187km (116 miles) NW of Vienna; 130km (81 miles) NE of Salzburg; 269km (167 miles) E of Munich

Linz, the provincial capital of Upper Austria, is the third-largest city in the country after Vienna and Graz. It's the biggest port on the Danube, which widens out considerably here to become a majestic thoroughfare. Three bridges connect Linz with the suburb of Urfahr, on the left bank of the river. If you enter the country from Passau, Germany, Linz will be your gateway to Austria.

Linz was the site of a Roman castle and settlement, Lentia, in the 1st century A.D. By the Middle Ages it had become a thriving center of trade because of its position on the river. Emperor Friedrich III lived here from 1489 to 1493. Now the city sits on a direct rail route linking the Adriatic and Baltic seas. It was here that Austria's first railroad terminated. Because of these factors, Linz became an industrial and manufacturing center, with blast furnaces and steel factories. Its industrial capacity was rapidly built up after Hitler seized Austria in 1938, and the Nazis later established chemical plants here. Unfortunately, Linz's industrial boom made it a frequent target of Allied bombing; it took years to repair the destruction rained upon the city.

Linz today is one of the leading cultural centers of Austria, although it doesn't rival Vienna or Salzburg. The city's name appears in numerous Germanic songs, and many notable figures have been connected with Linz, including native son and composer Anton Bruckner. Mozart dedicated a symphony to the city, and Beethoven wrote his Eighth Symphony here. Franz Schubert described with pleasure his holidays in Linz. Goethe, who had a romance with a Linz Fräulein, dedicated one of his most lyrical works "to the beautiful girls of Linz."