Austrian Facts

More than 30,000 years ago the "Venus from Willendorf" was made, a 10cm big
cult statuette (found in the Wachau region). The number of Roman art monuments
is countless, especially near the border fortifications and in Carnuntum.
The Romanesque period developed during the 12th century, typical examples are
the abbeys Klosterneuburg, Heiligenkreuz and Zwettl which are preserved
only in part because they show many Gothic and Baroque elements.
Book illumination and painting on glass became very famous (handwritings at
Heiligenkreuz Abbey). Master Nikolaus von Verdun created a fantastic enamel
altar at Klosterneuburg Abbey.
Only in 1250 Gothic elements started to influence art. Late Gothic buildings
are represented by the churches of Eggenburg, Krems, Göttweig and Wiener Neustadt.
During the 16th century Rennaissance characteristics came over from Italy and
the first noblemen´s residences were built, such as the Schallaburg castle near
Melk with its fantastic arcades, but also middle class buildings with sgraffito
fassades and archways (Krems, Horn, Retz, Weitra, Gmünd, Eggenburg).
The Baroque period gave rise to splendid castles, planned by the architects
Jakob Prandtauer, Joseph Munggenast, Lukas von Hildebrand (Atzenbrugg, Eckartsau, Niederweiden, Schloßhof, Riegersburg castles), unique abbeys (Melk, Göttweig, Klosterneuburg, Seitenstetten) and imposing churches which were decorated with Baroque elements. The most famous painter of this period was Martin Johann Schmidt.
One of the best known architects of the Biedermeier period, Josef Kornhäusel,
created the City Ensemble in Baden near Vienna.
Typical examples of Historicism are the Franzensburg Castle in Laxenburg and
the Grafenegg Castle.
A very early testimony of technical progress during the 19th century is the
Semmeringbahn mountain railway, built by Karl Ritter von Ghega (1848-54).


In the North of the Alps, in the region of the Danube, the middle-European
climate changes into the more continental climate of the Eastern Alpine
foothills. The daily and yearly differences of temperature increase, whereas the
precipitation decreases. In Zwettl, surrounded by the Waldviertel region, there
is a precipitation of 664 mm per year. The lowest precipitation of Austria
(521 mm per year in Krems) is measured in the protected area of the Wachau.
This type of climate is als characteristic of the Weinviertel region. The
climate in the Waldviertel region is not as bad as claimed. Due to the
altitude of this region, it has a healthy bracing climate. Its cold temperatures
are evened out by the extremely long sunshine.
The high precipitations of the Northern edge of the Alps (barrier effect of the
Alps) don´t have any influence on the East of Austria. In the region of Vienna
there is only half the precipitation of Salzburg. Especially the heavy rainfalls
in summer don´t take place here.


The competitive agriculture is very important not only in the Alpine foothills
(Mostviertel, Tullnerfeld, Weinviertel regions) and in the Viennese basin, but
especially in the Marchfeld region which due to the Pannonian climate is
called the "granary of Austria" (cultivation of sugar beet, fruits and
vegetables). The viniculture is of utmost importance, too. Large areas of
cultivable land are the Wachau region (around Krems), the zone in the South of
Vienna and of course the Weinviertel region.
Because of the construction of various derricks for the extraction of mineral
oil and natural gas in the Marchfeld region and in the Eastern part of the
Weinviertel region, the landscape has changed very much since 1930. But
today the profitability has decreased. Austria meets its need of natural gas
by imports that are then used in the refinery Schwechat.
Due to the convenient position near the large market of Vienna, a varied
industry could develop in the Southern part of the Viennese basin. The largest
industrial area in Austria starts at Mödling and runs along the Southern railway
track via Baden-Traiskirchen, Wiener Neustadt and Ternitz to Gloggnitz. Many
branchs of industry have entered a state of crisis in the last few years. They
had to be restructered and were forced to dismiss working force.
Since the 19th century tourism has become more and more important. The Wachau
region, the Wienerwald forest, the mountains Semmering, Schneeberg and Rax are
popular holiday areas.


In Austria there are more than 80 species of fishes. In the Danube river there
live 60 different species. Whereas the Alpine regions are the habitat of
trouts, sea saiblings, umbers and tenchs, in the Danube river perchs, catfishes
and eels are found. A large part of the carps lives in the ponds in the
Waldviertel region. The ponds are inhabited by salamanders and aquatic frogs.
They belong to the class of the amphibians which is legally protected in
When walking through the forest after a rainfall, it could be possible to see
the yellow-black fire salamander. The European tree-frog lives in the trees of
the Alpine foothills.
In the meadows of the Danube (national park March-Donauauen) one can observe
the European mud turtle threatened by extinction. On warm rocks and walls
lizards can be found.
Bats and insectivores like hedgehogs, moles and shrewmouses are legally
protected. The forest is the habitat of dormouses, edibles and squirrels and
the sunny soils of the Pannonische region are inhabited by hamsters and susliks.
Also many predators like foxes, badgers and martens live here. The animals that
are hunted the most are hares and rabbits. The wild big which once was found
only in the Leitha mountains, lives now also in the forests Ernstbrunner and
Ellender and in parts of the Wienerwald forest.
Mufflons and fallow deers still exist in closed territories (Lainzer zoo,
Sparbach). Herds of deers inhabit meadows and forests and in mountain forests
red deers are found.
The characteristic artiodactyla of the Alps, the chamois has had a higher rate of reproduction in the last few years.


Due to its different land forms, Niederösterreich offers a varied flora.
In the Waldviertel region forests with spruces, beech trees and fir-trees
dominate, but there birches and Scots pines grow there. The Weinviertel region
offers forests with oaks and hornbeams and in the Wienerwald forest oaks and
beech trees are found. This forest changes into a woody steppe on the sandy
and rocky soils of the Marchfeld region and in the Hundsheimer mountains near
The rivers Danube, March and Leitha are surrounded by lush forests with willows,
poplars, ash-trees, elms and alders. In the undergrowth dominate elder and
The originally mixed forest with beech trees, fir-trees, Scotch elms, yews and
maples is nowadays replaced by forested spruche woods in the Western part of the
Wienerwald forest, in the Alpine foothills and in the chalky Alps of Lower
In higher Alpine regions also the larch grows. At the upper edge of the forest
at an altitude of approx. 1700 m spruces and larches are found. The mountain
pine is characteristic of the chalky plateaus (Rax, Schneeberg).
In the Middle Age large territories were cleared because of more extensive
cattle breeding. Today these areas are meadows where numerous flowers are
growing; for example the narcissus meadows in the region around Lunz are
something very special.
In the Waldviertel region there are some moors which are surrounded by dwarf
artic birchs, cotton grass, heather and sledge.
The Alpine flora is very colourful and varied. In spring the Alpine pastures
have a marvellous appearance with all the colourful flowers as solanellas,
primosas, alpine gentians and so on.


The largest out of nine Austrian lands has 1,5 million inhabitants, covers a territory of 19,173 km² and surrounds the federal Austrian capital Vienna.

It´s divided into cities with their own statute (Krems, St.Pölten, Waidhofen/Ybbs, Wiener Neustadt), 21 administration districts and 571 villages.

Province capital: St. Pölten.

It borders on the Czech Republic in the North, on Slovakia in the East, on the Burgenland in the Southeast, on Styria in the South and on Upper Austria in the West.

The river Danube splits the land into two equal parts. In the North you find the hilly Waldviertel region and the Weinviertel region in the East.

The Waldviertel is named after its richness in natural forests.

The Manhartsberg divides the country into Weinviertel and Waldviertel. Wine growing is popular in the wide valleys and on loess grounds.

Also the Wachau region - located in the picturesque Danube valley between Melk and Krems - is well known for its excellent wines.

East of Vienna, between the rivers Danube and March, there is the Marchfeld region, the biggest plaine in Austria with grain and sugar beet growing (known as the "Austrian corn chamber").

South of the river Danube you find the Mostviertel region that reaches up to the Alpine foothills, towards the Erlauf/Pielach/Traisental valleys. In the East the Wienerwald forest is located, a typical greenbelt recreation area for the Viennese.

The very South of Lower Austria is marked by the alps with the Ötscher, Rax and Schneealpe mountains.


The varied forms of landscape have their origin in the composition of the soil and its geological history.

The Waldviertel belongs to the flattened mountains of the Bohemian Massif, the big crystalline area in the heart of Europe. There one finds crystalline and metamorphic rocks like granite, gneiss, slate etc.

In the south, the Danube embedded itself in the crystalline soil and divided the Dunkelsteiner Forest from the rest of the Bohemian Massif. Following this valley of beautiful scenery, the unique Wachau valley, the Danube enters the flat foothills of the alpine upland.

On its further course, the Danube cuts through the easternmost foothills of the Alps (the Vienna woods) at Greifenstein-Klosterneuburg and crosses the Vienna Basin, which was formed in the Tertiary and is filled with sediments.

The Vienna Basin contains Austria´s biggest oil and gas-fields. At its fracture zones ("thermal line") there are hot springs (Baden, Bad Vöslau). In the west the Vienna Basin borders the Vienna woods and the limestone Alps.
In the south the basin borders the crystalline regions Semmering, Bucklige Welt, Rosalien- and Leitha mountains.

During the ice ages Lower Austria was mostly ice-free. Sediments from the detritus of the moraines, which were formed in front of the glaciers, were blown away by the wind. This fine sand covers today wide areas of the Weinviertel and forms the fertile soil for wine growing.


The Illyrians and the Celts were followed by the Romans, who advanced until the Danube. To protect this natural border, the Romans built Carnuntum. Their rule came to an end with the age of tribal migrations.

Settlement by the Bavarians in the 6th century had been interrupted by the Avars and the Slavs. It was not until the victories of Charlemagne that the rule over the land was consolidated by the creation of the "Ostmark" (Eastern Province).

In 955, Otto the Great defeated the Magyars (Hungary) in the battle of Augsburg. In 976, his son Otto II confered the Ostmark on Leopold von Babenberg. After the last Babenberg ruler had died childless in 1246, the Holy Roman Empire´s newly elected king Rudolf of Habsburg won the Babenberg lands in 1278.

At the end of the 15th century, the Hungarians under Matthias Corvinus conquered almost all of Lower Austria until Emperor Maximilian restored the rule of the Habsburgs.

The Turks, who reached the gates of Vienna in 1529 and 1683, devastated the land two times.

The 18th century brought a time of economic and cultural ascendency, which lasted until the years 1805 and 1809, when the French Wars also affected Lower Austria.

After the collapse of the Danube monarchy in 1918, Lower Austria was declared a proper province of the Republic of Austria. In 1986, St. Pölten was elected the province capital of Lower Austria.


Lower Austria almost became deserted due to centuries of fights against Eastern
riding tribes (the Magyars were last) and was populated permanently by German
colonists (mainly Bavarian) only during the 10th century. In the inner Alpine
region there´s no population continuity, while the Alpine foothills were settled
since the Roman period (Cetium = St.Pölten). Most cities had been founded later
by the sovereigns, partly with the function of a fortress, as traffic
junctions or mining centers. They are market towns and situated at the foothill
of a castle, along a river.


Visitor Information

The Austrian accommodation businesses are split into official categories - the range goes from the luxury hotel to the most simple inn.

Rooms are available in all categories, from the 5-star hotel to the cosy country inn, but also private accommodation at farms or private houses.

*****luxury hotels
****first-class hotels
***decent hotels, pensions, inns
**average hotels, pensions, inns
*simple hotels, pensions, inns


Airport Wien-Schwechat
19 km east from Vienna, in the heart of Lower Austria

60 regular flying companies offer more than 1.500 weekly departures to 130 destinations all around the world.

The airport is connected to public transport. Moreover, rental car agencies offer their services.


As an Austrian citizen you need a certificate issued by the police, stating
that the holder has no criminal record, an examination from an aviation doctor
and a trainee pilot card (from the Federal Office of civil aviation, Vienna)
Minimum age: for gliding 16 years, for hang-gliding and para-gliding 16 years,
for motor planes 17 years, ballooning 17 years and parachuting 17 years.
Valid pilot´s licenses from German and Swiss guests are accepted, from guests
from other countries for sports and touristical aims are accepted only for a
limited time.


Opening hours in general Monday - Friday from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. (closed for lunch), Saturday 8.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.

VAT refunding:
Refunding of VAT from a shop starting at € 75,- only for tourists with their residence outside of the EU. Ask for a TAX FREE form at the respective shop. The refunding takes place after you have left the EU zone.


Since January 1, 2002, the Euro is the official currency of Austria!

The exchange of shillings and coins is, however, possible at the Austrian National Bank and its branch offices.

Cash dispensers ("Bankomat")


Austria is a member of the European Union and represents with the other EU-member states a common economic area, the EU-internal market.

Within the European Union the exchange of goods for personal aims is duty-free, but there is an upper limit, e.g. for voyagers older than 17 years 800 cigarettes, 10 litres spirits and 90 litres wine.

The maximum amount of the exchange of goods with Non-EU-member-countries is valid for goods that have been bought in Duty-Free-Shops.

Travellers (older than 17 years) from Non-EU-countries can import duty-free to Austria: 200 cigaretts or 50 cigars or 250 g tobacco, 2 litres of wine or other alcoholic drinks up to 22 Vol. % and 1 litre of spirits.

Citizens of Non-Eu-countries can enlist for tax-refund from a receipt starting at € 75,00.

Fill in the TAX-FREE form at the shop (shop stamp), and as soon as you have left the EU zone, please go to the duty authority of the respective country you are leaving from and get the duty stamp.

The filled in form should be sent to:
Global Refund Austria AG
A-1030 Wien, Trubelgasse 17-19
Telefon +43 1 / 798 44 000
Fax +43 1 / 798 40 44


For the entry and for a stay of not more than 3 months a passport or a valid identity card
are sufficent. Children up to 16 years just need a entry in the passport of the parents.


In Austria lead-free regular petrol (octane number 91), Euro-Super (lead-free,
octane number 95), Super Plus (octane number 98, lead-free petrol with lead
substitute for older vehicles), diesel and liquid gas are available.


When entering Austria, dogs and cats need a veterinarian health certificate with current
rabies vaccination certificate. At the entry the vaccination certificate has to have
at least 30 days and not more than 1 year.


Medical care, pharmacies

Medical treatment is guaranteed at all the practitioners and hospitals.

Practitioners are to be found in all communities, hospitals with ambulances in the larger cities.

Pharmacies are to be found in all larger communities.
Evening, weekend and bank holiday service: each pharmacy displays a hint to the next pharmacy open in the closer surroundings.


* Parking: in some cities, there are short-term parking areas subject to charge ("blue zones"), park tickets are available from tobacconit's, banks or machines.

* Duty to carry a valid vignette on the highways of Austria.

* Duty to have your seat belt fastened. Duty to wear a helmet for motorcyclists.

* Maximum alcohol when driving: 0,5 promille

* Speed limits for private cars and motorcyclists:
Highway: 130 km/h, country roads 100 km/h, villages & towns 50 km/h

The alpine roads are partly difficult to drive at and require a good experience in driving. Pass streets are often closed in winter.

Open all year round: Brenner pass, Fern pass, Reschen pass, Arlberg pass.


1st January: New Year´s Day
6th January: Feast of the Three Kings
March/April: Easter Monday
1st May: National Holiday
May/June: Ascension of Christ, Whit monday, Feast of the Corpus Christi
15th August: Assumption of the Virgin Mary
26th October: National Holiday
1th November: All Saints´ Day
8th December: Immaculate Conception
25th December: Christ Day
26th December: Stephen´s Day
School holidays: Christmas (2 weeks), February (1 week vacation), 19th March
(Josefitag-regional holiday), Eastern (1 week), July/August/beginning of September
(8 weeks summer holidays), 2nd November (All Souls´ Day)


Many international railways connect Lower Austria directly with other European cities.

Fast and comfortable EuroCity and InterCity trains offer ideal and cheap connections. International trains stop in St. Valentin, Amstetten, St. Pölten, Vienna, Wiener Neustadt, Bruck/Leitha and Hohenau.

Regional connection trains and bus line network in the whole country. Information about timetables can be obtained directly at the station or in your travel agent's office.


Emergency telephone:
Fire brigade 122, police 133, red cross 144

Breakdown service:
ÖAMTC 120, ARBÖ 123 (car clubs)


Opening hours of the post offices in general from Monday to Friday from 8.00 - 12.00 a.m. and 2.00 - 5.00 (6.00) p.m.

Country codes from Austria to
Germany 0049
Italy 0039
Switzerland 0041
France 0033
Great Britain 0044

Country code of Austria 0043

Emergency telephones:
Fire brigade 122, police 133, red cross 144


Duty to carry a vignette on all Austrian highways

Holiday travellers are recommended to buy a 10-day or a 2-months vignette.

Further information:
ÖSAG telephone: 0662 62 05 11 - 0, www.vignette.at