AUG 12,2011 - AUG 12,2011 (1 DAYS)
Maria-Theresien-Platz to Michaelerplatz:
Main Attractions: Maria-Theresien-Platz, Naturhistorisches Museum, Volkstheater, Volksgarten, Schmerlingplatz, Palais Auersperg, Palais Epstein, the Parliament, Reichsratsstraße, Rathausplatz, Rathaus, Rathauspark, Burgtheater, Palais Ferstel, Ferstel / Freyung Passage, Freyung Platz, Palais Kinsky,Cafe Central, Herrengasse, Michaelerplatz (Michaelerkirche, Michaelertract, Michaelertor, Looshaus).
Start: Maria-Theresien-Platz. It is easy to reach by the U Bahn using the Volkstheater stop or by tram; it is also a transfer point for the hop-on hop-off tour buses. On one side of the square is the Naturhistorisches (Natural History) Museum, and on the other side is the Kunsthistorisches (Fine Arts) Museum. Across the Burgring is the Hofburg Complex, and across the Museum Platz is the Museums Quartier Wien. By subway - U2 “Museumsquartier” , U3 “Volkstheater”, Tram D, 1, 2, Bus 2A, 57A “Burgring”.
End: Michaelerplatz (adjacent, north side of the Hofburg).
Duration: 1/2 - 1 day.
Distance: 5-6 km.
Maria-Theresien-Platz is a large, green square that joins the Ringstraße (Burgring) with the Museumsplatz and the Museumsquartier (Museums Quarter). Facing each other from the sides of the square are two identical buildings: the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) (see a separate blog dedicated to this wonderful museum) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum). The buildings are near identical, except for the statuary on their façades. The Naturhistorisches' façade has statues depicting personifications of the various continents known to Austrian science at the time—Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The monumental buildings mirror each other; they have the same neo-Renaissance design with large domes, a creation of the renowned German architect Gottfried Semper. The interior of the museums - designed by Carl von Hasenauer - is sumptuous, and features an abundance of marble stairs, statues and columns. The building south of the square houses the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) and the building opposite is home to the Naturhistorisches Museum (Museum of Natural History).
America and Australia:
The Kunsthistorisches façade features famous European artists, such as the Dutch Bruegel, among others:
With the demolition of the fortifications around Vienna the opportunity arose to create a new monumental royal complex. By 1870 an ambitious design by Gottfried Semper, dubbed the Kaiserforum, was approved. Construction of this Kaiserforum started the following year and consisted of the creation of two museum buildings as well as two new palace wings (of which only one was eventually completed) - the Neue Burg - and two squares: Heldenplatz and Maria-Theresien-Platz. Plans to connect the two squares across the newly created Ringstrasse by two triumphal arches were never realized due to the outbreak of the First World War.
The area between the two museums is laid out with formal gardens that are decorated with statues, fountains and shrub beds. At the center of the square is a large statue depicting Empress Maria Theresa, namesake of the square - first woman to hold the throne (reigned for forty years, 1740-1780), she supported the arts, reinforced the economy and the military status of the empire. She married for love and had 16 children, the most famous of all being Marie Antoinette (wife of French king Louis XVI and beheaded during the French Revolution). The monument, created in 1888 by Kaspar Zumbusch, shows Maria Theresa seated on top of a large pedestal supported on all sides by Corinthian columns. She is holding a scroll with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, an edict issued by Emperor Charles VI that allowed women to ascend the throne. It is remarkable how similar her repose is in this statue to another long-lived European queen, Victoria of England (her statue opposite Buckingham Place). The empress is surrounded by some of her closest advisors. Four of her generals (von Daun, von Khevenhüller, Traun and von Laudon) are shown on horseback. Von Kaunitz, the chancellor of state, Van Swieten, her physician, Liechtenstein, director of the artillery forces and count von Haugwitz, who reformed the economy and strengthened central authority are shown standing near the pedestal. Habsburg splendor, majesty and harmony at their best. It is a great area to enjoy the weather. The statues and the manicured gardening beds are great for taking pictures:
In addition to the monument to Empress Maria Theresa at the square, you will also find a series of four fountain pools with marble statues, each surrounded by large manicured shrubs. There are park benches, found at each fountain as well if you want to have a rest before or after visiting one of the nearby museums:
The Naturhistorisches Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the square adjoining them were built in 1889. The Naturhistorisches Museum houses displays of butterflies and other insects, and an extensive preserved and stuffed animal collection, the most poignant examples of which include a Przewalskii's horse, a baby Javanese rhinoceros, and a case of dodo remains. Also notable is the museum's famous Mikrotheater, showing slides of microscopic organisms, its two spider crabs which were sent to Emperor Franz Joseph by the Japanese Emperor as a gift, and the first ever human depiction of an underwater scene made from life observation and the diving bell from which it was made. The stairwell contains paintings of Emperor Franz Joseph, Empress Maria Theresa and her stuffed pet lap dog, a miniature hound. The current building was completed in 1889. Today it houses a collection of about 30 million specimens and artifacts. Its collections were founded in 1750 by Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine, the husband of Maria Theresa. Like the Kunsthistorisches Museum - the Naturhistorisches Museum building is great and on its own a reason to come and visit. Be prepared - you can easily spend half or even a full day here. There is plenty to keep you occupied, many interesting exhibits. Also an interesting exhibition on the top floor about the Chernobyl disaster in Russia.
Opening times: THU-MON: 9.00 - 18.30, WED: 9.00 - 21.00. Tuesday: closed. closed: Dec. 25, Jan. 1. Admission: Children and youth under 19 - free, Adults - € 10, Senior citizens - € 8, Students - € 5. Audioguide € 2:
The Venus of Willendorf:
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is described, in detail, in my separate blog "Vienna - Museum of Fine Arts - Kunsthistorisches Museum: 7th heaven for art lovers:
From the Nature History Museum head southwest, turn right toward Museumsplatz and the Volkstheater ("People's Theatre") is on your left. One of the prettiest buildings in Vienna! The Volkstheater station of lines U2 and U3 of the Vienna U-Bahn is located here:
The Volkstheater is located in Neubau, the seventh district of Vienna. It is often said to be the "biggest theatre in the German-speaking world". The Volkstheater was founded in 1889 by request of the citizens of Vienna, amongst them the dramatist Ludwig Anzengruber and the furniture manufacturer Thonet, in order to offer a popular counter weight to the Hofburgtheater. Like the Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, the Vienna Volkstheater was built by the architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer. The founders of this stage had a theatrical stage in mind, in order to expose wider circles of the population of Vienna to classical and modern literature whilst staging these next to more traditional plays. The theatre follows this tradition even today. Nowadays, the repertoire of the Volkstheater includes Austrian as well as German and international classics. Other focal points are comedies and musicals. Most of the time you can't get inside for a tour. To see its interior come to a concert, opera, musical or a play on stage in the evenings. It is incredibly nice under the decorative lighting. The Voklsteather is perfect for the operas you if have time at Vienna:
From the Volkstheater head northwest on Museumsplatz toward Bellariastraße. Turn right onto Bellariastraße and walk 230 m. Turn right onto Burgring and turn left onto the Volksgarten. The Volksgarten (People's Garden) is a public park, part of the Hofburg Palace. It was laid out by Ludwig Remy in 1821. The Volksgarten area was originally used for fortifications. Between 1596 to 1597, a fortress wall was built on the eastern side of park. In 1639, additional fortifications were built on the southern side. In 1809, these fortifications were destroyed by Napoleon's French troops. Between 1817 and 1821, the area near Ballhausplatz square was converted to gardens originally intended for a private garden for the archdukes. These plans were changed through a proposal by the court garden administration to turn the area into the first public park in the city. On 1 March 1823, the park was officially opened. Starting in 1825, the name Volksgarten was commonly used. In 1862, the gardens were extended toward Ringstraße after the city moat had been filled in. The park includes, if you're in Vienna in the right season, stunning rose garden:
At the center of the park is the Theseus Temple, a replica of the Temple of Hephaestus (Theseion) in the Ancient Agora of Athens. The temple was originally built between 1820 and 1823 by Peter von Nobile, an Austrian architect. It originally housed the statue 'Theseus and the Minotaur' by Antonio Canova. The statue is now missing; in 1890 it was moved to the
staircase inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum shortly after the museum opened:
The Cortisches coffee house was built between 1820 and 1823, also by Peter Nobile. Austrian Romantic composers Johann Strauss I and Joseph Lanner performed here. On 10 March 1867, Johann Strauss II conducted the first performances of his Donauwalzer. The Cafè Meirei was built in 1890, originally as a water reservoir. In 1924, it was converted to the Milchtrinkhalle. The Milchpavillon was built in 1951 by Oswald Haerdtl:
At the northern end of the park stands the Empress Elizabeth (“Sissi”) Monument by Hans Bitterlich and Friedrich Ohmann, completed in 1907. At the center of the monument is a statue of a seated Empress Elisabeth by Hans Bitterlich. The dedication of the monument took place on 4 June 1907 in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria:
At the other end of the park is a monument honoring Franz Grillparzer, created in 1889 by Karl Kundmann. It shows a statue of the poet and playwright Grillparzer in an exedra flanked by reliefs depicting scenes from his plays:
Head southwest on Volksgarten toward Burgring, to exit from the southernmost edge of the park. Turn right onto Burgring, continue onto Doktor-Karl-Renner-Ring and turn left onto Schmerlingplatz. It is named in 1893 after the politician Anthony Von Schmerling:
You can't miss, here, the Palais Auersperg, originally called Palais Rosenkavalier, which is a baroque palace at Auerspergstraße 1. It was in Palais Auersperg, built in 1710 according to plans by Lukas von Hildebrandt, that the six-years-old W. A. Mozart leapt onto the lap of Empress Maria Theresia. Later, he and other famous composers premièred their masterpieces in this magnificent setting, and Emperor Franz Josef and his wife Sisi danced there at resplendent balls. The pale pink and green marbled walls and the sparkling crystal chandeliers also inspired Hugo von Hofmannstahl to write his libretto for "Der Rosenkavalier". With this famous opera, Richard Strauss gave Palais Auersperg and its illustrious guests a memorial for posterity. In our time it has been used as a shooting location for numerous films, including the world-famous "The Third Man". In the beginning of 2006 the Palais was sold again to an old European family. The State Apartments remained the same and are still used for musical purposes. In the upper floor most areas have been changed into office rooms. In the next few years the Palais will be restored and a small museum is planned. Currently the Palais is used for balls and musical events of various kinds; it has eleven rooms and can accommodate up to 1000 guests. You can visit here only during musical events (Vienna Residence Orchestra):
In the west side of Schmerlingplatz stands the Palace of Justice (Schmerlingplatz 10-11). The Palace of Justice (German: Justizpalast) is the seat of the Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof) of Austria. The Neo-Renaissance building erected from 1875 to 1881. In addition to the Supreme Court, the Palace of Justice houses the Higher Regional Court of Vienna and the Regional Court for Civil Matters Vienna and the General Prosecution and the Supreme Public Prosecutor for Vienna:
Palais Epstein, Doktor-Karl-Renner-Ring 3 is in the eastern side of chmerlingplatz. It was built for the industrialist and banker Gustav Ritter von Epstein. The architect was Theophil Freiherr von Hansen, who also designed the adjacent Austrian Parliament Building. Unlike traditional Baroque noble palaces in Vienna, the Palais Epstein was built in the late 19th century and is therefore considered a Ringstraßenpalais. It is up to five storeys high and built in the neo-renaissance style typical of its time. Following the Gründerkrach (i.e. "Founders' Crash", the 9 May 1873 crash of the Vienna Stock Exchange) Epstein had to sell the palais to the Imperial Continental Gas Association, an English gas company, to avoid bankruptcy. In 1902 it was acquired by the State and used as domicile of the Administrative Court. After conversions it became home to the Vienna School Authority in 1922. Following the Anschluss it housed offices of the Reichsstatthalter's building authorities. From 1945 to 1955 the Palais Epstein was domicile of the Soviet Headquarters. After that, it briefly served as a branch of the Academy of Music and Performing Arts and then again for the School Authority until 2002. After a thorough refurbishment it has been a branch of nearby Parliament ever since. A permanent exhibition about the history of the palais and its owners has been set up in the basement and there are guided tours of the bel etage first floor which has been restored to its original state. Guided Tours Palais Epstein: Groups of 10 people on demand. Start of the guided tour is at the Parliament Visitor’s Center. Combination tickets for guided tours of Parliament and Palais Epstein are available (admission: 8 €). Mid-September until mid-July (except on days when parliament is in session): MON - THU: 11.00 , 14.00, 15.00, 16.00, FRI: 11.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00, SAT: 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00. Mid-July until mid-September (except on days when parliament is in session):
MON - SAT: 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00:
The Austrian Parliament building is a bit north to Schmerlingplatz (see Tip below). We devote a special Tip (below) to this wonderful construction between the Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Palace of Justice.
From the Parliament complex head north on Reichsratsstraße toward Rathausplatz and continue straight onto Rathausplatz:
The town square in front of Vienna's city hall is called "Rathausplatz". Rathausplatz is an amazing place. A masterpiece of architecture. One of the greatest city halls, with the statues of all the mayors along the path, leading to its main entrance. The square is busy all the year round. During the Summer are various local fairs, with wine and food stalls. There are so many reasonable choices of cuisines to choose from. Every summer, from the end of June until the beginning of September, the square in front of Vienna’s City Hall becomes a nightly tribute to the city’s status as a global music capital, by playing host to the vibrant Rathausplatz Music Film Festival. Every evening at dusk, a different music-centric film plays on a giant screen displayed above the square. The selection is diverse—from operas to ballets to jazz to rock concerts—which can be refreshing for those worn out by Vienna’s constant onslaught of classical. The festival doesn’t just offer audio delights either—a wide selection of international cuisine is available daily from 11 a.m. until midnight. Provided by twenty of the top restaurateurs in the city, the aim is to provide a “culinary world tour” for festival-goers. There is a Christmas market (Adventmarkt and Silvesterpfad) from mid-November to the New Year. Every year there is an ice-skating rink (Wiener Eistraum) in the early months of the year. The range of events put on by the municipality is phenomenal. Vienna is to be applauded for producing such excellent entertainment for its people and for the tourists. Enjoy visiting Rathausplatz at night - allowing outstanding views of the Rathaus building when it is illuminated with floodlights:
On your right is the Rathaus. A Gothic structure that was built between 1873-1883. It is well served by trams though slightly less so by U-Bahn as the station entrance is tucked away a couple of minutes behind the Rathaus. The Rathaus is a very beautiful town hall on one side of the Ringstrasse and a definite must see; on the other side is the Burgtheater which is much less imposing. In the night, it is very nice lighted. Building with stunning fairy-tale details and wonderful symmetry, especially backlit by the setting sun. The free building tour, little under a hour, is offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 13.00. The tour is in German only but they will give you an audio guide in English, French, Spanish or Italian with a photo ID. The guide takes you around the huge building (don't try this if you can't do stairs) and tells you what number to listen to on your audio guide while he speaks in German. A couple of beautiful rooms to see. Pay particular attention to the fine wood ceilings and to the gorgeous chandeliers:
The entrance to the Wappensäle in the Rathaus is via Feststiege II (festive staircase II) in Lichtenfelsgasse 2:
The Rathauspark is on the eastern side of the Rathausplatz. About 20 food and beverage stands in the center with plenty of seating. The green areas of the Platz have a huge number of wooden benches. THere would be never lack for a seat. Several nice statues.
From the Rathausplatz head east, turn right toward Josef-Meinrad-Platz and walk 100 m. crossing the Universitatsring. Turn left to arrive to the
Burgtheater, Universitätsring 2. After the Comédie Francaise, the Burgtheater in Vienna is Europe’s second-oldest theatre. Today, the Burgtheater, originally known as the K. K. Hoftheater nächst der Burg, complete with its three affiliated venues – the Akademietheater, Kasino and Vestibül – and a permanent ensemble of more than 80 actors and actresses, is one of Europe’s largest theatres and plays a major role in the German-speaking theatrical world. Every season, the Burgtheater and its affiliated venues welcome approximately 400,000 theatre-goers to some 800 performances. The stage of the Burgtheater is one of the biggest theatre stages in the world. The main stage is 28,5m wide, 23m deep and 28m high. At the opening in 1888 the stage technology was already innovatory and has been modernized on many occasions. During the reconstruction after World War II, which was accomplished in 1955, a stage equipment was installed that is still revolutionary today. The revolving stage consists of a rotating cylinder and four hydraulic lifts. With the help of this technical features the scenery can be changed within 40 seconds. It is the biggest automatic and computer controlled stagesystem in Europe. The Burgtheater auditorium holds 1175 seats, it has standing room for 84 visitors and 12 places for disabled visitors. Apart from the stage-art the Burgtheater plays an important part in architecture and interior design of the 19th century in Vienna. The magnificent decoration, especially the two imperial staircases painted by Gustav Klimt, his brother Ernst Klimt and their companion Franz Matsch as well as the main foyer and the many statues, busts and paintings of famous writers and actors can be visited during a daily guided tour. Opening hours: The programme is published on www.burgtheater.at on the 1st of each month for the following month. The Burgtheater and all its four venues are closed during July and August. All plays and performances are in German language, if not indicated otherwise. Ticket sale & information: Beginning on the 20th of each month, the ticket sales start for the following month. (e.g. the ticket sale for Novemer starts on the 20th of october). Ticket Prices:
Burgtheater & Akademietheater: EUR 5 / 8 / 12 / 19 / 27 / 35 / 43 / 51
Standing room EUR 2,50. Burgtheater ticket office: Phone: +43 (0)1 51444-4440, Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien. Last Minute and Reduced Ticket: For designated performances: one hour prior to the performance all remaining tickets can be bought 25% off the full price (as marked on the online-schedule or at the box office, except matinees and special events). Reduced tickets for 8€ are available at the ticket offices for students, apprentices and unemployed (necessary identity card).
Guided Tour „Burgtheater – behind the scenes“ - SEP-JUN only: Daily 15.00. (Subject to change), MON - THU: 15.00 in German with English summary. FRI - SUN: 15.00. German and English. Admission (SEP-JUN):
Adults EUR 6,50, Seniors EUR 5,50, Students EUR 3,-, Children EUR 3,-.
Guided Tours „Burgtheater – behind the scenes“ - JUL – AUG only: Daily 15.00 German and English. Admission (JUL-AUG): Adults EUR 5,50, Seniors EUR 4,50, Students EUR 2,-, Children EUR 2,-.
Meeting Point: in the hall at the main entrance
Duration: 50 minutes. No registration required. Ticket sale 15 minutes prior to guided tour.
Information and Contact
Phone +43(0) 1 514 44-4140
Fax: +43(0) 1 514 44-4143
Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien
From Josef-Meinrad-Platz, in the south side of Burgtheater - head east on toward Löwelstraße, 65 m. Continue straight onto Löwelstraße, 17 m. Continue onto Bankgasse, 230 m. Turn right onto Herrengasse, 98 m and
turn left onto Strauchgasse. The Palais Ferstel is in Strauchgasse 4. The famous Palais Ferstel is located in one of the oldest districts of Vienna, the Palais Quarter in the 1st district. Palais Ferstel is one of the most interesting buildings belonging to the Wilhelminian Era and by 1900 formed the social centre of Vienna comprising of its Café Central, ballrooms and salon areas. The large Ferstel ballroom, together with the arcade courtyard and side rooms, form an elegant and stylish setting. The building originally housed the Austro-Hungarian National Bank and the Stock Exchange as well as bazaar and a café popular with artists and men of letters. The palace was built in the 1850s to plans provided by the architect Heinrich von Ferstel. This prestigious building in the style of those put up along the Ringstrasse boulevard still catches the eye today because of the use of Venetian and Florentine elements in its design:
Head northeast on Strauchgasse toward Heidenschuß, 94 m and turn left onto Freyung Platz. A pretty, triangular historic square surrounded by imposing Baroque palaces. In the centre is a large fountain topped with a figure representing Austria. At its base four other figures symbolizing the principal rivers of the past Austro-Hungarian territory: – the Danube, Elbe, Po and Vistula:
In the north-west edge of the Freyung square stands a beautiful baroque building which turned out to be a Palace. Palace Kinsky (Freyung # 4)was originally built in 1717 for Count Wirich Philipp von Daun who was Austrian field marshal in the war of the Spanish succession. His son Leopold Josef Graf Daun became a field marshal of Empress Maria Theresa. In 1784, the Bohemian Kinsky family bought the Palace. The yellow-white façade happens to be on the narrow side of the Palace, it goes back much further in depth (to the west). At the main entrance there are two arcs which enclose the central window, and two allegorical figures: on the left - the wisdom and on the right - the justice. The emblem of the Kinsky is situated over the window. The interior is richly-decorated, has a lovely staircase, frescoed ceilings, mirrors and statues and expensive parquet floors. The Palace was used for the final-status negotiations between Serbian and Kosovo Albanians in EU-sponsored negotiations. The palace is used for auction events, houses shops and a restaurant:
At Freyung # 3 is one of Vienna's oldest palaces, the Palais Harrach, built around 1600. It has a magnificent gold Coat of Arms above the arched entrance:
Other palaces around: Hardegg (Freyung 1), Lamber (Freyung 5), Ferstel (Freyung 2 - see above), Schönborn-Batthyány (Renngasse 4), and Windisch-Graetz (Renngasse 12). Renngasse is to the north-east of Freyung square. Opposite the Palais Kinsky stands the Schottenstift or Schottenkloster (Scottish Monastery). The monastery goes back to the 12th c. and is called although the monks were Irish. In that time these monks were called "Iro-Schotten". It was founded in Vienna in 1155 when Henry II of Austria brought Irish monks to Vienna. The Baroque church we see now is from 1648:
South to Palais Ferstel and Freyung Platz is the Freyung Passage, on Strauchgasse, home to Café Central - a Viennese institution, corner Strauchgasse / Herrengasse. The marble-clad passage with pilasters and vaulted ceiling, was built by an Austrian Architect in 1860. It contains luxury stores with beautiful window displays. ,detailed wrought iron, painted ceilings and lovely old lamps - all make made this one classy passage-way ! Inside, in a small inner courtyard covered by a hexagonal glass dome, there is a tall fountain was in the centre with a statue of the Danube water nymph (Donaunixen), who is holding a fish in her hand:
This famous traditional Central café with its 130 year history was first opened in 1876 and at the turn of the 20th century it was a popular meeting point for leading lights in the world of art, literature, politics and science such as Arthur Schnitzler, Sigmund Freud, Peter Altenberg and Leo Trotzki ( once met with his fellow socialists). Then, like today, the legendary literature café was a meeting point for all ages. The fountain here has a statue of the Donaunixen (Danube water-nymph), with a fish in her hand:
The Freyung Passage links the square of the same name with Herrengasse, one of Vienna’s most atmospheric streets. This is a lovely area for a stroll, as little back streets provide contrast with the grand town palaces that line the wider ones such as Herrengasse (see below) and offer surprises at every turn. There are several small courtyards with smart shops and equally smart cafés, and you could easily while away a couple of hours in this part of the city.
We walk along Herrengasse with our face to the south. The section of the street between the Freyung and Lobkowitzplatz squares was known during the Middle Ages as Hochstraße (High Street). After Vienna began to establish itself as the imperial capital, the nobility (known in German as Herren or Lords) increasingly migrated to the city to be close to the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the residence of the Habsburg rulers. There are several palaces along our way in Herrengasse:
Palais Herberstein (built in 1897, at Herrengasse 1-3). Built in 1896-1897. It replaced an older structure, Palais Dietrichstein, which was famous for its Café Griensteidl, where a group of young poets and writers known as Jung-Wien gathered on a regular basis. After the café was demolished, they moved to the nearby Café Central, now the most famous of all cafés in Vienna. In 1990 a new, reconstructed Griensteidl Café opened in Palais Herberstein,
Palais Wilczek (former Palais Lembruch, 1737, Herrengasse 5),
Palais Modena (today Federal Ministry of the Interior, 1811, Herrengasse 7),
Palais Mollard-Clary (1689, Herrengasse 9) (see next paragraph),
Palais Niederösterreich (formerly Niederösterreichisches Landeshaus, Herrengasse 13),
Palais Ferstel (formerly Österreichisch-ungarische Bank, 1856–1860, Herrengasse 14, entrance also at Freyung 2) (see above),
Palais Batthyány (integrates parts of the former Palais Orsini-Rosenberg, 1716, Herrengasse 19),
Palais Trauttmannsdorff (1834–1838, Herrengasse 21),
Palais Porcia (1546, Herrengasse 23).
Further south, in this road, on your right is Palais Mollard-Clary, Herrengasse 9. A Baroque palace, built from 1686 to 1689 for Count Mollard (Reichsgraf von Mollard). In 1760, it was bought by Count Franz Wenzel von Clary-Aldringen. Emperor Joseph II held his famous "round tables" here. Since 2005 it has been used by the Austrian National Library and houses the Globe Museum, the Department of Music and the Department of Planned Languages and Esperanto Museum:
The Herrengasse ends, in the south, in Michaelerplatz. Michaelerplatz is one of Vienna's most famous squares, thanks to its proximity to the Hofburg, Vienna's imperial palace. Many tourists head straight for the palace, but there are some other noteworthy sights around the square as well:
The oldest building at Michaelerplatz is the Michaelerkirche, long the parish church of the emperors. The Michaelerkirche (St Michael's Church) is the former parish church of the Austrian monarchy. Church St. Michael date from as far back as the first half of the thirteenth century. It was originally built in 1221 but regularly expanded and modified to such an extent that it now consists of a mix of architectural styles. Experts believe that the altar room was built between 1327 and 1340, the lower parts of the tower later. In the ensuing centuries, the church was rebuilt and added to several times. The tower is still Gothic and dates from the fourteenth century. The neoclassicist facade was designed in 1792. Of note is the sculpture group above the Baroque porch, depicting the Fall of Angels and created by Lorenzo Mattielli. Guided tours: Wedenesdays 13.00 and 15.00, except on holidays - German/English. Meeting Point: in front of the church. St. Michael's used to be the parish church of the Imperial Court, when it was called Zum heiligen Michael. The church is a late Romanesque, early Gothic building dating from about 1220–1240. There is a document giving 1221 as the foundation date of the church, but this is most probably a 14th-century forgery. it has stood in its present form since 1792. Opening hours: MON - SAT, 07.00 - 22.00, SUN, 08.00 - 22.00, on holidays 08.00 - 22.00:
St. Michael´s Crypt - The crypt was created in the 16th and 17th centuries, as a result of the closure in 1508 of the graveyard that had been located around the church. Today, the church is visited mostly for its interesting catacombs. From 1631 to 1784, about 4,000 people were buried here. Today, one can still see hundreds of coffins adorned with flowers or skulls, as well as mummified corpses. The most famous person buried in the catacombs is Pietro Metastasio, who wrote some of the librettos of Mozart's operas:
The domed Michaelertrakt is one of the most exuberant wings of the imperial palace. It was originally designed in the 1720s by Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, but the project stalled and it wouldn't be until 1888, when the old Burgtheater was demolished, that construction really started. Michaelertrakt, the semicircular St Michael's Wing of the Hofburg dates from 1888-1893. Austrian architect Ferdinand Kirschner followed von Erlach's original Baroque design and completed the wing in 1893. Two monumental fountains emphasize the grandeur of the building. The dome covering the roof is one of Vienna's most famous sights. Through the Michaelertor (see below) gateway is a round vestibule leading to the Palace apartments and various collections:
At the center of the wing is a monumental gate, the Michaelertor. Along the sides of the three entrances are colossal statues of Hercules. At either end of the Michaelertrakt are large wall fountains with sculpture groups. The fountain on the right, the 'Mastery of the Land', was designed in 1897 by Edmund Hellmer and symbolizes the Austrian army. The fountain on the left is known as the 'Mastery of the Sea'. It was sculpted in 1895 by Rudolf Weyr and symbolizes the Austrian naval power.
"The forces on land" (1897) - Fountain with statue group on the outside of the St. Michael's tract. This interesting fountain is located on the corner of the left (south) side of the Michaelertor.It was sculpted by Rudolf Weyr in 1895 and symbolizes the Austrian Navy. It is made of white marble and it depicts a young woman on a ship, dominating the "powers of the sea" (God of seas Neptune, sea dragon):
Michaelerplatz is dominated by the impressive neo-Baroque Michaelertor, the entrance gate to the Hofburg:
Opposite the palace is one of Vienna's first modern buildings, the Looshaus. It was built in 1911 the Looshaus caused quite a controversy due to its modern façade void of decorations, very unusual in Baroque Vienna. Adolf Loos was influenced by the nascent skyscraper architecture that he had seen on a trip to the United States, and employed a business-like style with straight lines and little or no decoration.
At the center of the square is an open area with Roman and medieval remains. Excavations at Michaelerplatz unearthed remains of a Roman house as well as some medieval foundations and remains of the former Burgtheater. The ruins are now exposed and can be seen from street level:
Parlamentsgebäude - The Austrian Parliament - outstanding Greek architecture:
Transportaion: U-Bahn (subway): U2, U3: Volkstheater, tram D, 1, 2: Stadiongasse/Parlament, tram 46, 49, bus 2A, 48A: Dr. Karl Renner-Ring.
Note: Lion's share of the text - is taken from the Wikipedia web site.
The Austrian Parliament building, (Parlament or Hohes Haus, formerly the Reichsratsgebäude), is where the two Houses of the Parliament of Austria conduct their sittings. The building lies at the Ringstraße (Universitatsring) in the first district Innere Stadt in Vienna, close by the Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Palace of Justice. The main construction lasted from 1874 to 1883. The foundation stone was laid in 1874; the building was completed in 1883. The architect responsible for its Greek Revival style was Theophil Hansen (Danish origin). The architect von Hansen designed the building as an ensemble, where each piece harmonizes with the rest. He was also responsible for the interior decoration such as statues, paintings, furniture, chandeliers, and other elements. One of the building's most famous features is the statue of Athena and the fountain, a notable Viennese tourist attraction. At the foot of the ramps are statues of Horse Tamers. Eight more statues on the balustrades show historians from the Antiquity: four Greek historians on the left ramp and four Roman historians on the right ramp. The building is decorated on all sides with many more statues and friezes (together more than one hundred) and four sculpture groups of chariot riders adorn the roof of the Parliament.
The whole visit in the Parliament is a real experience. Ignore the fact that so few tourists are paying vor a guided tour in this stunning attraction. The guided tour is sweeping and interesting. The interior is wonderful. It is one-hour visit - long remembered.
Opening hours for guided tours: Mid-September until mid-July (except on days when parliament is in session): MON - THU: 11.00 , 14.00, 15.00, 16.00, FRI: 11.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00, SAT: 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00. Mid-July until mid-September (except on days when parliament is in session): MON - SAT: 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00. Admission: 5 €, Individual ticket/reduced* € 2,50, For persons aged 19 or under free. Combined ticket with Palais Epstein - 8 €. Duration: approx. 55 minutes.
The imposing structure is dominated by the central portico with eight monumental Corinthian columns. Sculptures on the tympanum depict Franz Joseph who grants his subjects a constitution. Wide ramps lead to the portico. Baron von Hansen's design for the Reichsratsgebäude uses the neo-Greek style, which was popular during the 19th century Classic revival. Hansen worked at that time in Athens and was recruited by the Greek-Austrian magnate Nikolaus Dumba, who was on the committee for constructing a new parliament building. Hansen was inspired by the design of the Zappeion hall in Athens. Despite heavy damages and destruction during World War II, most of the interior has been restored to its original appearance. The parliament building covers over 13,500 square meters, making it one of the largest structures on the Ringstraße. It was constructed to house the two chambers of the Reichsrat, the legislature of the Austrian part (Cisleithania) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The original plans saw separate buildings for the House of Representatives and the House of Lords, but for practical and financial reasons it was later decided to house both chambers in one building. Von Hansen's concept of the layout reflected the structure of the Imperial Council (Reichsrat), as was stipulated by the so-called February Patent of 1861, which laid down the constitutional structure for the empire. The two chambers were connected by the great hypostyle hall, which was the central structure. The hall was supposed to be the meeting point between the commoners and the lords, reflecting the structure of society at the time. Today, the parliament building is seat of the National Council (Nationalrat) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat). It contains over 100 rooms, the most important of which are the Chambers of the National Council, the Federal Council and the former imperial House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). The building also includes committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining-rooms, bars and gymnasiums. It is the site of important state ceremonies, most notably the swearing-in ceremony of the President of Austria and the state speech on National Day on each October 26. The building is very closely associated with the two Houses, as shown by the use of "Hohes Haus" as a metonym for "Parliament". Parliamentary offices overspill into nearby buildings such as the Palais Epstein (see above):
Parliament - rear side:
The main entrance at the portico is an exact copy of the gate of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis of Athens, fitted with a bronze portal. From the main entrance at the Ringstraße one passes into the vestibule of the building, which contains Ionic pillars. The walls are decorated with Pavonazzo marble. The niches contain statues of Greek gods. Seen from the entrance starting from the left these are Apollo, Athena, Zeus, Hera, and Hephaestus, and from the right Hermes, Demeter, Poseidon, Artemis and Ares. Above the niches with the gods is a frieze more than 100 m long by the Viennese artist Alois Hans Schram, running along the corridor and continuing into the atrium. It is an allegorical depiction of the blessing of Peace, the civic Virtues and Patriotism. Above the entrance that leads to the grand Hall of Pillars (Säulenhalle) is a frieze with an allegorical depiction of Austria on her throne. Representing the motto "Goods and Blood for thy country" (Gut und Blut furs Vaterland), warriors are swearing their loyalty and women are bringing offerings:
Hall of Pillars:
For the interior decoration Baron von Hansen used Greek architectural elements such as Doric, Ionic and Corinthian pillars, and in the two rooms Pompei-style stucco technique for the walls. Located behind the entrance atrium is the grand Hall of Pillars (Säulenhalle) or peristyle. The hall is about 40 m long and 23 m wide. The 24 Corinthian pillars are made of Adnet marble, and all of them are monoliths weighing around 16 tons each. The pillars carry the skylighted main ceiling in the middle and the coffered side ceilings. The floor is made of polished marble resting on a concrete hull. The space below was designed as a hypocaust for a floor heating and air circulation system for the hall. Located on the transverse axis at the end of the Hall of Pillars are the chamber of the former House of Representatives (on the left ) (see below) and the chamber of the former House of Lords (on the right) (see below). Von Hansen's idea was to have the Hall of Pillars as the main central part of the building. It was designed to act as a meeting point between the House of Lords and the House of Representatives. Hansen also wanted to have the hall used by the monarch for the State Opening of Parliament and the Speech from the Throne, similar to the British tradition. However, such ceremonies were never held in the building, since Emperor Franz Joseph I had a personal disdain for the parliamentary body. Speeches from the Throne in front of the parliamentarians were held in the Hofburg Palace instead. The architect von Hansen paid particular attention to the design and construction of this hall. The marble floor was polished in a complicated process. The capitals of the pillars were gilded with 23 carat (96%) gold. Running around the wall was a frieze - designed and painted by Eduard Lebiedzki. The monumental piece of work took decades to prepare and design, and four years, from 1907 until 1911, to paint. The frieze showed allegories depicting the duties of parliament on a golden background. The hall was heavily damaged by aerial bombardments by British and American during World War II. On February 7, 1945 the hall suffered direct hits by aerial bombs. At least two pillars and the skylight were completely destroyed. The gilded coffered side ceilings under which the frieze ran on the walls were almost completely destroyed. The few surviving parts of the frieze were removed and stored. Only in the 1990s were the surviving parts restored as much as possible. Because of its representative character, the Hall of Pillars is presently used by the President of the National Council and the Federal Council for festive functions, as well as for traditional parliamentary receptions. Located at the back of the Hall of Pillars is the reception salon (Empfangssalon) of the President of the National Council. The room is fitted with Pompeian wall decorations in stucco and a large glass skylight. Hanging on the wall are portraits of the Presidents of the National Council since 1945. Further behind the reception salon is the former reception hall for both chambers of the Imperial Council. It is used today for committee meetings and hearings on financial, state budget, and audit court matters by the National Council, thus its present name, Budgetsaal. The hall is richly decorated with marble, stucco, and a rich coffered ceiling in the Renaissance style. Inlaid into the ceiling are the coat of arms of the 17 Kronländer kingdoms and territories represented in the Imperial Council.
Former House of Representatives Chamber:
The chamber of the former House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus) is used today by the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) whenever it convenes for special occasions such as National Day and the inauguration ceremony of a newly-elected Federal President of Austria. It originally contained 364 seats. With the introduction of various electoral reforms, the number was increased to 425 seats in 1896 and with the introduction of male universal suffrage in 1907 to 516 seats. The chamber has viewing galleries on two levels. The first gallery has in the middle a box for the head of state. The right side of the gallery is for the diplomatic corps and the left side for the cabinet and family members of the head of state. On both far ends are seats for journalists. The gallery on the second level, which is slightly recessed from the one on the first level, is for the general public. The chamber is architecturally based on an ancient Greek theatre. The wall behind the presidium is designed like an antique skene with marble colonnades that carry a gable. The columns and pilasters of the wall are made of marble from Untersberg, the stylobates of dark marble, the decorations of the doors of red Salzburg marble. The wall space between the pillars is made with niches in between decorated with statues made of Carrara marble. The statues show historical persons such as Numa Pompilius, Cincinnatus, Quintus Fabius Maximus, Cato the Elder, Gaius Gracchus, Cicero, Manlius Torquatus, Augustus, Seneca the Younger and Constantine the Great. The friezes above were painted by August Eisenmenger and depict the history of the emergence of civic life. Starting from left to right it shows: Battle of the Centaurs and Lapithes, Minos judges according to his own discretion, Swearing-in of the representatives of Sparta, Brutus condemns his sons, Menenius Agrippa reconciles the estates, Sophokles in competition with Aischylos, Sokrates visiting the market of Athens, The order of the representative buildings through Pericles. Note: the head of Pericles actually has the features of Baron Theophil von Hansen, Herodot in Olympia, Plato teaches law, Demosthenes addresses the people, Decius Mus dedicates himself to death, Caius Gracchus holds a speech from the speaker's platform, Solon has the Athenians swear on the laws, Peace.
National Council Chamber:
Since 1920 the former meeting room of the House of Lords has been used as a plenary meeting room by the National Council. The House of Lords (Herrenhaus) used to have its chamber where today the National Council convenes. The chamber was designed in the classical style, with a horseshoe-shaped seating arrangement facing the chair. The Chamber of the National Council was destroyed in 1945 during aerial bombardments and was completely rebuilt in a modern style. The new chamber was finished in 1956 and is a typical example of 1950s architecture. Apart from the coat of arms made of steel, the chamber lacks lustre and without decoration. The carpet is mint-green, considered to be neutral at the time since it was not the color of any political party. Behind the speaker's stand is the government bench (Regierungsbank), which is however only fully occupied during important events such as the declaration of the government (Regierungserklärung) or the sessions of budget speech (Budgetrede):
Federal Council Chamber (Bundesrat):
Located next to the Chamber of the former House of Lords is the current Chamber of the Federal Council of Austria (Bundesrat). The room was used by the Lords as an antechamber and informal meeting room. After the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the new republican constitution in 1920, the former Lords room became the Chamber for the Federal Council. The seating arrangement of the present Chamber of the Federal Council is similar to the other two great chamber halls. Members of the Federal Council sit in a semicircle facing the presidium. In front of the presidium is the cabinet bench. The furniture was completely renewed in 1999. In 1970, the coat of arms of Austria as well as of the nine Austrian states was installed above the presidium:
The Athena Fountain (Pallas-Athene-Brunnen) in front of the Parliament was erected between 1893 and 1902 by Carl Kundmann, Josef Tautenhayn, and Hugo Haerdlt, based on the plans by Baron von Hansen. In the middle is a water-basin and a richly decorated base. The four lying figures at the foot of Athena are allegorical representations of the four most important rivers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They represent at the front the Danube and Inn, in the back part the Elbe and Moldau rivers. On the sides are little cupids riding dolphins. The statues of the Danube, Inn, and the cupids were executed by Haerdtl, those of the Elbe and Moldau by Kundmann. The female statues above represent the legislative and executive powers of the state, executed by Tautenhayn. They are again dominated by the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena standing on a pillar. Athena is dressed in armor with a gilded helmet, her left hand carries a spear, her right carries Nike.