About Linz

The capital of the federal state of Upper Austria is situated astride the Danube. With a population of 190.000, Linz is Austria's third largest city and links the Mühlviertel region that stretches north to the Czech border with the rolling hills that extend to the Austrian Alps in the south.

The Linz Metropolitan Area is the hub of a thriving regional economy. Here, technology, industry and high ecological standards are no contradiction: Linz is one of Austria's most environmentally-friendly communities with green spaces making up 60% of the city.

Besides strong industry, Linz is home of the Prix Ars Electronica and the Crossing Europe Filmfestival and was the European Capital of Culture in 2009. There is plenty to see and to do within easy reach of the conference venue, like visiting the Ars Electronica Center, the Lentos museum, the Musiktheater (opera house) or the Höhenrausch (Linz city center rooftop tours).

For further information have a look at our Linz Tourist tips and the LINZ.CHANGE(D) city guide book provided by the Linz tourist information.

Copyright:©Tourismusverband Linz/Röbl

Copyright:©Tourismusverband Linz/Röbl

For additional information see:
Upper Austria

A Short History of Linz

The name Linz is of Celtic origin and refers to the curve which the Danube River describes while traversing the city. There were a number of Celtic cave settlements within the territory of the current municipality in the last years before the birth of Christ, whose fortifying walls are still recognizable. The Romans set up a military camp and a civil settlement here around the time of the birth of Christ. The earliest parts of today’s St. Martin’s Church on the Römerberg (Roman Mountain) were built in the Carolingian period, around 800 AD. Beneath the castle, in the area of the current Old Town, a civil settlement grew up. The large Main and Market Square, which was systematically planned, originated around 1200 AD. Not only festivities and markets were held there, but also trade fairs, which took place twice a year. The market place thus constituted an important hub for commerce between Italy and the Baltic Sea. At that time Linz had between 2000 and 3000 inhabitants.

Linz first attained greater cultural significance in the 15th century. It was not only the capital of the then nascent Province of Upper Austria, but also served as the seat of Emperor Frederick III for a few years around 1490. He enlarged the castle, and finally died in the city in 1493. The presence of the emperor enhanced the development of Linz into a center of European scholarship and art. Under his son, Emperor Maximilian I, it no longer had the importance it had enjoyed during the last years of the reign of Frederick III, but the Habsburg rulers now and then resided here, at least temporarily, until the beginning of the 17th century. They expanded the castle and turned it into a Renaissance palace. At the same time they brought important artists and scholars such as the astronomer Johannes Kepler to Linz. For more than ten years he taught in the “Landschaftsschule”, an institution which prepared scions of aristocratic and wealthy families for university studies. During the Counterreformation many Catholic orders became established here; they founded schools and hospitals and built numerous Baroque churches.

In the 17th century the significance of Linz declined, while that of Vienna increased. That “Linz” rhymes with “province” has been a platitude since the 18th century. The city was renowned for its beautiful women (the mythos of “Die Schöne Linzerin”) and for the marionette figure “Linzer Kasperl”. Around 1850 it boasted about 26,000 inhabitants. In the 18th century it was the seat of the “Linzer Wollzeugmanufaktur”, an industrial enterprise specializing in wool and cotton textile products which was known throughout Europe. Only in 1858, when the Vienna-Salzburg-Munich Railroad went into operation, did the era of the steam railway begin for Linz, however. Before that, namely in the decades after 1832/1836, it had been the middle point of the horse railway, which carried freight and passengers from Budweis over Linz to Gmunden and was the longest as well as one of the oldest horse railway lines on the European continent. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in Gothic Revival style was, however, undoubtedly the largest construction project in 19th century Linz, both in respect to its dimensions and the time needed to complete it. Begun in 1862 and finished in 1924, it is still the largest church in Austria.

In 1938 the city had a population of a little over 100,000. Adolf Hitler, who considered it his native town, wanted to expand it, thereby turning it into a Danube metropolis with a population of 420,000 and large steel as well as chemical plants (the current VOEST plant and the Chemie-Linz enterprise). He planned to enhance its beauty with representative buildings and to construct museums which would display the artworks he had looted and confiscated. These ideas were never realized, and in the end only ruins remained. Between 1945 and 1955 Linz was a divided city. The Soviet Union occupied the zone to the north of the Danube, whereas the Americans established themselves on the south side of that river. Passage between the zones was strictly controlled on the Danube Bridge. Meanwhile the population had increased to 192,000, and besides that at the end of the war approximately 40,000 refugees from 25 nations were accommodated in 64 barrack camps in and around the city. These transformed Linz from a baroque to a barrack town. It did, however, profit from the fact, that its large industrial plants were all located in the American zone. The VOEST realized innovations of international significance in the period prior to 1952: the newly developed LD Process for steel production and the continuous casting technology. The settling of numerous medium-sized enterprises also proved to be important for the development of the city. In 1966 a university was established here, the current “Johannes Kepler Universität”. At the same time many cultural buildings sprang up: the Brucknerhaus Concert Hall, the southern wing of the “Landesmuseum” (provincial museum), the musical theater. In 2009 Linz was a cultural capital of Europe.

No other large Austrian city has experienced such dramatic economic, social and topographical transformations in the 20th century. It now has 198,500 inhabitants, whereby the number of workplaces it offers exceeds the size of its population. A large number of commuters, students and visitors enter and leave the city every day. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 its location at the intersection of European transport routes between East and West has again become advantageous. Another positive feature is the high educational level of its inhabitants. Today Linz presents itself as a modern industrial and cultural city.