Vienna, A Cultural Gem, Named World’s Most Liveable City

The Spanische Hofreitschule or Spanish Court Riding School

By Jonathan Spira on 14 August 2018
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Vienna, once the capital of an empire of which it was said that the sun never set over it, is now the world’s most liveable city, according to the latest liveability index from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

As someone who spent a portion of his childhood in Vienna, I would most heartily agree.

The imperial city finally placed first, having taken second place after Melbourne every year since 2011 and it’s the first time a European capital has topped the rankings.

A walk around Vienna’s inner city, the Innere Stadt, conjures up numerous ghosts, all of them friendly and musical. One can feel the presence of practically every major composer as so many had a strong association with the city, be it Beethoven (a German who made Vienna his home), Haydn (born in nearby Lower Austria), Mahler (born in Bohemia, then a part of the Austrian Empire), Mozart (born in Salzburg), or Schubert (the only one actually born in Vienna).

Johann-Strauß-Denkmal or Memorial in the Stadtpark

Johann-Strauß-Denkmal or Memorial in the Stadtpark

The city was truly a center of culture and modernism until the Anschluß, the annexation of Austria by Hitler’s Germany, in 1938, as well as a magnet for artistic talent. Witness Brahms (born in Hamburg), Bruckner (born near Linz), and Richard Strauss (from Munich), and add in the Vienna Secession movement, psychoanalysis, the Second Viennese School, and the philosophy of Wittgenstein for good measure.

Today, the city is resplendent with its beautiful 19th-century apartment buildings, coffee houses where the waiter (“Herr Ober”) will refill your water glass with the city’s renowned tap water (that in turn comes from the Rax mountain range, as my father would boast), an efficient public transit system that has maintained its charm, world-renowned vineyards that are within the capital city’s limits, and a cultural scene where Beethoven and Mozart easily mingle with the contemporary.

The local scene may be found in many of the Kaffeehäuser or coffee houses, its bistros, its parks, as well as numerous clubs and parties that take place throughout the week. The culinary scene represents the gamut of foods from the former Austrian monarchy, whether it be a traditional Kaffeehaus like Café Prückel, my Stammcafé or usual café; Zum Schwarzen Kameel, where Beethoven was a regular; or one of the city’s many Heuriger, a tavern of the new wine.

In the event you aren’t quite ready to don Wiener Tracht and attend one of the city’s 450 balls, the other cities on the list were Osaka, Calgary, Sydney, Vancouver, Toronto, Tokyo, Copenhagen, and Adelaide.  At the very bottom, in case you are curious, were Dakar, Algiers, Douala, Tripoli, Harare, Port Moresby, Karachi, Lagos, Dhaka, and Damascus.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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