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The History of Vienna

schoenbrunnFounded around 500 BC, Vienna was originally a Celtic settlement. In 15 BC, Vienna became a Roman frontier city ("Vindobona") guarding the Roman Empire against Germanic tribes to the north.

During the Middle Ages, Vienna was home of the Babenberg Dynasty and in 1440 became residence city of the Habsburg dynasties from where Vienna eventually grew to become the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and a cultural centre for arts and science, music, and fine cuisine. The Ottoman conquerers of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries were stopped twice just outside Vienna.

In 1805, Vienna became capital of the Austrian Empire and continued to play a major role in European and World politics, including hosting the 1815 Congress of Vienna. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 Vienna remained the capital of what was now the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the latter half of the 19th Century the city developed what had previously been the bastions and glacis into the Ringstraße, a major prestige project.

In 1918, after World War I, Vienna became capital of the First Austrian Republic. In 1938, after a triumphant entry into Austria, Adolf Hitler famously spoke to the Austrian people from the balcony of the Neue Burg, a part of the Hofburg at the Heldenplatz. Between 1938 (Anschluß) and the end of the Second World War, Vienna lost its status as a capital to Berlin.

After 1945, Vienna again became the capital of Austria. It was initially divided into four zones by the Four Powers and was governed by the Allied Commission for Austria. During the 10 years of foreign occupation Vienna became a hot-bed for international espionage between the Western and Eastern blocs.

In the 1970s Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky inaugurated the creation of the Vienna International Centre, a new area of the city created to host international institutions. Vienna has regained a part of its former international relevance by hosting such international organizations as the United Nations (UNIDO, UNOV, and UNODC), the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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