These 12 relics offer a glimpse into bygone eras, from Roman fortresses to the extravagant architectural feats of the long-reigning House of Habsburg. Discover Austria’s complex and rich past through these 12 spectacular landmarks.
This beautiful Gothic Cathedral is one of the most culturally significant buildings in Vienna. The multi-coloured ornate tiles on the rooftop, arranged to create the imperial double-headed eagle, immediately draw your eyes towards this magnificent structure. It comprises four towers, 13 bells and a beautiful and lavish interior.
This 900-year-old mammoth fortress in Salzburg is among the largest in central Europe — and one of the most well-preserved medieval landmarks in Austria. The building was erected around 1077 by Gebhard von Helfenstein and was built with the intention of ensuring the safety of the archbishops, as well as being the site of barracks and a prison. Today, as a museum, it is one of Salzburg’s most visited tourist destinations — famed for its impressive interior with detailed Gothic furnishings and decorative frescos.
A relic to the exhaustively reigning Austrian dynasty, the House of Habsburg, this excessively impressive royal establishment was built during the 13th century, with an extensive amount of construction work added since. Being once the workplace of many of the country’s most important political figures — from emperors to dukes — it has been witness to a colourful and eventful past.
A part of the above mentioned Hofburg Palace, the predecessor of the national library dates back to the 1300s. It was Emperor Friedrich III who first paved the way to turning it into an imperial library, ordering the government to collect all the Habsburg family heirlooms to preserve in the building. During WWII, the library was managed by high-ranking SS Guard and national socialist Paul Heigl, who ordered looted material to be kept in the library — much of which has since been returned.
Carnuntum archaeological park
One of the highlights of Austria’s Roman relics, the Carnuntum archaeological park reveals history in these wonderful ruins, where you can walk in the footsteps of emperors. The Roman City Quarter, the Military City’s Amphitheatre and the Museum Carnuntum are all available to see, with in-depth guided tours available.
Mauthausen Concentration Camp
From 1938 to 1945, tens of thousands of victims of the German Reich were murdered inside the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Upper Austria. A memorial dedicated to the lives lost was set up just a few years after its closure. One of Austria’s darkest historical landmarks, the museum is a stark, painful and necessary reminder of past atrocities.
Home to the mayor of the city, Vienna’s City Hall is a splendid limestone building of neo-Gothic style, situated in the Innere Stadt district, opposite the Rathauspark. Friedrich von Schmidt was the architect behind the design, beginning construction in 1872. It is made up of five towers and covers an area of over 19,000 square metres.
Many secrets lie in the walls of this historic landmark, where Austria’s most prominent political figures over centuries have worked. Not only is its past interesting, but the architecture is too — both inside and out. Guided tours are available, giving members of the public a chance to admire the lavishly decorated interior which features carved marble figures and Frieze paintings.
The Albertina has been a treasure trove of the finest art collections since 1805. This noble Neo-classical Viennese palace was taken over from the Habsburg dynasty in 1919 by the Austrian Republic, giving it the name of Albertina Graphic Art Collection. The collection is extensive, featuring works from Monet, Degas, and Picasso.
The Salzburg Catacombs/St Peter’s Monastery
With some of the gravestones dating back to 1288, this beautiful and peaceful site is one of the oldest cemeteries in Salzburg. Among the notable historical figures laid to rest in the grounds of the monastery is Maria Anna Mozart (Mozart’s older sister). The catacombs, carved into Mönchsberg rock, are one of the primary reasons for visiting the site.
Erected under the order of the infamous Habsburg Empire, this impressive landmark was the official Imperial Court Theatre, built in 1741 next door to the palace. Europe’s second oldest theatre, today it accommodates over 400,00 audience members annually. Gustav Klimt and his brother Ernst Klimt contributed to the decoration of the interior, painting two of the staircases in Imperial-style magnificence.
Austria contains many wonderful monumental Baroque-style buildings, and, architecturally, this is one of the most impressive. Visitors are first met with a domineering marble façade, peered down upon by four statues of apostles and Salzburg’s patron saints. Many treasures are hiding inside, including a 1300 Bronze Baptismal Basin in which a little-known composer called Mozart was christened as well as a decorative organ.