10 AMAZING Facts About Austria
From Ludwig Van Beethoven to the world’s oldest zoo, Austria is filled with rich history, famous landmarks, beautiful terrain and has deep rooted cultural traditions. In this special edition from Top10Archive, we’re teaming up with our friends, TopTenz Top 10 Lists, to bring you the 10 most fascinating facts about Austria!
Vienna’s Central Cemetery
Zentralfriedhof, German for “Central Cemetery”, is located in Vienna, Austria, and is one of the largest cemeteries in the world by number of interred, and is arguable the most famous cemetery out of the 50 or so found in Vienna. Vienna’s population was at an all-time high during the 19th century, and the decision to create a new burial ground to fit the masses was fulfilled on All Saint’s Day in 1874. Many citizens were unhappy with its consecration, because this was one of the first cemeteries where all different faith groups’ members were laid to rest. The morning following its official opening, fifteen of the deceased were buried and this number grew to at least twenty five every single day. Famous Austrians such as Ludwig Van Beethoven and the composer Franz Schubert have graves among a reported 330,000 other tombs where over three million people have been buried
Due to the countries beautiful mountainous terrain, alpine skiing is a very popular sport in the region. Snowboarding and ski jumping are also common because of the Alps, which are adjacent to Switzerland. Franz Klammer is a former champion alpine ski racer who won a gold medal for Austria in the 1976 Winter Olympics. Not everyone is into the cold weather, and for that reason, the Austrian Football Association was founded, or, Soccer for those who are living in the United States. Austria has been one of the more successful football playing nations in Europe. They placed 4th in the 1934 FIFA World Cup, and 3rd twenty years later in the 1954 FIFA World Cup. Austria also ranks high on the IIHF, or, International Ice Hockey Federation, and is the home for Formula One 3-time F1 World Champion, Niki Lauda.
Competitions and Festivities
Sachertorte is another type of chocolate cake invented by Austrian, Franz Sacher. It was made especially for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in 1832. This desert is among one of the most famous of all Viennese specialties, and even has its own day. December 5th is National Sachertorte Day. A traditional Sachertorte is filled with apricot jam and eaten with whipped cream on top. Austria is one country that takes their food seriously, especially homemade meals, one of those dishes being their cakes. Larger towns in Austria have bake-offs and compete with others towns in the area to see who makes the best cake that year. Along with a good meal, they love to party the right way and celebrate. Each year, over 200 festivals are held in the small country. Germany and Austria have a lot in common; one such example of this is the two countries traditions to have Christmas markets in major towns, such as the Christkindlmarkt in Vienna.
Josef Madersperger was a tailor and one of the inventors of the sewing machine. He was born in Kufstein, Austria in 1768 but later moved to Vienna. In 1807, he began working on his version of the modern day sewing and embroidery machine. In the process, Madersperger exhausted all his savings and spare time. When completed in 1814, he presented the creation which acted as a human hand. It didn’t pan out as planned and he was left with several stiches to sew. After several unsuccessful attempts to improve upon it, Madersperger built a machine using the chain stich method in 1839; this invention imitated the weaving process and is often associated with rug making. Although it turned out much better than the sewing machine, he still did not have enough money to open up a factory. Josef Madersperger got his fame in 1841 after donating the prototype of the chain stitch to the k.k. polytechnical university, and was awarded the bronze medal for the lower Austria’s business society.
World’s Oldest Zoo
The Tiergarten Schönbrunn Zoo, or Vienna Zoo, located in Vienna, Austria, is indeed the world’s oldest zoo, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which opened in 1752. On exhibit is a look-a-like collection of Emperor Francis Stephen’s menagerie of wild animals. More than 700 species call Schönbrunn their home, some are even in danger of going extinct. The zoo is proud to say that they have animals from Anteaters to Zebras, and many animals in between such as jaguars, penguins and giant pandas. It has a collection of animals from nearly every corner of the earth including Siberian tigers from China and Russia, and even displays from the tropical rain forest. Schönbrunn Zoo is a prime location for education and research, along with species conservation projects which are conducted here. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Austria, this is certainly one place you can’t miss out on.
Nobel Peace Prize
As of early 2015, twenty one Austrians have been awarded the Nobel Prize. They have three Peace Prize winners and seven in Physiology and Medicine. It goes without a doubt that Austria is proud to say they have one of the highest number of Nobel Prize laureates, just behind Switzerland, Luxembourg, and a few Scandinavian countries. The Austrian author and well known radical pacifist, Bertha von Suttner, was the first women ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1905. She was also the second female Nobel laureate, coming after Marie Curie, who was awarded in 1903.
Austrian cuisine is composed of influences from throughout the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. One source says that regional influences have affected their cooking styles; this comes from Italy, Hungary, Bohemia, the Balkans, and Germany. Apfelstrudel is a traditional Viennese pastry that once belonged solely to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but can now be found in many European countries. The oldest known recipe for this snack dates back to 1696. Apple strudel consists of a curved pastry jacket with apple fillings inside. These fillings are made of grated cooking apples, which are well complimented with bread crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and even nowadays, maple syrup, but this is a much less uncommon variant. If you’re not much of the desert person, Wiener schnitzel may be just your thing. It is a very thin, deep fried piece of veal, and breaded. Wiener schnitzel is so well loved among Austrians that it was dubbed their national dish. Those who have not seen it before will often times get it confused with fried chicken because of the color and texture. Traditionally, the piece of meat would be beat with a kitchen utensil closely resembling a hammer, making it one of those more fun meals to prepare.
Ludwig Van Beethoven is one of the most famous German born Austrian composers, he was born in the later 18th century and became a well-known classical pianist. He is a prominent figure in the transition between Classical and Romantic era music. Beethoven’s many compositions include nine symphonies and thirty two piano sonatas. For the last twenty seven years of his life, which were spent in Vienna, Austria, Beethoven had become almost totally deaf. Despite this, he pushed on and continued to compose, one of his most well known and loved pieces is Moonlight Sonata. Another famous Austrian is Ferdinand Porsche, who was born on September 3rd, 1875 in Austria-Hungary. He is best known for creating the first gasoline-electric hybrids, the Lohner-Porsche. In addition to founding the great line of Porsche automobiles, which are still a prized possession today, he designed the 1923 Benz Tropfenwagen, which was the first racing car with a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive design. In 1996, he was rightly inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
In 1972, Austria began constructing a nuclear-powered electricity-generator in the municipality of Zwentendorf, by the River Danube. Six years later, parliament unanimously voted to forbid nuclear power from generating electricity. It was a close call, and the vote was split by no more than 1%. What came of this was their increasing use of hydropower as a form of electricity. More than half of the country’s energy now comes from the flow of water, which is a very large amount. Together with other forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, the electricity supply from sources other than fossil fuels has reached over 60%.
Austria’s Imperial Treasury is undoubtedly the best place to visit if you are looking for a taste of the country’s wealth. On display is the Austrian imperial crown and other effects that symbolize royalty from the Holy Roman Empire. You will also get a chance to see the adorned golden cradle in which Napoleon’s son lay after his birth, and even robes worn by members of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Some things housed here aren’t even believed to exist by most. Such wonders include religious objects such as the Holy Lance thought to have been pierced through Jesus’ side, and the, which some have said, was the Holy Grail, but is now known to come from Constantine’s court. Jewelry is another exhibit all to itself. The world’s largest emerald, along with much of Empress Elizabeth’s wardrobe, are also huge attractions native to the country.