Whether you plan to visit Austria or you are genuinely interested in learning new things all the time, this article is for you. It is a compilation of interesting and surprising facts about the beautiful Alpine country.
1. World’s largest and longest ice cave system
Eisriesenwelt (translation: World of Ice Giants) is the world’s biggest ice cave, stretching for 42 kilometers (26 miles) into the heart of the mountain Hochkogel, located near Salzburg. Its first segment, which is about one kilometer long, features massive ice formations and is accessible to the general public.
2. Famous palaces like Belvedere and Schonbrunn
The Belvedere and Schönbrunn are two of Austria’s most renowned palaces. The Belvedere Palace was built between 1714–1723 by Prince Eugene of Savoy in Baroque style and it now houses the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere. Schönbrunn palace was built in 1696 for Emperor Leopold I and the amazing thing about it is that it has more than 1440 rooms! Schönbrunn was included on the United Nations’ World Cultural Heritage List in 1996.
3. Birthplace of many famous people
Austria is the birthplace of a fair share of famous people, including: actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger; classical music composers Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt, Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert, and Wolfgang Mozart; members of the rich Rothschild family; Adolf Hitler (commonly mistaken as German) and many more.
4. The Sound of Music
Although Austria gave some of the world’s greatest musicians, Austrians do NOT love The Sound of Music. I’m referring of course to the Hollywood musical, which is actually the highest-grossing musical of all time. Although it was filmed in Austria, people there find it offensive because it features and perpetuates many stereotypes and misconceptions about the country. For example, because of the film, people tend to think Edelweiss is Austria’s national anthem, which is not. At least it had a positive impact on tourism, as many still come to Salzburg to see the filming locations of the movie. Even if you never saw The Sound of Music, you are likely to recognize the opening scene from a widely popular meme format that circulates on the Internet (see bellow).
In 2021, Austria ranked no 6 in the top of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world, according to the World Population Review website. They recycle about 63% of their waste and the majority of the power used is generated from alternative energy sources.
6. Protected landscapes
Austria cares a lot about its natural landscapes, so much so that over 28% of its total land area has been declared protected. This is one of the highest rates of protected areas among countries in Europe, according to World Bank website.
7. Over 56.327 km of mountain paths
About 60% of Austrian territory is mountainous, mainly thanks to the Alps. Therefore, it is no wonder that the country has over 56.327 kilometers of mountain paths, suitable for walking, hiking or cycling. The paths are easy to follow, as they are clearly marked on trees and rocks, and additional info is available on signs placed along the way.
8. Organic crops
Austria was the first country to enact national organic farming legislation, which means they do not approve of the use of biotechnology to boost crop production. Consequently, according to FAO, of all the European countries, Austria has the highest percentage of organically farmed agricultural land.
9. World’s first postcard
Although private postal cards were used previously in countries like the US or Belgium, in 1869 the Austrian Post Office issued the world’s first government postal card.
10. 2860 carats emerald
The Imperial Treasury at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna has on display a precious gem called Emerald Unguentarium. As the name suggests, it is a carved emerald vase of 2860 carats! For many years, it ranked No 1 in the top of the largest emeralds in the world. That changed at the end of 2018 when Inkalamu, an emerald of 5655 carats was discovered in a mine in Zambia.
Do you know any other interesting fact that can be added to this list about Austria? Tell me in the comment section below and the best suggestions will be added.