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Straddling the convergence of Eastern and Western Europe, landlocked Austria is a country that has been shaped by a diverse range of influences. Occupied by Celts and later conquered by the Romans and Charlemagne, it was under the rule of the powerful Habsburgs, patrons of the arts who ruled for six centuries, that Austria’s cultural and artistic identity was established. Today, this is reflected in the regal elegance of cities such as Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck, and in the rich collections of the country’s wonderful galleries and museums. The Vienna Succession, which flourished around the turn of the 20th century, brought international prominence to the likes of Gustav Klimt and architect Otto Wagner, who contributed many fine landmarks to the skyline of Vienna, and ensured the continuation of Austria’s status as a leading cultural hub into the 20th century. The country’s visual arts are of course matched by an important musical heritage – Haydn, Schubert, Strauss and Mozart are just a few of the many great composers Austria has nurtured. Perhaps such cultural profusion is thanks to the scenic beauty of Austria as a whole; for beyond the country’s handsome cities, majestic alpine landscapes, charming towns, secluded churches and grand monasteries all await discovery.
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