Today, Austria is a modern state in Central Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa comprise numerous countries, each one embracing its own traditions and history while still retaining a strong and distinct common cultural identity.
Formerly, however, both regions were central parts of much larger empires, consisting of many nations, cultures and religions.
In the Middle Ages what is now Austria was part of the Holy Roman Empire, which comprised numerous kingdoms and principalities ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. From 1438 onwards, almost all emperors were members of the House of Habsburg, and they made Vienna the capital of the empire. The end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 led to the emergence of the Austrian Empire (after 1867 it was called the Austro-Hungarian Empire).
With the Ottoman Empire’s rise to power – it encompassed much of the Arab world – the two empires, which shared a border, were sometimes enemies and always in close contact. Both the Ottoman Empire and Austria included different lands and peoples of various cultures, languages and religions, so relations between them were diverse and multifaceted.
This exhibition was initiated by the Austrian Cultural Forum Cairo and curated by the Austrian historian Matthias Pfaffenbichler. Design by ARCHiNOS Architecture, Cairo.