Follow Us:

The Ring, Vienna Ringstrasse

Vienna Parliament BuildingVienna Parliament Building View slideshow
The handsome Ringstrasse is a thoroughfare encircling the city center of Vienna. Going in a clockwise direction, it consists of the following sections: Stubenring, Parkring, Schubertring, Kärnterring, Opernring, Burgring, Dr-Karl-Renner-Ring, Dr-Karl-Lueger-Ring and Schottenring. The circle of the Ringstrasse is completed by the Fanz-Josef-Kai (quay) along the Danube Canal. The razing of the fortifications during Emperor Franz Joseph's reign made possible the laying out between 1858 and 1865 of a tree lined ceremonial way. Many large buildings were erected here in the second half of the 19th C., in the grandiose style that became known as the "Ringstrasse style". The Ringstrasse is 4km/2.5mi long and 57m/185ft wide. The ceremonial inauguration took place on May 1 1865. Its finest hour, however, was in 1879 when the artist Hans Makart mounted a parade with 10,000 participants in honor of the Imperial couple on the occasion of their Silver Wedding anniversary. The following buildings and parks are situated along the Ringstrase, going from Stubenring towards Schottenring: the Post Office Savings Bank by Otto Wagner; the Museum für Angewandte Kunst; the Stadpark; the Staatsoper; the Hofburg; the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistorisches Museum; the Volksgarten; the Parlament; the Rathaus; the Burgtheater; the University and the Votivkirche.

Museum of Art History (Fine Arts)

The Museum of Art History/Fine Arts in Vienna has a striking exterior marked by a bronze figure of Pallas Athene. Guided tours are available for visitors to see the extensive art collections in the museum.

Natural History Museum

Vienna's Natural History Museum was founded in the time of Maria Theresa. The various exhibits housed by the museum form one of the major natural history collections in Europe.

Vienna State Opera

Built in the early French Renaissance style, the Vienna State Opera House is one of the grandest theatres in the world. It features a different opera or ballet program on most evenings of the year.

National Theater

The history of the National Theater dates back to the late 1700s, although the current building was constructed in 1955. The interior is decorated in French Baroque style. Performances run from September to June.

Vienna Town Hall

An impressive building reflecting a Neo-Gothic architectural style, the Town Hall in Vienna stretches across 17000 square yards. The building is identified by the 'Rathausmann' that is found at the top of its tower.

Concert Hall

Concert Hall in Vienna.
The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Music Lovers' Society) was founded in 1812. In 1867 it commissioned Theophil Hansen - who later designed the Parlament building - to draw up plans for this building, the concert hall. The terracotta statues on the sienna-red Neo-Renaissance edifice are mainly by Franz Melnizki. Many prominent musicians perform in the "Golden Hall", and it is the home of the Viennese Philharmonic, which was formed in 1842 and whose legendary New Year Concert is televised from here all over the world. Gustav Mahler and Hugo Wolf once taught here, and such famous conductors as Furtwängler, Böhm, Karajan, Bernstein and Claudio Abbado have held their audiences entranced in these surroundings. The Golden Hall is decorated with 36 golden caryatids and boasts a magnificent coffered ceiling. It is 51.2m/165ft long, 18.9m/63ft wide and 17.6m/55ft high, and can seat an audience of 2,000. There is room for 400 musicians and is reckoned to be one of the world's best concert halls for acoustics. The organ which was installed in 1968 has 100 registers and 7,500 pipes. The "Music Lovers" also possess a comprehensive collection of items relating to the history of music and a vast store of over 300,000 musical scores.
Address: Lothringerstrasse 20, A-1037 Vienna, Austria

Snow Madonna Italian National Church

Snow Madonna Italian National Church 6120
The former Minorites' church has officially been named the Snow Madonna Italian National Church since 1786. It has been a Franciscan church since 1957. The first church of the "Frates Minores" in Vienna dates from 1230. It was a little chapel dedicated to the Holy Rood which twice burnt down. To replace it Duke Albrecht the Wise had the present Gothic aisle-less church built in the 14th C. In the course of rebuilding in the Baroque period between 1784 and 1789 Ferdinand von Hohenberg restored its Gothic appearance. Of particular architectural interest is the Gothic main portal, designed by Duke Albrecht's confessor, Father Jacobus in 1340-45. Inside can be seen Giacomo Raffaelli's copy in mosaic of Leonardo da Vinci's famous "Last Supper". It was commissioned by Napoleon I, who wanted to take the Milan original to Paris and replace it with the Vienna copy. After Napoleon's fall the Austrian court agreed to purchase the copy at a cost of 400,000 guilders. In 1845 it finally returned to the Minoritenkirche. The picture above the High Altar by Chr. Unterberger is also a copy; the original "Snow Madonna" is an object of veneration in the Esquiline in Rome.
Address: Minoritenplatz 2, Austria

Maria-Theresien-Platz and Memorial

The monument to Empress Maria Theresa is one of the most impressive in all Vienna. It dominates the square of the same name which is flanked by the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistorisches Museum. The square itself is laid out as a formal Baroque garden. It was Franz Joseph I who commissioned the sculptor Kaspar von Zumbusch to design the monument, and his work was unveiled in 1887. The Empress is seated on her throne, holding the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 in her left hand. She is surrounded by major personages of her day: the standing figures are State Chancellor Kaunitz, Prince Liechtenstein, Count Haugwitz and her physician, van Swieten, while Generals Daun, Laudon, Traun and Khevenhüller are on horseback. The high reliefs depict illustrious figures from the fields of politics, economics and the arts, including Haydyn, Gluck and the child prodigy, Mozart. On the southwest side of the lawned square the Messeplatz (Exhibition Square) leads to the Museum Quarter.

Parliament Building

Built between 1873 and 1883, the striking Parliament Buildings in Vienna have served as the venue for important national and federal meetings. The buildings feature interesting statues, carvings and reliefs.

Austrian Museum of Applied Art

Austrian Museum of Applied Art 6094
The commercial and industrial development of Austria is in no small measure attributable to the Museum of Applied Art. The buildings were erected when the former fortifications on Ringstrasse were being converted. The museum building, designed by Heinrich von Ferstel in 1871 in Italian Renaissance style, was completed by an extension in Weisskirchnerstrasse in 1909. Between 1989 and 1993 an expensive restructuring scheme was carried out. Modeled on the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert) in London, the Museum of Applied Art was founded in 1864 as the Austrian Museum of Art and Industry, with the object of promoting and documenting the development of contemporary arts and crafts through the study of old works of art. In 1868 a School of Arts and Crafts was added - now an independent College of Applied Art - offering a systematic training in these skills. Around the turn of the century the museum was reorganized, and the collections now comprise historical and contemporary items in equal proportions. Today it is one of the most important museums of applied art on the Continent of Europe. Incorporating the most modern ideas of climatic control and archive storage, the rebuilding and restructuring program completed in 1993 has further widened its sphere of activities. In May 1993 the new displays covered 11 rooms, and the Study Collection was opened at the end of 1993. In the same year the restored Library and an additional new Reading Room were handed over. Finally, in 1994, the new MAK Book Shop opened.
Painted in ultramarine blue by G. Förg, this room is devoted to the Romanesque vestments (c. 1260) from the Benedictine monastery of Göss in Styria, the only preserved collection of liturgical robes from such an early date, with costly silk embroidery. Boldly colored Renaissance majolica and a range of medieval furniture are also on display.
In the middle of this department a furnished room dated ca. 1740 from the Dubsky Palace in Brünn has been reconstructed. Further examples of 18th C. furniture-making include Austrian cabinets and small tables, commodes from Paris and tabernacle cupboards from south Germany with artistic inlay-work and gilded bronze mounts.
The Viennese centerpiece consisting of 60 groups of porcelain figures and vases was commissioned in 1768 for the golden jubilee of Abbott Rayner I, for which Joseph Haydn composed his "Applause"; the female singers can be seen represented as allegorical figures in the centerpiece.
Examples of applied art techniques of the 16th-18th C. include needlework and lace-work from Venice and Brussels and beautiful Bohemian and Venetian glass (room designed by Franz Graf).
The effects of the Industrial Revolution in the first half of the 19th C. were reflected in the increasing number of consumer goods produced, ranging from luxury items to cheaper, mass- produced goods. The vast variations in form are seen from the many different types of furniture and crockery (room designed by Jenny Holzer).
The late 19th C. is represented by the aesthetic work in wood, innovatively economic in its method of construction, by the successful furniture designer Michael Thonet. Beechwood furniture designed by the Thonet brothers won international acclaim and became a familiar sight in many coffee houses in Vienna (room designed by Barbara Bloom).
The highlights of the valuable collection of oriental carpets are the 16th and 17th C. knotted carpets (room designed by Gang Art).
The star exhibit is G. Klimt's cartoons for the dining-room frieze in the Palais Stoclet in Brussels (1911). When the museum was being redesigned the builders uncovered the frieze designed in Glasgow in 1911 by Margaret Macdonald, the wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh of Glasgow, for Fritz Waerndorfer's villa. Also of note are the writing desk by K. Moser, decorative vases by J. Hoffmann and a rose-water sprinkler by Louis Comfort Tiffany (room designed by Eichinger and Knecht).
The exhibits are inherited from the Vienna Studio, formed in 1903 by Hoffman, Moser and Waerndorfer in order to create functional as well as decorative objects in line with changing tastes. Initially strictly geometric in design, ornamental fantasy subsequently plays an increasingly important part in the forms of the furniture, vases and tableware produced (room designed by Heimo Zobernig).
The Architectural Department documents new constructional ideas and idealistic concepts, including plans and models by the Austrians Himmelblau, Domenig, Pruscha and Richter and the Americans Frank Gehry and Lebeus Woods. There are exemplary furniture designs by Pichler, Eichinger, Starck and Morrison (room design by Manfred Wakolbinger).
The museum's specialized library has grown out of a private library owned by its first director, Rudolf von Eitelberger (1817-85), which was expanded following generous gifts from the nobility, the Court and major manufacturing firms. Today the library boasts some 150,000 volumes, including valuable manuscripts, incunabula and tracts from the Renaissance to the 19th C., as well as literature on all aspects of applied art dating from the 18th to the 20th C.
This collection includes more than 500,000 prints, including some magnificent ornamental specimens from the 15th to the 18th C., pattern books from the Vienna Porcelain Factory, Japanese painted wood-carvings and the famous "Hamza Nama" - a 16th C. Mongolian romance and a unique example of Indo-Persian book-illumination.
The new reading-room offers an open-shelf reference library, magazines and publications relating to contemporary architecture.
Designed by Peter Noever, this bright room on the second floor (not included in the plan) houses the collection of contemporary art commenced in 1986. It includes works by Brus, Eichinger, Gironcoli, Frank, Donald Judd, Jürgennsen, Knizak, Kowanz, Kupelwieser, Leitner, Mark, Rainer, Schlegel, Schwarzkogler, Turrell, Weigand and Wurm, as well as architectural designs by Himmelblau, Domenig, Gehry and Woods.
Examples illustrating the study and interpretation of chair design are on display, as well as select examples of candlesticks, drinking vessels and tea-pots in metal. The Glass and Porcelain Study Collection, broken down into historical periods, provides an insight into the history of hollow glassware and glass-painting from the Middle Ages to more recent times, with the Augarten Porcelain Factory providing the highlights. The Textile Collection includes liturgical vestments and explains the stylistic and technical developments in textile production from the 13th to the 20th C. The East Asian Collection comprises Kangxi porcelain from the collection of Augustus the Strong, 14th C. Chinese porcelain and burial objects from the Han dynasty (AD 25-220).
There is a permanent study collection on display that shows a cross-section of the holdings of the textiles collection. The collection goes back to the eighth C. with the emphasis being on ecclesiastical vestments.
The museum is also known locally as the MAK.
Address: Stubenring 5, A-1010 Vienna, Austria

Austrian Museum of Folk Art

The Folk Museum, founded in 1895 by the Austrian Folklore Society, has been housed since 1917 in the former Schönborn Palais. The palace was built by J. L. von Hildebrandt and F. Jänggl between 1706 and 1711, and the Classical facade added in 1770, probably by Isidor Canevale. The display rooms were restored in 1992-94 and portray the lives and traditions of the inhabitants of the Alpine and Danubian regions from Lake Constance to the Neusiedler See near the Austro-Hungarian border. There are models, pictures and plans illustrating different types of houses and farms, traditional interiors with country furniture and utensils, farming and craftwork, costumes, as well as jewelry and musical instruments from the 16th to the 19th C. Also explained are marriage customs, religious life in the Middle Ages and the Baroque period, popular art in Vorarlberg and the Tyrol, the guild system, puppets, religious life and pilgrimages and the making of masks, gingerbread men and Christmas cribs.
A variety of changing exhibitions, including textiles and folk costumes, can be found in the museum.
Address: Laudongasse 15-19, A-1080 Vienna, Austria

Burggarten

Burggarten 6096
In 1809 Napoleon had the bastions of the Burg blown up which meant that at last there was room for an Imperial garden, generally called the "Promenade". Later the Neue Burg was erected on part of the site. The Burggarten has been open to the public since 1919. In the park stand famous monuments to Mozart, Francis I and Franz Joseph I. The Mozart Memorial of 1896 is a master work in marble by Victor Tilgner. The plinth is embellished with the various members of the Mozart family and with two reliefs from "Don Giovanni". The monument used to stand in Albertina Platz, was seriously damaged in the last war, taken away and then in 1953, after full restoration re-erected in the Burggarten. The equestrian statue of the Emperor Francis I, by Moll, was erected in 1781 in the Paradiesgartel on the bastion. It was later moved to the present spot. During the Emperor's lifetime Vienna had no statue of Franz Joseph I, and then the Republic was not interested in erecting one. This memorial was erected as late as 1957, almost as an act of subversion. To general surprise, there were no unfortunate political consequences.

Church of the Holy Trinity

The Dreifaltigkeitskirche, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is commonly called the "Alserkirche" in Vienna. It stands opposite the front of the General Hospital, and sick people and those on the way to recovery used to hang thousands of votive tablets in the cloister and in the Anthony Chapel. The church, which was completed in 1727 was taken over by the Minorites in 1784. In its exterior form it is an Early Baroque building with a facade flanked by twin towers and a high domed roof. The interior of the church dates primarily from the 18th and 19th C. An exception to this generalization is a 16th C. wooden Crucifix larger than life-size and the "Weeping Madonna" by the Spanish Baroque Master, Pedro de Mena y Mendrano. He carved this bust out of mahogany and pine in 1662-63; it may be seen in the Johann Nepomunk Chapel. On March 29 1827 the body of Beethoven was brought to this church. One year later, just a few weeks before his own death, Schubert wrote the hymn "Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung" (Faith, Love and Hope) for the consecration of the church's bells.
Address: Alserstrasse 17, Austria

Votivkirche

Votivkirche 6164
The prebendal church Zum Göttlichen Heiland (The Divine Savior) was built as a votive offering after the abortive attempt in 1853 to assassinate Franz Joseph I. Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, Franz Joseph's brother, who was later to become Emperor of Mexico, led the way in raising the necessary finance. Heinrich Ferstel chose the Neo-Gothic style, in imitation of the French Gothic cathedrals, and the chancel is one of the best examples of 19th C. historically-inspired architecture. The church possesses several important works of art. In the baptistery in the south transept can be seen Count Niklas Salm's Renaissance sepulchre (1530-33) surmounted by a recumbent figure of the Count (commander during the first Turkish siege in 1529) and with 12 superb reliefs on the sides; it is a product of Loy Hering's workshops. In the side chapel in the south transept the important 15th C. Antwerp Altar is beautifully carved and contains scenes from the Passion. In a niche in the north transept is a copy of Our Lady of Guadeloupe which serves as a reminder of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, the church's first protector.
Address: Rooseveltplatz 8, Austria

Vienna City Park

Statue of Johann Strauss in Vienna City Park.
The two parts of the Vienna City Park are linked by bridges over the Danube. It covers an area of 11.4ha/28 acres. In 1857 Franz Joseph I instigated the creation of a garden where the old fortifications went down to the water's edge, judging the site to be "well suited to embellishment". The landscape gardener Dr Siebeck carried through the plans drawn up by the landscape artist Josef Szelleny. The gardens were opened in 1862, and the Spa Pavilion - where waltz concerts are now held from Easter to the end of October - in 1867. In the part of the park nearest to the city center stand monuments to the painters Hans Canon, Emil Schundler, Hans Makart and Friedrich von Amerling, to the composers Johann Strauss the Younger, Franz Schubert and Anton Bruckner, as well as to Anton Zelinka, the founding mayor. The "Donauweibchenbrunnen" (The Spring with the Sprite of the Danube) is a copy; the original stands in the Historisches Museum.

Museum Quarter

Beethoven Monument

The Beethoven Monument is the work of the Westphalian sculptor Kaspar von Zumbusch and dates from 1880. It stands in a little square in front of the Akademisches Gymnasium, one of the oldest and best humanistic schools in Vienna founded by the Jesuits in 1552, and former pupils include Arthur Schnitzler and Peter Altenberg. At the feet of the seated figure of the composer may be seen Prometheus in chains with the eagle pecking at his flesh. On the right stands Victory proffering a triumphal wreath, and all round are nine putti, representing Beethoven's nine symphonies. Formerly Beethoven's statue faced away from the River Wien, but since the little river was covered over it has faced the water.

Old Bakehouse

From 1701 to 1963 Austrian specialties such as Kaiserschmarrn were baked in the old bakehouse and even today the aroma of fresh croissants, bread rolls and strudel is still inviting. Since 1965 it has been partly an offshoot of the Josefstadt Regional Museum with displays illustrating the crafts and trades of the area and partly a unique gastronomical business.
All sorts of objects connected with baking are on show - dough troughs, weights, measures and the old baking ovens. These all date from 1701. It was at that period that a well-to-do baker built for himself one of the finest Baroque houses in Vienna. The bakery has been restored meticulously to its original form, and a cafe has been installed here.

University

University 6163
The University buildings in Vienna were erected during the period when the Ringstrasse was being developed. The plans were by Heinrich Ferstel, who took inspiration from the Italian Renaissance style, the era which ushered in the "Golden Age" of European science. The buildings were opened in 1884 and renovated in 1953 and 1965. In the arcaded central courtyard will be found monuments to famous university lecturers, including Anton Bruckner, Gerhard von Swieten, Theodor von Billroth, Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Ludwig Boltzmann, Anton von Eselsberg, Philipp Semmelweiss, Sigmund Freud and the Nobel prize-winners Karl Landsteiner and Julius Wagner-Jauregg.
Address: Dr-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1, A-1010 Wien, Austria

Vienna Monument

In 1986, to celebrate and honor the second centenary of the Viennese garrison regiment, the K. and K. Hoch- und Deutschmeister Nr. 4 (The Fourth Royal and Imperial High and German Masters), money was raised for a memorial. It was inaugurated in 1906.
Johann Benk made the bronze figures. Under an ensign bearing the standard of the regiment are gathered "Vindobono" and "Landshut grenadier" and the "true comrade". Two reliefs recall the regiment's baptism of fire at Zenta in 1696 and the Battle of Kolin of 1757.
On November 1 1918 Egon Erwin Kisch formed the "Red Guard" in front of this memorial.

Sightseeing Nearby:

You may also be interested in:

More on PlanetWare