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Few cities in the world glide so effortlessly between the present and the past like Vienna.
Its splendid historical face is easily recognised: grand imperial palaces and bombastic baroque interiors, museums flanking magnificent squares and, above all, the Hofburg – where the Habsburg rulers lived, loved and married into empires.
But this historical aspect often makes us forget that Vienna is also one of Europe’s most dynamic urban spaces.
Just a stone’s throw from Hofburg, the MuseumsQuartier houses some of the world’s most provocative contemporary art behind a striking basalt façade.
Outside, a courtyard buzzes on summer evenings with throngs of Viennese drinking and chatting. Nearby, restaurants brim with imbibers enjoying the pleasures of wine and food, while across the yard a museum café pulsates with beats.
It is a reminder that the city of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, Mahler and Schönberg is also the Vienna of Falco, who immortalised its urban textures in song.
It’s also a place where sushi and Austro-Asian fusion restaurants stand alongside the traditional Beisl. In this Vienna, it’s okay to mention poetry slam and Stephansdom in one breath.
Throw in the mass of green space within the confines of the city limits (almost half the city expanse is given over to parkland), the ‘blue’ Danube cutting a path just to the east of the historical centre and the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) creating much of Vienna’s western border and you also have a capital with a great outdoors.