence. On either sides of Michaelertor are wall fountains built in the 19th century. The St Michael's Church (Michaelerkirche) used to be the parish church of the imperial court.

Michaelerplatz, Vienna
Michaelerplatz, Vienna
Andrew Bossi (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5)

The Volksgarten (People's Garden) is a garden which was created after Napolen had the city walls demolished. The garden was laid out in the French style.

Volksgarten, Vienna
Danielsp (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Heldenplatz (Heroes' Square) is a courtyard created in the 19th century as an imperial forum. It was here that in 1938 Adolf Hitler announced Austria's incorporation into the German Reich.

Alte Burg
Alte Burg (Old Castle) is a vast Imperial Palace complex. It adjoins the Neue Burg (New Castle) which was only completed in 1913. There are seveal museums and royal apartments here.

Spanische Reitschule
The Spanische Reitschule (Spanish Riding School) is where horses are trained to perform. Shows are held at the Winterreitschule (Winter Riding School) designed by Joseph Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.

Josefsplatz is a square with the statue of Joseph II on horseback. Behind it is the National Library of Austria, designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Its Hall of Honour (Prunksaal) is said to be the most beautiful of the libraries in Europe.

Josefsplatz, Vienna
UrLunkwill (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Augustinerkircher is a 14th century Gothic Augustinian church. Inside the church is the tomb to Maria Theresa's favourite daughter, Marie-Christina.

Albertina used to be the Habsburg palace of the Duke Albert of Sachsens-Teschen and his wife Archduchess Marie-Christina, the favourite daughter of Maria Theresa. The Historic State Room, in the Neoclassical style, is regarded as one of the best examples of Classical architecture.

The Kapuzinerkirche is on the southwestern corner of the New Market (Neuer Markt). It contains the imperial crypt (Kaisergruft), which is where Habsburg family members are laid to rest.

Stadtpalais des Prinzen Eugen
The Stadtpalais des Prinzen Eugen is a palace built by Prince Eugene of Savoy in 1694. The architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach designed it. It houses the Ministry of Finance. Although not open to the public, visitors can look at its beautiful staircase and courtyard with Rococo fountain.

Kärntner Straße
Kärntner Straße was once a main road in Vienna, and today a pedestrianized street with exclusive boutiques. It has several interesting sights of interest including the Church of the Knights of Malta (Malteserkirche)

Kärtnerstraße at night, Vienna
Kärtnerstraße at night, Vienna
Michael Schmid (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5)

New Town Hall
The New Town Hall, or Neues Rathaus, is one of the landmarks of Vienna. It was built between 1872-1883 by Friedrich Schmidt in the Neo-Gothic style. Its central tower is 98 meters (321 feet) tall.

Neues Rathaus, Vienna
Neues Rathaus
Gryffindor (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Parlament is the parliament house of Austria. The building was completed in 1883 by Dutch architect Theophil Hansen in the Neo-Classical style.

Parlament, Vienna
Statue of Athena in front of Parlament, Vienna

Burgtheater, one of the most prestigious theaters in the German-speaking world, was built in 1888 to replace the original structure. It was designed by Karl von Hasenauer and Gottfried Semper in the Italian Renaissance style. Although severely damaged during World War II, it was so well restored that the damage is hardly noticeable today.

Burgtheater, Vienna
Peters Gerstbach (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Vienna University
The Vienna University (Universität Wien), founded in 1365 by Rudolf IV, is the oldest university in the German-speaking world. The university building was built in 1883. It was designed by Heinrich Festel in the Italian Renaissance style.

Votivkirche is a church built in the Neo-Gothic style. It was built in 1853 with its two 99-meter (325 ft) steeples added in 26 years later. The church stands on the spot where a deranged man tried to kill Emperor Franz Joseph I.

Freud-Museum, at Berggasse 19, used to be the home of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, from 1891-1993. You can view the room where Freud received patients, the archaeological stuff he collected, among other things.

Josephinum, or the Museum of the Anatomy Institute of the University of Vienna, houses life-sized anatomical models commissioned by Emperor Joseph II to teach human anatomy to surgeons.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N 48 13 0 E 16 23 0
Inscription Year: 2001
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: II, IV, VI


Vienna is located on the west side of Austria. In fact, it is closer to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, than to other major Austrian cities such as Graz and Salzburg.

Visiting Historic Centre of Vienna

Your base for visiting this World Heritage Site is Vienna. You can get your hotel there to help you make the arrangement, or select the appropriate tour package or day excursion. Get a full list of hotels in Vienna here.

Getting there

By plane

Vienna International Airport (VIE) is located 18 km from the city centre. It is the home of the national flag carrier, Austrian, as well as the low-cost carrier Fly Niki. Taxi from airport to the city will cost you around €40, inclusive of surcharges and tip. You can also take the City Airport Train (CAT) to the Wien-Mitte Terminus, a journey of 16 minutes at a fare of €10 one way. For an even more budget option, take the S-Bahn. It only costs €3.40 one way.

By Train

Vienna is just about 2 hours from Bratislava, 3 hours from Budapest and 4 1/2 hours from Prague by train. You can also take the train from most major European cities to Vienna.

By Car

You need the Highway Toll Sticker (Vignette) or a GO-Box to drive in Vienna. The price for cars of less than 3.5 tons is €7.70 for 10 days, €22.20 for 2 months, and €73.80 for one year. Most of the Austrian expressways (Autobahn) radiates out of Vienna.

Book Hotel Rooms in Austria and Worldwide

Click here also for a full list of hotels in Austria or hotels worldwide. If you prefer budget accommodation in hostels, guesthouses or inns, check out hostels worldwide for budget accommodation providers with online booking.

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