10 Things You Might Not Know About: AUSTRIA

šŸ‡¦šŸ‡¹ Ć–sterreich (“Austria” or the “Republic of Austria”) is a landlocked country in Central Europe that occupies an area of ā€‹ā€‹83,879 kmĀ² (32,386 sq mi). There are about nine million inhabitants that all use the metric system. The capital of the parliamentary republic is Vienna. Even though the national language is German, “Austrian Standard German” (a variation of Standard German) is unofficially considered as the national language. Besides a few differences, both language variations are mutually intelligible, meaning a German will usually understand an Austrian, and vice versa. šŸ‡¦šŸ‡¹

So, that’s it with the “boring stats.” Let’s talk about some unusual facts about Austria that you might’ve not heard of yet! 

1. The Oldest Still Existing Zoo In The World

Credits: Daniel Zupanc

The “Tiergarten Schƶnbrunn” located in the 13th district in Vienna is the oldest zoo in the world. It was founded in 1752 by Emperor Franz I Stephan von Lothringen, Maria Theresa’s husband, and is part of the Schƶnbrunn UNESCO World Heritage Site. As an “imperial menagerie,” the zoo has an exciting past but is now one of the most modern zoos in the world. The imperial flair and the combination of monument protection and contemporary animal husbandry make up its unique charm. On an area of ā€‹ā€‹17 hectares (42 acres), the zoo offers a habitat for over 700, sometimes highly endangered, animal species.šŸ’ šŸ˜ šŸ… šŸŗ šŸ¦’ šŸ¦ šŸ¦˜ šŸ¦“ šŸ¦› šŸ¦

2. 869 Titles

Austrians value titles and degrees. With a possible collection of up to 869 titles, Austria is definitely the frontrunner. In addition to the classic master’s, bachelor’s and doctoral degree, there are also titles such as “Hofrat,” “Bergrat,” and a few more in Austria. šŸŽ“

3. The “Law on the Abolition of the Nobility”

Yes, Austrians do love titles and are proud when they have one. However, they are not allowed to own a title of nobility. The “Adelsaufhebungsgesetz” (“Law on the Abolition of the Nobility”) was passed on April 3, 1919, when the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire ended. Violators faced fines and prison terms. The usage of noble titles such as “von,” “Edler,” “Erlauchter,” “Durchlaucht” or “Hohheit” was forbidden, as were titles such as baron, prince, count, or knight. Even the holding of family crests was (and still is) prohibited. As strange as it sounds, the law came into effect again in 2007, where a fine of mere 14 cents was imposed. šŸ‘‘

4. The Oldest Still Existing Newspaper

The “Wiener Zeitung” (Viennese Newspaper) was founded in 1703 as “Wiener Diarium” and included national and international news, and birth, wedding, and death announcement, as well as official statements from the nobility, and court reports. The Republic of Austria is still the sole owner of the newspaper. šŸ“°

5. The Inventors of Postcards

retro some old photos on wooden table

Yep, the Austrians did it first! Back in 1869, when Austria was still a double-monarchy known as “Ɩsterreich-Ungarn” (Austro-Hungarian Empire), the first postcards were introduced. The reason: At that time, the so-called correspondence cards with printed postage stamps were a cheap way to send short messages. Instead of a letter that had cost about 5 Kreuzer (by today’s standards ~ 30 USD), a card including shipping only cost 2 Kreuzer (~ 12 USD). It didn’t take long for people to put drawings and pictures on the cards, which, in the end, led to the first commercial postcard – naturally embellished with the beautiful landscape of Austria. šŸ“«

6. The Professor

Credits: Spanische Hofreitschule

The famous and most prestigious “Spanische Hofreitschule” (“The Spanish Riding School”) in Vienna dedicates itself to the preservation of classical dressage and the training of Lipizzaner horses since 1572. The horses start their careers and the age of four, and once the white stallions are fully trained (a process that takes around six years), they are fondly addressed as “professors.” šŸŽ“šŸ“

7. What Do Wine And The “Stephansdom” Have In Common?

1444 wasn’t a good year for viniculture (wine growing) in Vienna. That particular year brought such a sour wine that the Viennese citizens simply poured the brew onto the street until Emperor Friedrich III forbade it. He ordered that this wine had to be mixed with the mortar used for the construction of St. Stephen’s Church in Vienna instead. šŸ·

8. Pedestrian Light Athletes

Credits: APA/INNSBRUCK MARKETING

A skater šŸ›¹, a snowboarder šŸ‚, a hiker šŸ„¾, and a skier ā›·ļø! On the occasion of the International Children’s Games, which took place in Innsbruck in 2016, 36 figures of pedestrian lights in the city center turned into athletes. šŸ’Ŗ

9. Steven Spielberg Shares a Special Connection With Austria

Credits: Bertram A.

It’s his surname. “Spielberg” refers to the “Schloss Spielberg,” a small castle in Austria. His ancestors lived with the Count of Spielberg before emigrating to the USA. The main square was renamed “Steven Spielberg Platz” in honor of the Hollywood star. šŸŽ¬

10. Waterproof Mascara 

The Austrian singer Helene Winterstein-Kambersky invented the world’s first waterproof mascara in the 1920s. After about two thousand attempts, she succeeded and patented the recipe “La Bella Nussy.” šŸ‘ļø