The Port of Vienna (Wien in German) is the most populous city in Austria, its capital, and its economic, political, and cultural center. It is the 10th most populous city in the European Union and is recognized by some as having almost the best quality of living of any city in the world. Lying at the eastern edge of Austria on the Danube, it hosts many international organizations including the United Nations and OPEC. UNESCO designated the Port of Vienna as a World Heritage Site in 2005. Located in the heart of Europe's international trade and transportation routes, the Port of Vienna (Wiener Hafen) is a hugely important trade and commercial center. About 1.7 million people live in the urban area.
The Port of Vienna has seen many historic eras. Archeologists have found evidence of human occupation at the site of today's Port of Vienna that dates back to the Old Stone Age. In ancient times, the Illyrians lived there. Today's Vienna was founded as a Celtic settlement called Vindobona in about 500 BC.
By 15 BC, the Port of Vienna was a Roman frontier town that protected the empire from Germanic barbarians. During Roman occupation, the city grew to about 15 thousand population and was part of Rome's network for trade and communications. It is said that Emperor Marcus Aurelius died there in 180 AD while fighting off Germanic tribes. Rome was forced out of the Port of Vienna in the 5th Century, but the town survived.
Bavarians occupied the area for a time, during which the people became Christians. In 881, the Port of Vienna was called Wenia, and it was Wienis in 1030. Though it was threatened by the Mongols in the 1200s, the Port of Vienna was saved by the death of the Mongol leader.
In the middle Ages, the Babenberg Dynasty lived in there. This Frankish dynasty ruled the Port of Vienna from 1156 to 1246, during which time the city became an important center for trade. Crusaders purchased their provisions there on their way to the Middle East. Walls were built in the 13th Century, containing the city until the 1700s. In 1246, the last male Babenberg heir died.
With the vacuum left by the Babenbergs, a struggle for domination followed. The king of Bohemia ruled until 1278 when he died fighting the Habsburgs. The Habsburg Dynasty took the country and kept it for 600 years. Under the Habsburgs, the Port of Vienna flourished from trade with Venice, Hungary, and Trieste. It became the official home of the dynasty in 1440 AD.
The Port of Vienna led Europe's Renaissance in the arts and science. In the 16th Century when Charles V was installed as Holy Roman Emperor, he put his brother, Ferdinand I, in charge of the Austrian territory. Attempting to control rebellions, Ferdinand stripped the Port of Vienna of most of its rights in 1526. However, the city regained its political status when Ferdinand became Emperor in 1558.
In the 1550s, new fortifications arose, replacing the medieval walls. They were built to protect the Roman Catholic Church from the Protestant Reformers. During this period, Baroque architecture of the new buildings made evident the Port of Vienna's imperial stature and importance as a great capital of the world.
The 1679 outbreak of the bubonic plague brought tragedy to the Port of Vienna, and almost a third of its residents died. Soon after that, Turkish forces marched on the city, but Savoy's Prince Eugene drove them out of Hungary and Austria. The ensuing era of peace brought a new surge of building and, by the early 1700s, it had become a city of palaces and mansions.
During the 1700s, immigrants moved into the Port of Vienna from other parts of the empire, and the city's economy incorporated manufacturing to its long-standing trade. Maria Theresa assumed the thrown in 1740 and reigned until 1780. During her reign, she implemented many reforms, including compulsory school attendance, separation of the university from the church, and reorganization of the army, the judiciary, and the economy.
Her son, Joseph II, continued the reforms. He guaranteed freedom of religion to the Protestants, eased restrictions on Jews, made improvements to the government and education, and encouraged the arts. In 1790 when Joseph II died, the Port of Vienna supported 300 factories and 235 thousand people. The Golden Age of Music began with Haydn and Mozart, and Schubert and Beethoven brought it into the 19th Century.
Francis II brought the Holy Roman Empire to an end when he resigned his crown and declared himself to be emperor of Austria in 1804. In 1805 and 1809, Napoleon occupied the Port of Vienna. Although suffering state bankruptcy and inflation after the wars with Napoleon, the Port of Vienna maintained its important role in European politics.
The Port of Vienna was home to 430 thousand people by 1845, and its middle class was growing. Johann Strauss brought Viennese waltzes to the city, and the Port of Vienna's culture continued to mature. Major refurbishing was undertaken in the mid-1800s that brought elegant public buildings and fine parks to the Ringstrasse avenue that encircles the inner city. The drinking water supply was improved, the Danube was regulated, and utilities were installed. In 1859, full freedom of trade was established, and the Port of Vienna's economy and population grew quickly. In 1861, the Port of Vienna won self-government. In 1890, its administration extended to the suburbs.
By the beginning of the 20th Century, almost two million people lived in the urban area, and the Port of Vienna grew to both banks of the Danube. The city was an incubator for new ideas. Among the many who came there seeking work was Adolf Hitler. His attempt at art failed there, and his thinking was influenced by Viennese leaders Georg Ritter von Schonerer and Karl Lueger. At that time, the Port of Vienna was home to Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl. In the early 20th Century, the arts reached a zenith in the Port of Vienna. Art Nouveau was born there. Leading architects of the day created new inspired buildings. Painters and musicians innovated their fields, and many influential writers were part of the intellectual community.
World War I brought more people to the Port of Vienna, and refugees brought the population to over two million. At the end of the war, the Habsburg dynasty ended, and the German-Austrian republic was born in 1918. Socialist policies won the city the nickname of “Red Vienna," but the new republic was not strong. Marxists and their Christian Socialists brought politics to the streets, and huge demonstrations brought down harsh repression. In 1933, the Parliament was dissolved, and the government fired on Viennese workers in 1934. Frustration with the political climate drove many Austrians to the Nazi Party. In fact, many Viennese were in favor of uniting with Germany.
Germany occupied Austria in 1938, and the Port of Vienna became a German province. German suppression of Austrian culture, combined with their atrocities, led many to become dissatisfied with German rule. A new sense of nationhood emerged. In 1945, Soviet troops liberated the Port of Vienna. After World War II, Vienna was divided into five zones occupied by Allied forces. The inner city, containing government offices, became an international zone with rotating Allied control and a center for the business of global espionage.
By the end of the war, almost 25% of the city was damaged or destroyed, and the Port of Vienna's population had shrunk to 1.3 million. In 1955, Allied troops were withdrawn, and the country regained its independence.
The Port of Vienna has seen many fluctuations in position and power, but it has remained a central point of East-West contact. It is an important international center and home to several international organizations, including OPEC. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Industrial Development Organization, and several other UN agencies are based in the Port of Vienna.
The Port of Vienna's economy is based on commerce and industry, but government is also an important employer. Tourism is a significant part of the economy as well, with about two million visitors to the city each year. The Port of Vienna provides a quarter of the country's jobs and is responsible for a third of the gross national product. With an increasing aging population, the Port of Vienna has begun to recruit foreign labor to fill positions in services and menial occupations.