When thinking of Vienna, opera, the impressive architecture, and the many coffee houses come to mind. With being chosen several times in a row as the most livable city in the world by a variety of global institutions, it is important to note Vienna is also a green city — about one-fifth of the city is covered by forests and woods, and more than half of the entire city area comprises woods, meadows, parks, and gardens. In the ranking ‘The World’s 10 Greenest Cities 2020,’ Vienna has been chosen as the world’s greenest city. More than 100 cities were assessed in terms of, among other things, public parks, the amount of green in the city, air quality, environmental friendliness, and public transport.
Vienna’s woods provide a habitat for many rare plants and animal species and reach into the city itself. This greenery provides a recreational area much-loved by residents and visitors alike. Thanks to this green environment, residents of Vienna enjoy an excellent quality of life — a direct result of policies promoted and implemented by the city authorities.
“More than half of Vienna is covered by woods, meadows, parks and gardens. It is largely thanks to these huge ‘green lungs’ that we can boast an excellent quality of life. This is no coincidence: it is the result of consistent urban green space policy.”
There are around 1,000 hectares of forest within the city limits, of which 700 hectares consist of Viennese vineyards which leave their mark on the cityscape and its wine culture. Vienna is one of the few capital cities in the world which produce its own wine. In total, 240 wine framers produce 2.5 million liters of wine every year with its smallest vineyard in the middle of the center – only 100 m2 in all, located on historic Schwarzenbergplatz in the 1st District.
Walking a bit further into the city center to the 1.6 km long shopping street, Mariahilferstraße, will confirm Vienna’s dedication to becoming a ‘greener’ city. In the past years, the city has turned one of Vienna’s most prominent shopping streets from a street for cars into a great public space for people – green, vibrant, and spacious. Ongoing activities include establishing new forested areas to expand the Green Belt of Vienna and maintaining recreation areas and facilities, such as hiking trails, benches, playgrounds, footpaths, and cycle paths. Due to the lack of space, the city even created floating gardens Danube Canal. This is a wonderful example of how existing circumstances can be utilized and historic buildings integrated into modern urban development projects. Planning, design, and maintenance of attractive green areas are central to urban planning. The city manages the urban forests, woods, and meadows without using pesticides and fertilizers.
With regards to forests near and around Vienna, the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) is the first that springs to mind. The 45-kilometer-long and approximately 20-kilometer-wide range of hills Northeast of the city is heavily wooded and a popular recreation area with the Viennese.
Around 7,500 hectares of nearby forests, incl. the Vienna Woods, are maintained as protected areas. Here activities are focused on nature conservation; tending and maintaining meadows; planting shelter woods and seeding adjoining fallow land; providing information for visitors about woods and forests; maintaining footpaths and roads; game management; sale of timber; and environmental education.
An additional 33,000 forest areas are safeguarding the quality of Vienna’s drinking water by filtering pollutants and slowing down and storing rain and supported through local government policy. Vienna’s forest management is based on ecologically sound practices and activities, including game management, sale of timber; provision of information for visitors to woods forests and alpine space; and the maintenance of footpaths and roads.
Royal Palaces Of Vienna
The Imperial Gardens Of Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, was the residence of the Habsburg emperors from the 18th century to the early 20th century. During the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, an impressive baroque garden was built around the palace: a symbol of imperial power and a homage to nature. The grounds of Schönbrunn cover 160 hectares, including the world’s first zoo, a Great Parterre with patterned flower beds, a Palm House with exotic specimens from all over the world, and an Orangery of 189 meters long and 10 meters wide. Today, these gardens are part of Schönbrunn’s UNESCO World Heritage and provide a popular recreational activity for the Viennese and for international visitors: from taking a walk, visiting the zoo or the Palm House to picking wild garlic in the woods. “These gardens, together with the woods, meadows, and parks, cover more than half of the entire city. It is largely thanks to these huge ‘green lungs’ that Vienna boasts an excellent quality of life,” points out Ulli Sima, Councillor of the City of Vienna.
The Baroque Gardens of Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere Palace was home to Prince Eugene in the 17th century. It withstood many reconstructions and attacks but has been remodelled into a modern exhibition hall whilst still preserving the building’s original Baroque fabric. The gardens of the Belvedere Vienna are among the best baroque gardens in Austria, if not Europe. So much so that they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. Not only do the gardens connect the Upper with the Lower Belvedere but they host bold beautiful sculptures, neatly trimmed hedges and artful flower beds according to French empirical design. With its three-level area sloping down in a small maze, the garden’s water cascades and fountains in the middle of the garden make it particularly fresh and breathy.
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