I thought it something of a surprise that , proportional to the number of tourists in Vienna, the Kunsthistoriches Museum (let’s just call it KHM) seemed relatively less popular than the Louvre in Paris, although there are distinct parallels. Both house stunning collections of art, both have great displays of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. OK, the KHM isn’t as large and hasn’t featured in any well-known stories, but it is up there with the best and certainly deserves to feature on the “must visit” list of all visitors to Vienna.
Not only are the collections stunning, so is the building itself (and, no doubt, also the matching Naturhistorisches Museum facing it across the park). Both opened in 1891, but it is the KHM which now draws the attention. It was raining when we visited, so we didn’t linger to admire the outside façade and details (main photo). Step inside though, and be amazed at the richness of the marble columns and the painted ceiling in the central atrium area (vertical panorama, photo 2) with its ‘trompe d’oeil’ effect. Then stroll through the Egyptian antiquities section on the ground floor (photo 3) and you’ll be overwhelmed. That feeling continues as you visit the Roman antiquities collection. As enthusiastic collectors, the Hapsburgs also gathered a vast array of carved ivory: the quality of some of the work is ethereal (photo 4), though I must admit being quite uncomfortable about the slaughter of wildlife necessary to have produced it. Finally, the art collection is world famous, and justly so, with a huge array of works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio, Bruegel, Van Dyck… and on it goes! (photo 5). What’s more, apart from a ban on using flash or tripods, there is no restriction on photography – our Australian galleries might well care to take note!
Continuing around the Ringstrasse just a little further from the Rathaus, you’ll find another impressive Gothic building. It looks the part of something from the 1300s, with its gargoyles, flying buttresses, arches, stained glass windows and all – but it’s actually from the late 1800s and was designed by the same Heinrich Von Ferstel who designed the Palais Ferstel (separate tip).
Going by the number of assassinations attempts, successful and unsuccessful, over the years, it seems that being a member of Habsburg royalty was a risky business! The failure of an attempted assassination of Franz Josef 1 in 1853 led to the construction of this superb cathedral, as an act of thanksgiving.
We visited on a rainy weekend day and the interior appeared to be closed for maintenance – certainly cleaning and maintenance was very much in evidence, going by the scaffolding and by the contrast in cleaned/uncleaned sections of stonework (as may be seen in the photos). As a personal opinion, the exterior appealed to me more than St Stephan’s, mainly because of the uniform styling – though my guidebook suggests the interior is vast and empty, so that may have been a disappointment.
As you wander around the Ringstrasse from the Kunsthistorisches Museum to the Rathaus, you’ll pass the Austrian Parliament building. The columned façade is very much “Ancient Greece meets Baroque” and the overall effect is very impressive (second photo). I’m sure there is a substantial security presence somewhere, but from outside it certainly was not obvious – unlike the French Parliament which has what seem to be permanent mesh barricades!
Most of all, while you are here, you’re certain to be struck by the superb statue of Pallas Athenas, the Greek Goddess of Heroic Endeavour. When we visited, it seemed the gilding on her helmet and accoutrements really gleamed (main photo). This is listed in our guidebook as a fountain, but there wasn’t any watery stuff splashing around when we visited – great statue though!
The Ring is called this way because it has a circle shape,it limits the old town of Vienna with Danube river.Walking by the ring,you'll see some of best and most beautiful buildings of the city.A good point to start the ring is the Opera House (Staatoper) and the only thing that you must to do is follow the cars on the big avenue.
There are three lanes of just one way,so all cars are running at same direction.You never get lost just looking at the cars directions.It is a nice and large walk to finish the whole ring,about 2,30 hours,it depends of your speed of course! :-) but I am sure that you'll spend lots of time taken pictures of all beautiful buildings along the ring!.
Now I'll show you some of best places to see along the ring.
This is a picture of Art History Museum.
The Ringstrasse is the part of Vienna I like most for its architecture and I don't know a city in Europe showing such an ensemble of beautiful buildings.
The Ringstrasse is not one single street; it is a succession of large avenues with monumental buildings, parks and luxury hotels.
It starts in the north with the Votivkirche, University and Rathaus at the Dr. Karl Lueger Ring, continuous at the Dr. K. Renner ring with the parliament. Architecture is all neo-something: neo-gothic, neo-classic, neo-baroque.
Then comes the top with the Burgring with views on the Neue Burg and the two museums KHM and NHM at the Maria-Theresia platz.
Let's continue with the Opernring and the Opera to end at the Park ring. You can do the walk in day-time but also in the evening (Wien is a rather safe town).
The Ringstrasse was started in the middle of the 19th century when the inner fortifications around the heart of the city were removed. This wide and mostly tree lined boulevard runs through that what can be called World's most important ensemble of Historism. The various parts of the Ringstrasse have different names even including the full academic degrees of the historical persons which makes US students to write letters to the University's admission department starting with "Dear Dr. Karl Renner Ring..." Along the Ring you can find really impressive fakes of all European styles from Greek Temple (Parliament) via Gothic Cathedral (Rathaus and Votivkirche) to Renaissance (University) and Baroque, all built at the same time and often by the same architects.
The both tram lines 1 and 2 run all around the Ring (which is closed by the Kai along the Donaukanal) and you have the choice to do the tour clockwise or counterclockwise and can excellently watch all through the windows of the tram. Highly recommendable!
The Ringstraße (or Ringstrasse) is a circular road surrounding the Innere Stadt district of Vienna, Austria and is one of its main sights. It is typical of the historical style called Ringstraßenstil (Ringstraße Style) of the 1860s to 1890s.
The tram lines 1 and 2 run all around the Ring (which is closed by the Kai along the Donaukanal) and you have the choice to go clockwise or anti clockwise and can watch views through the windows of the tram. Highly recommendable!
The Austrian Parliament Building, (German: 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 in the first district Innere Stadt in Vienna, close by the Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Palace of Justice. Coordinates: 48°12′29″N, 16°21′29″E
The main construction lasted from 1874 to 1883. The architect responsible for the building was Baron Theophil von Hansen, the building is an example of Greek revival. The architect von Hansen designed the building as an ensemble, where each piece harmonised with the rest. He was therefore 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. Despite heavy damages and destruction during World War II, most of the interior has been restored to its original appearance
Behind the cathedral, we found a group of sculptures, this time a trio of musical ladies. There also is a plaque dedicated to Antonio Vivaldi. No doubt the musicians are meant to be playing the “Four Seasons”: Vivaldi was a priest (known, because of his hair colour as "The Red Priest"), so maybe that suggests some connection with the Votivkirche. Unfortunately, although the statue was enjoyable, I’ve been unable to find out more about it – there was no other signage!
Ringstrasse is one of the most enduring legacies of the Hapsburgs to Vienna. Concieved in 1857 by decree of Emperor Franz-Joseph 1, it replaced the old zig-zag fortifications with a string of Imperial avenues, strung rond the throat of the Innere Stadt like a necklace. It's monumental buildings are well known, among them The Kunsthistoriche Museum, The Staatoper, The Rathaus, Burg Theatre etc. On my many meanders around the Ringstrasse (cut in half incidentally when I realised that I could take a short-cut through the Hofburg) one of them made an immediate and different impression on me. The Parlament building with its perfectly classical structure is quite noticeable among the other, mostly Baroque buildings. Part of the square that comprises the Rathaus, Burg Theatre and University, it was sesigned by the Danish architect , Theophil Hansen. Establishing the classical tradition a massive statue of pallas Athena lords it over a fountain representing the Elbe, Danube, Inn and Moldova. The impediment on the main portico is outstanding and would do Athens or Rome proud. All along the top of the building are statue, horses and chariots. A feast for the classsicaly inclined eye.
Guided Tours aavailable. Check website.
If you're not a great walker you can catch tram no 1 or 2 and go round the Ringstrasse as often as it takes to see all the sights.
The Parlament building was constructed between 1873 and 1883, and was designed in the style of the Greek revival by Theophil Hansen. In front of the building is the famous Pallas Athena fountain - which after renovation works is now once again open to the public to see. The building has served as a parliament building since its construction and is home to the lower and upper houses of parliament, both of which are composed of elected politicians.
The Parlament has been undergoing restoration work for several years now, and is now finished - you can once again walk up the ramp and admire the view to the Hofburg and the building is once again in pristine condition.
The Ringstrasse would be the place to go if you want a speedy view of Vienna. Walk around the Ringstrasse and you'll see the long-gone golden era of monarchical rule, where the buildings are still grand and baroque. Along the Ringstrasse, you will find many of Vienna's most famous buildings, from the university, Votiv Church, the city town hall (Rathaus), the Burgtheater (imperial theatre), the Parliament building, Museums, Opera house and Otto Wagner's famous Postal Savings Bank.
The Ringstrasse is certainly Vienna in all its grandeous, centuries-old splendour.
In a sort of architectural leapfrog from Jugendstil to Classicism I would like to point out the Theseus Temple, another little outburst of classical form in a predominantly Baroque Vienna. This temple is to be found in the Volksgarten and was erected around 1820, in imitation of the Theseion in Athens. Apparently Napoleon had planned to house a piece of sculpture by Canova there but this was subsequently transferred to the Kunsthistoriche museum. In the 1930's there were plans to use it as a musicians centre but this didn't materialise either. Now it sits in solitary splendour, like a cuckoo in the nest of the Volksgarten and is infrequently used at all.
I hope, you are lucky enough to stay at the Novotel/city (there is also a Novotel at the outskirts, relatively far from City center)
The city-Novotel is situated in "Aspernbrueckengasse" (see map at
near the socalled Praterstrasse and rather close to the "Ringstrasse" , a street, circulating the inner city and passing the main city-sights, as Opera, Burgtheater, Hofburg, the museums, Rathaus etc. So the best advice would be to start your city-tour by taking the tram and do one circle around the inner city. Then you could decide, whether to walk to the famous "Belvedere" castle or take a 20-minutes ride by subway to Schoenbrunn-castle. Walking from the Opera House to St Stephens Cathedral should not be missed!!
Have a nice day here in Vienna !
The Austrian Parliament looks like an old greek temple, but in fact it dates back to the end of the 19th century and was constructed by Theophil Hansen as a part of the Ringstrassen-architecture. You may visit the parliament with a guided tour and after the reconstruction-works that ended in 2005 they even have a shop for parliament-souvenirs there. Take a closer look at the great monument of Pallas Athene and various fine details, like the door-handle on one of my pictures. The entrance-hall is beautifully decorated with mosaiques and even the street-lamps are decorated with swans and sculptures out of the greek mythology.