Austrian & Swiss Culture

Austrian Beer.

Austrian Beer & Wine

Although the stereotype may be that Austrians are all beer guzzlers, and it's true that there are a lot of excellent Austrian beers, Austria also has an active café culture, and produces many good quality wines. Austria has about 5000 vineyards covering 141,000 acres, including some within the city limits of Vienna itself. The dominant white grape in Austria is Green Veltliner (responsible for more than a third of output), which produces tart, fruity wine. It is only just gaining recognition outside Austria, partly because the best vintages are so enthusiastically snapped up by the internal market. Austrian wines made with this grape outperformed renowned Cardinals in recent blind tasting sessions.
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Austrian food and cuisine.

Austrian Food & Cuisine

Austrian food has a lot of common with German food, but is also influenced by Hungarian and Slav cooking, remnants of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
Traditional Austrian cooking is based around meat and potatoes, goulash, pastries, sausages, and dumpling after dumpling after dumpling, but in recent years there as also emerged a 'New Austrian' school of cooking which uses less salt and butter, and tries to create lighter, healthier organic dishes.
Austria has been described as a 'knoedel country', because the people eat so many dumplings. Varieties of dumpling range from potato to strawberry, but the most common is the Semmel Knoedel.
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Austrian Culture A-Z listing.

Austria A-Z

Austria A-Z - famous Austrians, Austrian towns and cities, well-known buildings and tourist attractions, foods, drinks, products - all things Austrian. From Achensee to Zillertal from Alps to Zwieselstein. Click on the links for further in-depth information.
A = Accommodation, Achensee, Airlines, Alpbach, Alps, Altmunster, Arlberg, ATM, Austria, Austrian People's Party (OVP), Austro-Hungarian Empire.
B = Bad Aussee, Bad Gastein, Bad Gleichenberg, Bad Hofgastein, Bad Ischl, Baden bei Wein, Badgastein, Banks, Bars, Beaches, Beer, Bim, Bodensee, Books on Austria, Bregenz, Bregenzerwald, Bruchner Anton (composer), Buschenschenk, Buses.
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Hiking and mountain walking in the Austrian Alps.

Hiking in Austria's Alps

Austria is two-thirds Alps, so unsurprisingly when its soaring mountains are not covered in snow and skiers, they swarm with happy hikers (an estimated 3 million of them per year).
Most trails are very well marked, (with red and white stripes on trees or boulders along the way), and there is also a difficulty coding system based on the colours used for skiing runs. Blue is easy, red is intermediate, and black is the hardest. Just as with ski runs, beginners would be ill advised to take on the difficult routes immediately.
The best time for hiking is the summer - June to September - when temperatures average in the twenties Celsius in most areas. The tradeoff is that this is the also the time when you will encounter most tourists, and when prices are at their highest.
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Austrian history.

History of Austria

The area now known as Austria has been inhabited for at least 25,000 years. One piece of evidence for this assertion was the discovery in 1908 of one of the oldest piece of art known to man - the 5cm tall statue 'Venus of Willendorf'.
The statue is of an extremely fat woman with plaits but no face and no feet. Archaeologists are not sure of the exact significance of the statue, but if you want to have a look yourself it is displayed in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
3500BC A man with dark hair and blue eyes dies in a bloody fight. (See 1991AD)
500BC Celts settle in the area. This is the beginning of 'civilisation' in Austria. The Celts set up trade routes and mine salt.
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Books on Austria and Switzerland.

Books on Austria & Switzerland

Looking for a good read on Austria & Switzerland? Interested in Austrian and Swiss culture, language and history or thinking of visiting the country on business or vacation?
In association with Amazon we review some of our favourite books on Austria & Switzerland.
Titles from Lonely Planet, Fodor's, Frommer's, Penguin, Aurum Press, McGraw-Hill, Workman Publishing, Insight Guides, Cambridge University Press, Rough Guides and Eyewitness.
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Photographs of Switzerland.

Images of Switzerland

A collection of professional images of Switzerland. Photographs of Swiss cities, towns, monuments, famous buildings, landmarks as well as photos of scenery and people.
All our images are © copyright. If you wish to purchase or commission a photograph of Austria or Switzerland please contact us for further details and pricing, otherwise sit back and enjoy!
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Photographs of Austria.

Images of Austria

A collection of professional images of Austria. Photographs of Austrian cities, towns, monuments, famous buildings, landmarks as well as photos of scenery and people.
All our images are © copyright. If you wish to purchase or commission a photograph of Austria or Switzerland please contact us for further details and pricing, otherwise sit back and enjoy!
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Joerg Haider and the Austrian Right.

Joerg Haider

The election by Austrian voters of far right Nazi sympathiser Joerg Haider and his Freedom Party into a coalition government sent shock waves around the world in 1999.
Haider has been accused of racism and anti-semitism, but in the Austrian media he is considered to be a normal part of politics.
The Austrian head of state is the president who is directly elected for a six-year term. The Austrian parliament consists of two chambers, the National Council of 183 members which is elected by proportional representation, and the Federal Council, which is elected by provincial parliaments. Austria became a full member of the EU in 1995.
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart, a name synonymous with musical genius, is undoubtedly the best known and most popular classical composer the world has ever produced. He is the composer of over 600 pieces of music and was an astounding child prodigy, composing by the age of five and well used to performing in front of the kings and queens of Europe before he was ten years old.
Almost inevitably there was another side to this genius. There is no definite proof, but large amounts of circumstantial evidence point to Mozart suffering from various types of mental illness, including Attention Deficit Disorder, Tourettes Syndrome (which can cause sufferers to swear uncontrollably), bipolar disorder and even coprographia - an obsessive need to write down filth.
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The legal situation regarding prostitution in Austria is complicated and varies by region, but it is basically legal.

Sex & Prostitution in Austria

The legal situation regarding prostitution in Austria is complicated and varies by region, but it is basically legal.
Prostitutes are to be found in brothels, strip clubs, saunas and massage parlours, and others practice an interesting innovation called Kabinsex.
The 'cabin' is similar to that which would be used for a peepshow, but with two holes in the wall. The first hole is at the appropriate height for a porn film to be watched through it, and the second hole is located just below waist height - so that the prostitute can administer her services through the hole without even meeting the customer.
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Swiss people have sex in the same ways as people in the rest of Europe.

Sex & Prostitution in Switzerland

The 2005 Durex Sex Survey proved what many may have long suspected - Swiss people have sex in pretty much the same ways as people in the rest of Europe.
According to the survey, the Swiss have sex an average of 104 times per year, which makes them slightly more active than the inhabitants of co-hosts Austria, but 38% of Swiss respondents still wish they could have sex more frequently.
17% said they had had a one night stand, 40% had had anal sex, and 22% had been involved in some kind of bondage. This makes them slightly less kinky than North Americans and British, and roughly similar to Scandinavians.
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Sigmund Freud in Vienna.

Sigmund Freud & Psychoanalysis

As the founder of psychoanalysis Freud was one of the most important psychologists in history. By popularising ideas such as penis envy, the Oedipus complex, dream symbolism, anal retentiveness and Freudian slips (technically known as parapraxes) he has done more to promote psychology in the public imagination than any other man.
He was born Sigismund Schlomo Freud in 1856 to a Jewish family in Freiberg, now part of the Czech Republic, but then part of the Austrian Empire.
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Skiing, snowboarding and zorbing in the Austrian Alps.

Skiing in Austria

Austria's alpine scenery will take your breath away, so what better way to enjoy the mountain air than hurtling down a snowy mountain on two planks?
The Alps account for about two thirds of Austria's area, and so skiing is naturally a big thing. Austria has about 22,000km of pistes in 800 winter sports resorts- and this is in a country with about the same area as Ireland, or which could fit into Texas almost nine times.
Apart from skiing there's snowboarding, snowshoe hiking, ice climbing and ice golf. You can even try sailing or skiing on frozen lakes, or go for a ride on a dog-sleigh.
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Skiing, snowboarding and zorbing in the Swiss Alps.

Skiing in Switzerland

Switzerland is a relatively expensive place to ski. Equipment hire can be particularly costly, but in return you get some of the best downhill skiing in the world, and resorts where facilities are invariably first-rate.
Switzerland's ski resorts offer some of the biggest, highest and toughest runs in the world. Generally skiing has grown up steadily around mountain villages, meaning the setting and atmosphere is very different from the purpose built mega-resorts of France or the USA. The Alps cover about three fifths of Switzerland's area, so skiing is available in most regions.
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The Swiss Army Knife is a cultural icon.

Swiss Army Knives

The Swiss army knife is a cultural icon famed as far afield as Japan, where it is known as a 'suisu ahh-mee naifu'. Two US presidents have had personalised Swiss Army Knives designed, and there is even one in the New York Museum of Modern Art.
The knife's history dates back to 1891 when Karl Elsener discovered that the Swiss Army were using German knives. This irritated him so much that he founded the Association of Swiss Master Cutlers and began work on the Swiss Army Knife's ancestor, the 'Soldier's Knife', which was wooden handled and featured a blade, a screwdriver, a punch and a can opener.
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The Swiss Armed Forces.

Swiss Armed Forces

All Swiss males are obliged to do military service, although about one third manage to 'dodge the draft', by being, or claiming to be physically or mentally unfit, or conscientious objectors. Most do an initial stint of about 4 months, after which they are transferred to the Reserves.
Each Reservist is required to keep their own rifle, military uniform, and 50 rounds of ammunition in a tin at home. It is strictly forbidden to use the bullets for any purpose other than self-defence.
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German Philosophers.

German Philosophers

German and German speaking philosophers have made vast contributions to philosophy, and through philosophy, to the course of world history.
Perhaps the most influential were the 'great triumvirate' of Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel and Karl Marx. Other noteworthy philosophers include Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and the Nobel prize-winner Hermann Hesse.
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German Language.

German Language & Useful Phrases

German is the official language of Germany, Liechtenstein and Austria, as well as being spoken in parts of Switzerland, eastern France, northern Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, and a few places in Eastern Europe.
There are also large German speaking communities in North and South America. In total it is the mother tongue of about 100 million people. It is an Indo-European language particularly closely related to English, Frisian, Yiddish, Dutch, and Afrikaans.
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Switzerland has 4 national languages.

Swiss Languages & Useful Phrases

The diversity of Switzerland's languages will be evident to any visitor. Signs are often bi or tri-lingual, and sometimes newspaper stands have to be extra-long to fit in all the different language newspapers.
Switzerland (commonly known to Swiss as die Schweiz, la Suisse, Swizzera, or Svizra) has four 'national' languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh, of which German, French and Italian are also classified as 'official' languages. Romansh is an official language only in the canton of Grabinden.
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Swiss Politics and Democracy.

Swiss Politics

Switzerland is widely held to be the world's most democratic country.
All any citizen needs to do to challenge a law is collect 50,000 signatures opposing the law in 100 days and a national referendum must be held.
To challenge the constitution they must collect 100,000 signatures within 18 months to trigger a referendum, and need a simple majority of the popular vote and a majority among the states.
This makes Switzerland's democracy the most direct in the world - in no other country do the citizens have such direct control over the law.
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Swiss Stereotypes.

Swiss Stereotypes

Everyone knows what the Swiss are like.
Swiss men like to wear tight shorts, white shirts, braces and William Tell caps, usually with feathers in. They spend most of their time up in the mountains, singing as they walk.
They also enjoy yodelling and playing their 12m long Alpine horns. They are ruddy cheeked, fairly rich, and pretty smug because they have so much fresh mountain air and because their trains always run on time.
They survive on a diet of chocolate and holey-cheese. The women are mostly blonde, never grow old, like to help milking the cattle and are usually called Heidi.
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Images of Germany.

Images of Germany

Germany is criss-crossed by rivers and waterways, enjoys a temperate climate, and the elevation of the land rises to well over 9,000 ft (2,700 m). It is natural that such a landscape should be characterized by great beauty and awe inspiring scenes. Furthermore, the long history of civilization there, as well as the country's cultural and technological preeminence, means that its human landscape makes for impressions as profound and beautiful as the natural. With the co-operation of the tourism departments of German cities, as well as that of several professional photographers, is proud to bring you a growing kaleidoscope of the many faces of Germany. Whether you are intending to visit Germany for the World Cup in 2006 and want a preview of what awaits you, or whether you are browsing for your viewing pleasure, click and enjoy a variety of sights from the very heart of Europe. Remember: our collection is growing. Please come back for more.
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Schwingen, Hornussen and Waffenlaufen - traditional Swiss sports.

Traditional Swiss Sports

Schwingen, Hornussen and Waffenlaufen
In Switzerland Schwingen (pronounced sh-v-ing-en) has a history dating back at least 800 years. Lonely shepherds tending flocks in remote Alpine valleys needed activities that provided exercise, fun, and the comradeship and company of other people. Switzerland is host to over 100 Schwingen events per year, and there are even Schwingers‚ clubs in the USA.
Schwingen is, of course, traditional Alpine wrestling. Competitors wear oversized shorts, with a slit at the back so the belt can be held onto during grappling.
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History of German Football.

History of Swiss & Austrian Football

Possibly there is no football so misunderstood as that of Germany. Non-Germans may think of them as professional, nearly invincible, and always playing the same style of football.
The facts do not bear out these perceptions though. Here are just a few examples:
Professionalism came late to German football and the national team regularly lost to professional teams such as England and Austria, sometimes by a large margin.
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Weather forecasts for Switzerland and Austria.

Weather in Austria & Switzerland

The weather in Austria and Switzerland in June should be excellent for supporters watching football and touring the country. For playing football the conditions will be warm, though not too hot, with maximum temperatures above 20 degrees Centigrade in most parts of the country with the warmer temperatures to be found in Austria and venues to the south. The weather in Austria and Switzerland can be changeable however at this time and it is worth preparing for both rain and sunshine and even a few cool and cloudy days during your stay with temperatures around a 15 degrees Centigrade maximum. Rainfall is usually at a maximum in the summer months in both Austria and Switzerland.
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Viennese Breakfast.

Viennese Food & Cuisine

Arriving late on my first night in Vienna, the only place still serving food near the Hotel was a Würstelstand, where I enjoyed one of Vienna's greatest creations, the Käsekreiner, a sausage stuffed with cheese (3.20 Euros).
Greasy but delicious, this is the ultimate drunken snack. There must be thousands of Würstelstands dotted on street corners around Vienna, serving up staples such as Bratwurst (2.10 Euros), or newer inventions like Currywurst (2.50 Euros), a spicy sausage chopped and sprinkled with curry powder, then served on a paper plate with mustard and a hunk of brown bread or white Semmel roll.
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William Tell.

William Tell

Some time during the 13th Century, the Swiss canton of Uri came to be dominated by the Austrian Habsburgs. At the beginning of the 14th Century the Habsburg bailiff for the Uri canton was an unpopular chap by the name of Hermann Gessler.
To please his egomania, Gessler had a pole erected in the centre of the town of Altdorf, put his hat on top of it, and decreed that the poor locals must bow to his cap each time they walked past it - or else.
William Tell being a proud and patriotic sort of fellow, as well as a renowned crossbowman, of course refused to bend in submission to the pesky Austrians, and strode past without bowing.
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Gay Flag.

Gay and Lesbian Switzerland & Austria

Austria is well adorned with gay characters. Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), the man who built Schloss Belvedere and resisted the Ottoman advance into Europe, must be the most famous gay man in Austrian annals. [Read the full article]

More comes out in Switzerland than cuckoos out of clocks. More things melt in your mouth than bars of chocolate. And those tightly-laced Heidi bodices aren’t just for the girls. And yodelling. Who invented that? [Read the full article]

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