Austrian Facts

The most important discovery of the Hallstatt period and culture is the
Kultwagen (carriage) of Strettweg near Judenburg.
Art treasures that go back to the Roman period, such as sculptures, consecrated
stones, utensils or jewels, were found in Flavia Solva - the only Roman city
in Styria (relief paintings in the Seggau castle). Roman stones are often walled
up inside churches or castles.
The first common development of arts began during the Romanesque period in the
12th century. A typical example is the column Basilica of Seckau Abbey.
Romanesque painting art is represented by the fresco paintings inside St. John´s
Chapel in Pürgg.
The so called "Zackenstil" (point style) is a typical feature for transmission
to the Gothic period during the second half of the 13th century (the sandstone
madonna inside the Leech church in Graz). Late Gothic art treasures are
the Dome in Graz, the pilgrimage church of Maria Straßengel, the Kornmesser
building in Bruck/Mur and several winged altars (parish churches of Gröbming,
St. Lambrecht, Oppenberg).
During the Renaissance period the defensive line against the Turks was reinforced (Riegersburg). Very interesting seem the arcades in the main building of the city administration in Graz.
The Mausoleum in Graz (by Pietro de Pomis)is a good mannerism example for the
transmission period from the Renaissance to the Baroque style.
Leading Baroque style architects in the 17th century are the following:
P.F. Carlone, Domenico Sciassia and Pietro de Pomis.
Classicist architecture of the 19th century is represented by the Rathaus
building in Graz and the Opera House in new Baroque style.
The parish church of Bärnbach is an example for modern art in the 20th century,
its fassades were created by the Friedensreich Hundertwasser with his
unique style.


Due to its natural phenomena, Styria is a land of climatic contrasts. The
Central Alpine mountain chain is a weather divide: the rough Alpine climate
faces the moderate Mediterranean climate in the southern parts of Styria.
Generally, the Alpine climate is characterized by high precipitations and short,
fresh summers. Only in the inner Alpine valleys, which are protected by high
mountain chains, there is less precipitation.
In autumn and winter the mountain and peak areas enjoy much more sun and clear
air (excellent visibility) than the valleys and basins where the fog often
stucks for several days. Some basins and closed valleys (Ennstal and Murtal
valleys) present another phenomenon, the so called "inversion of temperature":
in the mountains the temperatures are higher than in the valley (normally the
temperature falls 1°C per 200 m altitude). In the basins the cold air
accumulates because it is too heavy to rise, and it still becomes colder. Above
the cold mass, that often reaches up to 1,000 m, the sun is warming up the air.


Styria is the Austrian province with the biggest deposits of raw materials.
Iron ore with a content of 32 % iron and 2% manganese has been extracted on
the Erzberg mountain in Eisenerz already since the Middle Ages. Open-cast
mining produces 3 million tons of ore a year. Smelting is done in Donawitz
near Leoben.
Between Judenburg and Mürzzuschlag at the Mur-Mürz furrow, an important east-
west traffic line, we find the most important industries of Upper Styria with
iron and steel works. In this century, the mining of magnetite (in Oberdorf an
der Laming, Veitsch, Trieben, Breitenau) has gained worldwide importance.
The brown coal mine Voitsberg-Köflach supplies most of all the big thermal
power stations.
The traditional salt mining in Aussee extracts almost a third of the Austrian
A considerable part of the Austrian glass production comes from western Styria.
Almost 20 % of the Styrian population works in agriculture and forestry.
Stock farming represents the biggest part, especially in the Ennstal-Gröbming-
Irdning region and the Upper Murtal valley. In Styria almost 986,000 hectares
are covered with woods (60% of its territory). Also 75% of Austrian fruit
growing is located in Styria. Wine growing becomes more and more important in
southern and western Styria, even though it represents only 5% of the total
Austrian wine growing area.
An upcoming sector is tourism, for example in the Styrian part of the
Salzkammergut, the Dachstein/Tauern and Mariazeller region, the Weizer
holiday region and the thermal bath region in the southeast. Winter tourism
became very important in the Salzkammergut, the area surrounding Schladming
and Murau.


The forest is the habitat of different rodents (dormouse, edibles and squirrels)
as well as of the game, especially of deers. The red deer sometimes lives in mountain forest.
You find many predators like foxes, badgers and martens and few polecats, ermines or weasels.
The most hunted mammals are hares and rabbits. At altitudes above 1,300 m blue
hares are found. The high alpine area (1,300 m - 2,700 m) is the habitat of
marmots. The characteristic cloven-hoofed animal in the Alps is the chamois
which has increasingly reproduced in the last few years. Also the ibex could be
Buzzards, sparrowhawks and hawks can often be observed. Golden eagles are not seen frequently. Only a few pairs breed at the upper edge of the forest.
In the Alpine lakes and rivers many fishes are found. In the lakes of the
Salzkammergut region and in the mountain streams there live especially trouts,
chars, tenchs etc.
The area around the lakes and rivers is the habitat of snakes like the grass
snake. The snake of Aesculapius, wich can grow to a length of 1,80 m, prefers warm places.
This snake migrated from the Mediterranean region to the Alps. The adder instead
lives everywhere. Vipers and adders are poisonous snakes.
The Alpine salamander prefers the twilight and the rain. On warm rocks and
on sunny pathes you can observe lizards.
Many insects, which is the class of animals containing the largest number of
species, are protected by law for example the stag-beetle and butterflys like
the swallowtail.


Almost 60% of the whole territory is covered with woods, in the Calcareous Alps
and the Salzkammergut mostly mixed woods with beech and fir trees, partly also
sub-Alpine maple, yew and elm trees. Willow and alder trees are covering the
marshlands. The Alpine region is predominated by coniferous forests, mainly
spruce and larch trees. In the Tauern region you will find Alpine pines, dwarf
pines are typical for the calcareous plateaus. The timber line in the Central
Alps is at about 2,000m, in the Calcareous Alps at 1,700m. The Alpine pasture
region is located above (1,500m - 2,300m). Here the Alpine flora is most varied
and also protected, such as Alpine aster, Alpine flax, arnica, all kinds of
gentian, Alpine primrose and many more. Up to 2,400m there are single Alpine
pines, larchs and several kinds of dwarf pines. But here you can admire the
Alpine heathland: heather, blueberry, cranberry, reindeer and iceland lichen
and especially Alpine roses - in early summer time the Alpine pastures are
coloured red.
Huge lands were cleared for stock farming during the Middle ages. Today
there are lush green meadows with many different sorts of flowers. Most
impressive seem the meadows in the Ausseerland and Mariazeller region when the
time is right for the narcissus to flower.
In the Ennstal/Murtal valleys and on the Alpine terraces you still find high
marshlands with their characteristic plants, such as cotton grass, heather and
several kinds of marsh sedge.


Styria is situated in the southeast of Austria where the Alps pass over from
the high to the lower mountain regions. The second biggest Austrian province has
about 1,2 million inhabitants (240,000 live in Graz) and covers a total area
of 16,388 km².
The neighbour provinces of Styria are the Burgenland in the wast, Upper and Lower Austria in the north, Salzburg and Carinthia in the west and
Slovenia in the south. It is divided into the city of Graz, with its own statute, 16 political districts, 543 villages and 108 cities.
Upper Styria is bounded by the Calcareous Alps in the North (Dachstein, Totes
Gebirge, Ennstaler Alpen, Hochschwab, Schneeberg and Rax mountain chains).
The highest Styrian mountain is also located here - the Hohe Dachstein (2,996m).
The so called spine of Styria is represented by the Lower Tauern mountains with
their marvellous mountain lakes (Schladminger, Wölzer, Rottenmanner and Seckauer
Tauern chains). The lower foothills in Eastern Styria end in the woods of the
Fischbacher Alps, the Jogglland region and the Wechsel mountains.
In the west, central Styria is connected by the Packalpe, Stubalpe and Gleinalpe
mountains with the Grazer Becken basin. The lower course of the Mur river, which
is the main river in Styria, divides the hilly region into eastern and
western Styria. On its way to the Salzburg Lungau region and the Drau streamlet
the Mur river is gathering almost two thirds of all Styrian waters. The second
biggest river is the river Enns which leaves Styria towards the Gesäuse
mountains in the north. The river Raab is the biggest river in eastern Styria.
southern Styria with its characteristic poplar and cypress trees, that cover the
wine hills, is reminiscent of southern regions like the Toskana.


Land forms reach from the precipitous limestone Alps in the north to the
crystalline hilltops of the Niedere Tauern and further until the wooded low
mountain range of the Paleozoicum of Graz and the flat hills of the Styrian
tertiary basin.
To the south, the limestone Alps (Totes Gebirge, Hochschwab) are lined by a
narrow ribbon of older rock formations, which form the basis of the limestone
Alps. Among layers of paleozoic slate and carbonate, interspersed with volcanic
rocks, there are numerous deposits of important raw materials such as iron ore,
magnetite or talcum. The Styrian Erzberg mountain is the biggest mining area
in Austria. About 3 million tons of iron ore with a 32 % content of iron and a
2 % content of manganese are extracted here each year. Due to the content of
manganese, Styrian iron ore is a high-quality raw material.
Towards the south follows the crystalline of the Niedere Tauern and the Koralpe.
20 million years ago, the sea of the Hungarian Valley spread to the Alpine
region. The Styrian tertiary basin subsided and was flooded. In the west
Styrian basin lies the Köflach coal mine, where 127 million tons of coal have
been extracted since the 18th century.
Where the basin subsided at weak points of the earth´s crust, volcanic activity
erupted about 18 million years ago and basalt lava reached the earth´s surface
(where it carries now the Riegersburg and is found around Klöch). As a
consequence of the volcanic activity in the Styrian tertiary basin, there are
thermal springs, which are used for baths and heating.
Except for the Central Alps, big parts of Styria were free of ice. The common
loess layers of the Styrian basin consist of fine particles, which were blown
from the moraines and gravel surfaces.


Only in the year 15 BC the Romans occupied almost every part of today´s Styria
and that without any resistance. A big number of roads and villages were
founded in this period. Slavic peoples penetrated into the bleeded land after
the Western Roman Empire fell in 476 AD and the mass migration ended.
In 788 the land was under the reign of Charles the Great (settlement of
Franconian, Bavarian and Saxonian farmers and noblemen). After the Hungarians
were defeated near Augsburg (955), marches were founded at the
Eastern border which were under the rule of the Traungauer dynasty.
In 1180 the March "Stiria" was made a Duchy by Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa and in 1192 it came under the rule of the Babenberger dynasty and became therefore a part of Austria. After 1278 the Habsburg dynasty ruled the land (until 1918). The city of Graz was the Inner Austrian capital (until 1619) and for a short time also residential town of the Emperor. During the 15th century several regions became deserted because of serious plagues, Turkish
invasions and plague epidemics. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Thirty Years´ War, Hungarian and Turkish invasions impoverished the country.
The economic progress had been stopped in the 18th century due to the Napoleonic Wars, but continued during the 19th century when new industries were founded and the railway network was created (railway track between Vienna-Graz-Triest in 1857).
After World War I Styria had to cede to Yugoslavia the - economically - very important hinterland of
Upper Styria, in the South of the river Mur (Peace Treatment of St.Germain).
In 1955, after World War II, when the occupying forces (the English) left the country, recovery and economic upturn began.


During the Carolingian period in the 8th century the Bavarian tribe met with
the Slavic people. Eastern Styria became almost completely deserted because of
centuries of wars with the eastern riding tribes and it was populated by
German colonists, mostly Bavarians, since the 10th century.
The Carolingian areas are characterized by irregular village lands and settlings
(villages and agglomerates with divided blocks and block lands), the flat eastern regions that were colonized during the High Middle Ages are presenting regular roads and villages surrounded by huge agricultural lands. The mountain areas were opened by wilderness farms at several stages.
Most of the bigger villages were founded by the Dukes and became cities in order
to protect the land, to link the main roads or to become a miners´ center.
Many of these villages are market towns, located along a road and at the foothill of a castle. The highest population density presents the industrial region along the Mur and Mürz rivers, between Judenburg and Mürzzzuschlag.


Visitor Information

The Austrian accomodations are divided into different official categories. You can
choose between first-class hotels (five stars), simple inns (one star) and so on.

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


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.


Generally the shops in the Tyrolian towns are open from Monday to Friday
9am-6pm, Saturday 9am-12noon. Some shops are closed at lunch time (12noon-2pm).
Grocer´s shops often open before 8am and close at 6.30pm. Every first Saturday
of the month the shops stay open till 5pm.
In the big centers of tourism the shops are open at the weekend, too.

Mostly the banks are open from Monday to Friday, 8am-12.30noon and 1.30pm-3pm
(Thursday till 5pm).


The transition phase is over. On March 1, the Austrian Shilling was replaced by the Euro. The official fixed exchange rate as set by the European Central Bank is ATS 13.7603 for Euro 1.00.

EuroCheques EuroCheques are no longer accepted in Austria. All major travelers cheques are equally widely accepted. ATM ATMs are accessible 24-hours a day. ATMs are linked up internationally and have English instructions. Daily withdrawal limit: Euro 400. Currency exchange If you still have some Austrian Shillings left from your last vacation, you can exchange them for an unlimited period and free of charge at the National Bank.

Brockmanngasse 84, 8018 Graz, phone: 0 31 6/81 81 81-0


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.

Voyagers (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. Souvenirs up to
ATS 400 are duty-free.

Citizens of Non-Eu-countries can enlist the tax-refund. When buying products
to the value of more than ATS 1000 please ask for the Tax-Refund-Cheque or
the form U34.


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 is guaranteed at the doctor´s practices and hospitals.
Who has no internationally valid medical insurance record card ( is
accepted by the National health general practitioner ), has to pay
the treatment.

Chemist´s shop
Opening hours: Mon to Fri: 8am - 12noon and 2pm - 6pm, Sat: 8am - 12noon.
Night, weekend and holiday duty: at every closed chemist´s shop you find
a piece of advice about the next open chemist´s shop.


The general traffic regulations don´t differ from the regulations in other European countries.
Maximum speed:
Country roads 100 km/h, motorways 130 km/h
Especially the secondary streets in the Alps are partly one-way streets and are rich of bends.
Often it´s necessary to have exceptional driving skills. Many mountain passes are closed in
winter. Alpine passes that are open all year through are the Brennerpass, Fernpass,
Reschenpass and the Arlbergpass.


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)


Fire brigade122
Breakdown service


Opening hours of the post offices: 8am-12noon and 2pm-6pm
Main post offices in bigger towns: 24 hours service
Postage for foreign countries: letters ATS 7, postcards ATS 6

Telephone calls within Austria are graded according to zones and
cost less from 6pm to 8am as well as on weekends.
Public pay phones: for local calls you need coins of ATS 1, for
long-distance calls coins of ATS 10.
Telephone cards are available at the post offices to the price of
ATS 95 and ATS 50.

Dialling from Austria to
Great Britain0044

Dialling to Austria from Germany, Italy, Switzerland 0043
After the respective national dialling code the local dialling code must
be dialled without "0".

Information about telephone numbers
Europe (without Germany)1613
Non-European countries1614