City Focus: Vienna

- Leadership - Apr 03, 2019

The largest city in Austria and the nation’s capital, Vienna has been deemed the most livable city in the world.

Austria’s capital city has been home to some of the world’s greatest minds, including Beethoven and Freud. The 414.6sqkm of land houses almost 2mn citizens, and more than half of the metropolitan area is made up of green space.

Smart and livable

Vienna won the title of the most livable city in the world in the most recent Global Liveability Index 2018 released by The Economist Intelligence Unit. When rating global cities’ liveability, the survey considers safety, healthcare, educational resources, infrastructure, stability, and the environment. Prior to the 2018 report, the capital city has consistently ranked in second position. Vienna is focusing on improving its smart offerings and integrating smart infrastructure to make the city a more sustainable and efficient environment. “Vienna is a very livable and “smart” city, confirmed among others by the renowned Mercer Study and the Smart Cities Index of US climate strategist Boyd Cohen,” Vienna Tourist Board claims. “Of course, it's not only the high quality of life that makes Vienna a popular travel destination: The perfect infrastructure, forward-looking mobility and ‘smart’ offerings for guests are also what make the city on the Danube so attractive.” The city has established KnowledgeCity to make advancements in its status as a knowledge economy. The project is made up of 200,000 students from 10 universities – five applied sciences universities and five private universities. Vienna has also invested in its transportation services, including high-speed trains, hyper-modern train stations, and its Citybike network.

United Nations

Vienna has been working towards its smart city status in order to accommodate the number of organisations based within the capital. “Numerous international organisations and global companies have chosen Vienna as a city for their headquarters. The most prominent example is probably the United Nations (UN), which has made Vienna one of its four official seats and is represented by a total of 15 organisations, including UNIDO (industrial development) and UNHCR (refugee commission),” Vienna Tourist Board notes. “International organisations and companies need a smart infrastructure. Reachability and an efficient transport infrastructure are important key factors in this.” The UN opted to locate its regional headquarters in the city in 1980, following New York City and Geneva. “The UN Office in Vienna performs representation and liaison functions with permanent missions to the United Nations (Vienna), the host Government and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations in Vienna,” the UN says. The office forms part of the Vienna International Centre, which was designed by the architect Johann Staber. The building complex was built between 1973 and 1979 near the Danube river.


The city’s architecture heavily features baroque buildings, most of which were created during the ruling of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Franz Joseph – Ringstraße was built under the Emperor’s reign when he infamously stated “it is my will” to launch construction. Within the 5.3km region sits the Vienna State Opera, the Museum of Fine Arts, Parliament, and the Vienna Stock Exchange. The baroque Belvedere Palace is now home to the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings. The artist formed part of the Vienna Secession, the collective which resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists. Klimt is not Vienna’s only famous former resident – Austria’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Germany’s Ludwig van Beethoven both lived in the city during their musical careers, as well as Maria Von Trapp having been born in the city. Sigmund Freud graduated from the University of Vienna as a doctor in 1881 and lived in the city until 1938. The Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the House of Habsburg, can be found in the Hietzing municipal district. Along with baroque-style tourist attractions, the city also offers the largest structures in the country, including the Donauturm (or Danube Tower). Named after the river it sits on, the second longest river on the continent, the concrete tower was constructed in 1964 and stands at 827ft tall.

Original Vienna Snow Globes

Vienna is home to some of the largest companies in the region, such as Erste Group and UniCredit Bank Austria AG (Bank Austria). Erste Group was established in the city’s Leopoldstdt suburb in 1819 and has since become one of the biggest financial services providers in Central and Eastern Europe. The Austrian subsidiary of UniCredit was the nation’s largest bank when launching in 1991. However, the family-run business based within Vienna has also made global impact. The snow globe was invented in Austria, with production launching in Vienna by Original Vienna Snow Globes around 1900. The business’s clientele includes Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama’s children Sasha and Malia. The company manufactures around 200,000 pieces in its factory every year, and also operates as a museum.

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