The Republic of Austria, a Central European landlocked country borders the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and New Zealand. Austria covers an area of 83,879 square kilometers while the terrain is mountainous. Over 68% of Austria lies above 500 meters while the highest point is 3,798 meters above the sea level. Austria is the world’s 12th richest country regarding GDP with tourism accounting for 9% of the gross domestic product. The country receives the 12th highest number of international tourists with over 20 million tourists visiting the country annually. UNESCO World Heritage Sites are among the most popular tourists’ attraction sites in Austria. These heritage sites include:
Historic Graz and Schloss Eggenberg
Graz is the second largest city in Austria and the capital of Styria. The city has a long traditional history as a University town while its “Old Town” is the best-preserved in the center of Europe. In 2003, Graz held the title of “European Capital of Culture” while in 2011, it was named a “City of Design” by UNESCO. Some of the major sites in Graz today include Kunsthaus, a modern art house, museum, and Murinsel (an island made of steel). Schloss Eggenberg is also one of the most valuable cultural assets of Austria. The construction of the Eggenberg Palace mirrors the one-time mighty dynasty of Styria. Schloss Eggenberg is regarded as a cultural history site. Historic Graz and Schloss Eggenberg were listed asWorld Heritage Site in 1999.
Fertö-Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape
Fertö-Neusiedler See Cultural Landscape consists of Lake Fertö, which is the largest endorheic lake in Central Europe situated in the territory of both Hungary and Austria, and National Park Neusiedler See-Seewinkel. The National Park covers a total area of 97 km2 on the eastern edge of the Alps. The park is considered a buffer zone between the great powers of Europe. Neusiedler See is a meeting point for different species of plants and animals including alpine, Asian, and European species. These species have created mosaic environments. Fertö-Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape was accepted as a World Heritage Site in 2001 with the area protected through the Ramsar Convention on Wetland. The landscape contributes to the growth of tourism in Austria.
Hallstatt-Dachstein-Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape
Hallstatt-Dachstein-Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape is characterized by a combination of culture and settlement. Hallstatt-Dachstein rose to prominence due to the salt mining. Salt created a lot of wealth for the kingdom and contributed to the rich architectural and cultural heritage. The diverse landscape in the region and the cultural significance managed to secure the area the title of both UNESCO World Heritage Site and Cultural Heritage Site in 1997. Dachstein is not only famous for the landscape but also because of the wide range of plants and animals which have made the area a subject of research for scientists and an inspiration site for artists.
Historic Salzburg is an “Old Town” renowned for its baroque architecture. Salzburg is one of the best-preserved city centers in the Alps and was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The city is also an education center for university students. Tourists flock the city to tour the historic center and to enjoy the Alpine surroundings.
All the nine World Heritage sites in Austria are cultural. The cultural sites range from historic cities with the rich history of the Austrian to magnificent gardens with diverse plants and animals, and prehistoric dwellings.