My name is Stefan, I am tourist guide and I love Vienna!
Well, this comment probably does not seem very surprising on a Viennese tourism blog. It is yet nothing but certain to come from my side. Unlike my colleague, who wrote the previous blog post, I did not grow up in Vienna. I spent my childhood and teenage years in a small village in the very South of Austria where Vienna – or better: Viennese people – do not always enjoy the best reputation. This, however, is not because of Vienna, but rather due to a natural Austrian rivalry between the capital and the rest of the country.
In the logic of this rivalry, Viennese people tend to consider their countrymen from “the provinces” as conservative, narrow-minded and somewhat backwards-looking. On the other hand, rural Austria’s picture of Vienna’s inhabitants is best described as stressed-out, arrogant and, as is very neatly demonstrated in another blog post, grumpy.
Even if some of these prejudices turn out to have a true core, to me they are no reason not to fall in love with this city. On the contrary, they have become kind of characteristics which make Vienna as unique and, yes, as charming as it is. What’s more, all these prejudices from rural Austria are by far eclipsed by one feature that must make this 2-million city attractive to everyone from the countryside: Vienna’s nature.
Vienna is one of the greenest capitals in the world. In fact, about 50 percent of all Viennese territory is covered in green: parks, fields, rivers, forests, vineyards, etc.
Let’s take the famous Viennese Prater as an example. Initially a hunting resort for the imperial family it is today a public green area, located close to the city centre. Many Viennese spend their free time here, jogging, cycling, playing football or turning their stomachs upside down with the hazardous rollercoasters of the oldest amusement park in the world, the “Wurstelprater” with its iconic Giant Wheel.
If you believe that Prater is a huge green space amidst a metropolis, you probably have never been to Danube island. Constructed in order to prevent flooding of the river Danube, this 20-kilometer island is the place where Viennese people love to relax and party at the same time. Every year in June, the green island turns into a concert venue when the biggest open-air music festival in the world brings together some 3 million people.
There are many more green areas like these in Vienna, but none of them reminds me as much on my rural home region as Kahlenberg. This hill on the northern outskirts of Vienna brings together nature and culture in a most unique way. Here you can enjoy the undoubtedly most beautiful view on the entire city and – you can enjoy Viennese wine. Kahlenberg is home to a huge number of vineyards, making Vienna the only European capital with a significant viticulture. And it is home to the famous tradition of “Heurigen”. In these little taverns traditional Austrian dishes are accompanied by typical Viennese folk music and, of course, quality homemade wine. No more reasons needed to qualify Kahlenberg hill my personal favorite place in Vienna!
As can be seen from these few examples already, Vienna is a city of culture AND nature. It is the fascinating heritage of an old empire, the breath-taking architecture of its palaces and the huge diversity of its museums that make this city so famous in the whole world. Yet, it is not least its numerous natural resorts, its fresh air and its clean water that make it so liveable for locals and visitors – and that allow even an “immigrant” from rural Austria like me to feel very much at home here. 😊