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Christmas tree rejected by Vatican to stand outside Viennas Rathaus

A Christmas tree rejected by the Vatican for being too sparse has found a home in the heart of Vienna.

The spruce which was taken from a forest in Lower Austria was intended for display on St Peter's Square in the Vatican City, but sent back home when the Vatican complained that its foliage was too thin.

The tree is between 110 and 120 years old. It is 32 metres high, weighs roughly 8 tonnes and comes from the Schwarzenbach im Pielachtal region in Lower Austria.

Mayor of Schwarzenbach im Pielachtal Ernst Kulovits said: "The spruce was first intended for the Vatican but it was a little too thin for St Peter's Square so they will now search for an alternative. However, it's perfect for the Rathaus Christmas market because it's tall, thin and robust."

Since 1959 it has been a tradition for the tree outside the Rathaus to come from a different Austrian state each year. Last year's tree was a 29 metre high, 80-year-old spruce from Burgenland.

This year's well-travelled tree is already standing outside Vienna's Rathaus, awaiting the opening of the Rathaus Christkindlmarkt on 17 November.  It will be illuminated at 5.30pm on this day, kicking off Vienna's Christmas market season.

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