The snow crunched under my feet as I turned the corner onto St. Stephen’s Square. The Cathedral, dominated the area. Medieval advertising – the insignia of the Hapsburg family – plastered the roof of the grand building. I stood with my hands in my pockets as I thought about the past.
For centuries Vienna has been one of the most important cities in Europe. In the medieval era, members of the Hapsburg family controlled an Empire that stretched from the borders of Austria, through Germany to the North Sea. Later, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand heralded the end of the line for the Hapsburgs and the descent of Europe into the flames of the First World War.
Since the end of the Second World War, Vienna once again found a place on the world stage, this time as the setting for a battle in the shadows waged by Cold War spies and more recently the secret services of the FSB and the counties of the European Union. That is not to mention the spy services of China, Israel and the US as disarmament talks drag on between the five nations and Iran.
trip to vienna in winter
The city is the perfect setting for such high drama. Vienna is a city grand old buildings, monumental palaces and large luxurious townhouses. Yet it also hosts modern glass fronted skyscrapers and the sprawling UN headquarters. The winter here is bleak, grey and cold. In Autumn the rain lashes across the streets, while the winter here is bleak, grey and cold.
I didn’t come to Vienna as a spy though. Neither did I come to the city to write a spy novel, I simply came here to enjoy the great food, the beautiful sites and the friendly people. Standing in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, I knew I had achieved one of those aims.