150 years of the Ringstrasse – a Viennese open-air museum

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Photo: Vienna State Opera, State Opera House © WienTourismus / Christian Stemper

Vienna: From military grounds to showpiece boulevard: Vienna’s Ringstrasse celebrates the 150th anniversary of its opening in 2015. Its magnificent late 19th century mansions and monumental public buildings make it an impressive procession of Vienna’s best sights. The buildings on the Ringstrasse are among the city’s most important sights and the “grandest public space in Europe” (Edmund de Waal) comprises a variety of architectural styles. The Ringstrasse’s historicism is based on idealized styles from the history of architecture. For each building, a style was selected that echoed its intended purpose – for example, the Parliament building was modeled on a Greek temple, and the new section of the imperial residence on a Roman forum. The State Opera (at that time the Court Opera), the University, the Stock Exchange, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Natural History Museum were built in the Neo-Renaissance style, while the Burgtheater is Neo-Baroque, the City Hall is an example of Flemish gothic and the Votive Church was built in the Neo-Gothic style.

The Ringstrasse is a treasure trove of architectural details, from the sculptures and decoration on mansion façades to the design of entrances and stairwells. The planning concept was to create a single showcase composed of public and private buildings, intentionally placed alongside one another. Among the monumental administrative, government, cultural and commercial buildings on the Ring are the Vienna State Opera, the Burgtheater, the City Hall and the Parliament. The Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum, along with the Neue Burg – an expansion of the Hofburg – were parts of a wider project designed to express the might of the Habsburg monarchy in a grand architectural gesture. The Imperial Forum was intended to link the Hofburg with the twin museums housing the imperial collections, extending all the way to the imperial stables. A second wing opposite the Neue Burg (at the site of what is now Heldenplatz) was ultimately never realized, meaning that the grand Imperial Forum was never completed.
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We at Luxury Traveler subscribe to the notion that "true luxury is the wealth of one's experiences." As such we focus on the finest European arts, cultural & LifeStyle pursuits as well as the talented individuals who bring them to life.
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