Vienna history



Settlements along the Danube near what is now the City of Vienna can be traced back to the 5th century B.C. These were of Celtic origin - as is the name Wien, derived from the Celtic "Vedunia" meaning "river in the woods". The Romans established the garrison camp Vindobona in the 1st century AD. Remainders of the Roman camp can be seen at Hoher Markt and at the underground station Stephansplatz. Vienna began its rise in importance in the Middle Ages when it was made the residence of the Babenbergs and the city walls were raised in 1200. Vienna would become the capital of the Habsburg Empire and remain so for almost seven centuries. Today its imperial past is still visible in monumental structures such as the Imperial Palace (Hofburg), the Schönbrunn Palace, the buildings along Ringstraße, and many other sites throughout the city.

The fall of the monarchy proved a turning point in Vienna's history. In 1922, the city was made a province in its own right. The Social Democrats then in power pursued comprehensive social policies. By 1933 more than 60,000 new and affordable apartments had been built. The achievements of the "rotes Wien" (Red Vienna) in the social field found international recognition.

In 1938 Austria was "annexed" to Hitler Germany and ceased to exist as a state. Most of Vienna's Jewish population was driven away or exterminated. After the end of the Second World War and many years of Allied occupation, Austria regained its independence with the state treaty signed in 1955. Unperturbed by the nearby existing Iron Curtain, Vienna continued to build on its international role during the Cold War years. It became a UN seat and was chosen as headquarters for the OSCE.