10 Things You Did Not Know About Austria

Austria – 10 Interesting Facts!

1. Carnival
In Austria,  the Fasnachtsbräuche are celebrated. The winter spirits are acknowledged with sumptuous costumes and hand – carved masks – whether it’s the Glöcklerlauf in the Salzkammergut, the Ausseer Carnival in Styria or the Tyrolean carnival groups: the Imster Schemenlauf, the Fisser Blockziehen, the Telfer Schleicherlauf, the Matschgerer and Muller between Innsbruck and Hall or the Axamer Wampelereiter – all are «UNESCO immaterial cultural heritage of humanity». This century-old tradition is still celebrated – and is not just for tourists!

Celebrate Winter Spirts in Austria

It’s carnival time in Austria!

©Silberregion Karwendel – Muller-Auftritt

2. The oldest zoo in the world
The Schönbrunn zoo in Vienna is the oldest in the world and still open to the public. The zoo was founded by the Habsburgs in 1752 and covers an area of 17 hectares where 746 species from all over the world can be appreciated and admired. The zoo is particularly proud of its program for the protection of Giant Pandas.

The oldest zoo in the world

Enjoy a day at the zoo in Austria.

©Daniel Zupanc, Pandazwillinge Fu Feng & Fu Ban

3. The oldest restaurant
The oldest restaurant in Central Europe is located in Salzburg. The St. Peter Stiftskeller, now also called Haslauer, was first mentioned in 803 by Alkuin of York, a scholar and follower of Charlemagne.

Wonderful restaurants in Ausria.

Great cuisine in the oldest restaurant in Austria.

© St. Peter Stiftskeller

4. “No, there are no kangaroos in Austria! I am from Austria, not from Australia “
There is almost no Austrians who did not have to explain this when visiting other English-speaking countries. The term Austria is derived from the Old High German “austar”, which means “eastern”. The Latin word “australis”, on the other hand, means “south”. Nevertheless, residents of the Alpine republic have to emphasize again and again that there are more cows than kangaroos in Austria.

No kangaroos in Austria

Austria, not Australia!

© Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Josef Mallaun

5. Top at the Alpine Ski World Cup
The small country of Austria is in 1st place in the “eternal medal mirror” at the Alpine Skiing World Championships (as of February 2017) with a total of 287 medals in front of Switzerland (191) and France (128).

Best Alpine Skiers are from Austria

Austria is No.1 for Alpine Skiers.

©Ötztal Tourismus, Weltmeister Christoph Nösig

6. The Viennese coffee house
Vienna is inextricably linked to the Viennese coffeehouse tradition. Most of them know that the history of the Viennese coffee house is the result of the Turkish encrustation in 1683. Today there are 1,000e coffee houses of all kinds in the Austrian capital – the most famous of which are Demel, Central, Sacher, Hawelka, Imperial, partly still with its original equipment. There should be 50 different kinds of coffee preparations. Melange and Kleiner Brauner are known, but who has heard of “Überstürzten Neumann” or “Kleine Schale Gold”?

Austria and its coffee houses.

Famous coffee houses of Austria.

© Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Popp Hackner

7. Almabtrieb in den Alpen
In May, animals and humans share the delights of the green pastures but, after the summer, there is a  cattle drive celebrated every year by locals and tourists alike.  Cows are festively decorated and, thanks to the accident-free environment of the mountain, the cows are elaborately “padded”, the headdress of the animals consists of alpine roses and slate pines, decorated with colourful ribbons, glitter and mirrors. Cow bells are hung around the neck, so the chimes can keep away the demons during their movement. Nowadays, the Almabtrieb is connected in many places with a village festival with culinary delights and musical entertainment.

Austria and its cattle celebration.

Famous cattle drive in Austria!


8. “I came into the world for nothing else but composing” (Franz Schubert)
Important composers were born in Austria and still shape the image of Austria as “the land of music”: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, Franz Liszt, Johann Strauss. Later it was then the musical “The Sound of Music”, which underpinned this image far beyond Austria’s borders.

Famous music composers

Famous composers of Austria.

© Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde – Mozart
© Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: H.Wiesenhofer – Programm Zauberflöte
© Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde – Mozart
9. A song goes around the world
One of the most famous songs in the world comes from Austria: “Silent Night, Holy Night” by Franz Xaver Gruber (music) and Josef Mohr (text). On 24.12.1818, this reflective, wonderful Christmas song was first performed. And it became known worldwide, originating from the small community of Oberndorf near Salzburg – without YouTube, social media or radio and TV. This alone is a miracle!

Silent Night came from Austria

Austria and Silent Night!

© Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Lammerhuber
10. Sea Austria
As a landlocked country, Austria holds two rather strange records: the world’s largest fossil oystercatcher with more than 15,000 giant oysters is located in Lower Austria. From the fossil remains of 650 species of animals and plants found in the Korneuburg Basin, scientists have reconstructed it to show how it looked 17 million years ago.

Oyster catcher fossil in Austria

Austria and its fossil record.

© Fossilienwelt
And the world record holder in apnoea diving (diving with only one breath) comes from Vienna. Herbert Nitsch has held this record of 214 m (!) since 2007.

Diving record in Austria

Even more records held by Austria!

© herbertnitsch.com

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