Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Wed 28 May 2008

Euro 2008 City Guide: Vienna

Following yesterday's cursory overview of the eight cities hosting Euro 2008 games this summer, our inbox became overrun with an email from our good friend over at Football Overdose, Chris C Paul.

With his usual sense of politeness and decorum, he informed us that quite honestly our venue guide to Euro 2008 was a sham and an insult to the intelligence of football fans everywhere. Before we could so much as say 'alright then - see if you can do better', he went and showed us that he could do better, and the result is a guide to the city of Vienna (below) that's really very good. Could you tell we were saying that through gritted teeth?

The history of Vienna is redolent with conflict, culture, and intrigue. The Celts, Barbarians, Romans, and Ottomans have all fought it out for this central European hotbed. Even the mongols had their eyes on it at one time and had plans to sweep through on horses to do a bit of raping and pillaging.

More recently the city's back streets and swanky hotels saw the shady goings on of the Cold War and James Bond-style espionage. Throughout history, therefore, Vienna has been a western stronghold, a bastion of the west against the rest.

No wonder, then, that culture, or what we think of as western high culture - the opera and all that - has become so integral to its identity. All the intellectual and cultural highbrow activity mark it out as a place of importance: a place worth preserving in the western mind set.

Loads of composers have lived and produced there, the classical big guns of Strauss and Mozart among them, attracted like artistic types always are to throbbing and diverse cities.

Statues and busts of the great and good dot Stadtpark in the middle of town. More recently a youthful Adolf Hitler would stalk the Viennese streets, inspired by its triumphal Aryan heritage.

Vienna is really a living museum of the west, stately and mysterious. An historic venue for that comparatively small matter of the European Cup, it also has the world's oldest zoo. Oh, and the Viennans make a delicious apple strudel.

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