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Austria is a small country with a large history. Once the cultural capital of Europe, its capital Vienna was the heart of the ancient Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many of the smaller towns and villages also retain a deep sense of the rich heritage which came of the various influences - Austrian, Balkan, Magyar, Italian and of course German. The country of Mozart and Haydn is today as warm-hearted as the scenery is breathtaking.

Villach, the centre of the province of Carinthia, seen from the tower in the centre.

Churches in Austria vary dramatically in style. Examples include the traditional nave & chancel design (right) and grand classical basilicas (left).

The grand Imperial palace in Vienna was once one of the most important centres of power in Europe. Its grandeur survives to bring a sense of greatness into modern times, which is at once uplifting and, when one thinks of the passing of the ages of beauty, slightly sad.

As you might expect in a country as mountainous as Austria, there are numerous lakes. This one is the Worthersee.

The river Danube has already flowed hundreds of miles from its source near the German-Swiss-French border by the time it flows through Austria on its way to the Black Sea. Apart from Vienna itself, it flows through numerous smaller towns and villages.

The Alps in Austria are less well known than in France or Switzerland these days, but are nonetheless spectacular. Anyone wishing for stunning scenery is unlikely to be disappointed. The Tirol (region around Innsbruck) is superb skiing country in the winter.

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