Vienna's historic center, in its unity, is considered one of the most beautiful city landmarks in Europe. Three eras left their mark on the former residence of the Habsburgs: the Middle Ages with Gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral whose spire points toward heaven, one of Vienna's landmarks; the Baroque whose most important achievement is the Imperial Palace with its sumptuous cupolas. And the Ring Boulevard era of the late nineteenth century, when such splendid buildings as the Vienna State Opera and the Museum of Fine Arts were built to replace the former city walls.
The imperial flair of the center of Vienna is enhanced by numerous churches, mansions and parks, as well as by rich art collections gathered by wealthy rulers. And the centuries-old musical tradition ranges from the Court Chapel of the Imperial Palace to Mozart's immortal music and the waltzes of Johann Strauss. Also inextricably linked to the center of the city are the delights of Viennese cuisine, the gemütlichkeit of Viennese coffeehouses and nostalgic shopping at former purveyors to the royal-imperial court.
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