The Alternative Guide to… Austria
Austria at a Glance
Capital city: Vienna (also the name of the 1980 Ultravox hit)
Population: 8.6 million
Local currency: euro (£1 = 1.31€)
Famous face: Arnold Schwarzenegger (movie star, politician, Terminator)
5 things you never knew about Austria
At the end of World War II, Austria swore itself to a position of permanent neutrality. So although it is part of the European Union, it is not a member of NATO.
Contrary to popular belief, Beethoven was not Austrian. He was actually German. But he did live a significant portion of life in Austria. Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Strauss were all Austrian though.
62% of the country is covered by the Austrian Alps.
Austria is consistently ranked as having one of the highest standards of living in the world. Vienna has topped the World's Most Liveable Cities list seven years running.
St Peter Stiftskeller in Salzburg is reputedly the oldest operating inn/restaurant in Europe. It opened in 803 AD. The menu is mouth-watering – just be sure to make a reservation.
The mighty wiener schnitzel (main pic at top of page). It is traditionally made of a thinly hammered veal cutlet, and you’ll see it on the menu at most Austrian restaurants.
If you see one thing in Austria, make sure it's…
... the former micronation of Kugelmugel. When artist Edwin Lipburger got into a dispute with authorities over building permits for his spherical house, he declared independence from Austria. He named his new country the Republic of Kugelmugel. Authorities moved his house to Vienna's Prater Park when Edwin refused to pay taxes to Austria - only a presidential pardon saved him from jail. It may now be surrounded with barbed wire, but the fascinating spaceship-like house is well worth seeing.