Vienna, cultural capital in the heart of Europe

How do you declare your love for a city? Johann Schrammel did so by dedicating a marsh to Vienna in 1886. About a quarter of the Austrians live in their capital, but the city welcomes even more tourists each year. What makes this city so fascinating?

Vienna is the heart of the Habsburg dynasty, that is, Emperor Franz Joseph and his ravishing wife, Elisabeth, also affectionately called “Sisi”. But Vienna is also a modern city in the heart of Europe with modern people in a modern country. Vienna has everything that makes a cosmopolitan city. It was the imperial capital and the permanent residence of the Habsburg dynasty, and today it is Austria’s capital and host to more than thirty international organisations such as OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) or the OSZE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

Vienna is a city full of reminders of a bygone era. At the height of World War One it was the fifth largest city in the world with a population of two million. Today some five million people from all over the world visit Vienna each year to admire the many attractions: the Hofburg, Schönbrunn Palace, and the Spanish Riding School—the imperial legacy. The Prater, the Danube, the Vienna Woods, and St Stephen’s Cathedral—exquisite landscapes and architecture. Theatres, museums, Viennese cuisine, the Alps, and much more.

Vienna, cultural capital

Anyone who travels to Vienna for its culture will not be disappointed, even if some things are reminiscent of older, better days. The likes of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert called Vienna home, ushering in the golden age of music. Big politics were played out here. In 1804 Francis II declared himself emperor of Austria, and the Congress of Vienna brought Europe as it was known till then to an end. But the modern era has not impoverished Vienna either: Johann Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schönberg, and Sigmund Freud animated the Austrian coffee houses with their ideas. The Vienna Boys’ Choir is world renowned, as is the Vienna State Opera. Even the Wiener schnitzel made it to fame and can be eaten right around the world. Vienna is prosperous, expensive, and worth living in—everything together.

Mainly Catholic

There are many religious denominations in Vienna, the Catholic Church being the largest. Actually, Austria is a very Catholic country. About seventy per cent of the population is Catholic. Protestantism—Reformed and Lutheran—as well as the Orthodox faith and others are a minority. Only after the First World War, when Austria became a republic, was it officially possible to establish churches. There are also New Apostolic Christians in Austria: about 5,000 spread over fifty congregations. District Apostle Markus Fehlbaum from Switzerland is their pastoral leader. The responsible Apostle is Philipp Burren, who is assisted by Bishop Peter Jeram, an Austrian.

Divine service at the Wiener Konzerthaus

There are no tickets left, neither for the concert nor for the Pentecost service. As in other parts of the world, the divine service with Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider will be transmitted via satellite to other congregations, also to the church in Vienna-Landstrasse.

Take a stance and profess the gospel

Last year, the Chief Apostle celebrated Pentecost with the congregations in Frankfurt (Germany). He called on his brothers and sisters to set an example for the Christian faith: “Let us set an example,” he appealed to the faithful. One way to demonstrate this, he said, is by proclaiming one’s belief publicly, that is, by participating in divine services and, above all, in Holy Communion. “If you want to profess that Jesus Christ is the way, the helper, and the solution, then let us celebrate Holy Communion.”

Photo: Henryk Sadura

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