Architecture and sights in Vienna, Austria.

Architecture and sights in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna, the capital of Austria and one of the largest cities in Austria. It is a fascinating cultural city whose historical center is listed by UNESCO. Thanks to its unique atmosphere Vienna has become the cultural capital of Europe. The city’s sights are a record of the history of this country. Piazzas, palaces, monuments and masterpieces of art reflect the rich cultural heritage. Of the many sights, below are some of them.


Schönbrunn Castle in the western part of Vienna , one of the most beautiful Baroque castles in Europe, and the most visited monument in Austria. Its origins date back to 1563, when Emperor Maximilian II of Habsburg bought the land and built a castle there. However, at that time it was still called Katterburg. It was only Emperor Matthias who gave it its new and well-known name of Schönbrunn, that is, the Beautiful Fountain, who reconstructed the dilapidated building and its surroundings.

Ferdinand II’s wife also adopted a new name, Eleonora von Habsburg, who transformed the former hunting grounds surrounding the castle into a prominent place of social life, where the Emperor himself performed in theatrical productions. In 1693, Leopold I. decided to replace the original building with a hunting lodge for his son, the future Emperor Joseph. He hired the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, who applied his experience from previous studies in Rome. Seven years later the entire middle wing of the palace was completed, but the following year construction was halted because of financial problems caused by expenditures during the Spanish war.

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The castle acquired its present form only during the reign of Maria Theresia, who entrusted its completion to the architect Nicolo Pacassi. At that time a magnificent residence was created with 1,441 rooms, of which only 45 are now open to the public. During a tour you can see the Hall of Mirrors, where the genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played the piano as a child, the rooms of Franz Joseph and his wife Empress Sissi, and the Blue Chinese Salon, where Charles I signed his abdication in 1918. Also of interest are the beautiful Czech crystal chandeliers decorated with 14-karat gold ornaments. Equally interesting is the surrounding garden with fountains, statues, flower beds, as well as a palm greenhouse and a labyrinth. It also includes one of the best zoos in Europe, which is home to five hundred species of animals.

UN Headquarters

The UN complex in Vienna, one of the four major UN Headquarters. On 24 October 1945, fifty nations (including Czechoslovakia) signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco. This created the organization that replaced the League of Nations, which had lost its significance after World War II. Its mission was, and still is, to maintain international peace and promote security and cooperation among states.

The UN has several offices around the world, but only four headquarters. Besides New York, Nairobi and Geneva, there is also one in Vienna. Back in 1967, the Austrian government leased the land on the banks of the Danube to the UN for ninety-nine years for a token fee of one shilling. Six years later construction began on an area of 180,000 m2 . The author of the project was the Austrian architect Johann Staber. He designed two central cylindrical buildings, the larger of which reaches a height of 127 meters and consists of twenty-eight floors. They are surrounded by lower buildings with a floor plan resembling the letter Y. The entire complex was inaugurated on January 1, 1980.

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UN Headquarters.

It was aptly named UNO-city. It housed the headquarters of thirty other international organizations. The official name was therefore changed to the Vienna International Centre. At present, construction is going on in its vicinity, with buildings of glass and steel predominating.

Five thousand employees work in the UN buildings, which are an international extraterritorial territory. Here one finds, for example, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Office for Outer Space. In August 1998, a new visitor center was opened here, which organizes tours in which you can see public spaces, including the conference hall.

Spanish Riding School

Spanish Riding School , an institution located in the district of Michael Castle Hofburg, founded in 1565. The foundations of the school were laid in 1572 by the Austrian Emperor Maximilian I. It was based on the rules formulated at the time for classical riding by equestrian sportsman Federico Grisone. At the time, the emperor liked to use Spanish horses, which gave the whole school its name. In 1719 Charles VI commissioned the architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer of Erlach to build extensive stables, and in 1735 a magnificent Baroque riding school was opened to teach equestrian art to the descendants of aristocrats.

The school is still housed in the original historic building in the Hofburg . The sand-filled arena, fifty-five meters long and eighteen meters wide, is decorated with three crystal chandeliers suspended from the ceiling at a height of seventeen meters. For visitors there are two balustrades, from which they can comfortably watch the performance. The one that stands out is the socalled prince’s box, decorated with a portrait of Charles VI, in front of which the riders laugh as they approach the room.

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Spanish Riding School

A local riding school, the only one in the world where the so-called equestrian art school, based on precise movements combined with music, has been cultivated since the Renaissance. Not surprisingly, it was included in the List of World Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO . In the building of the riding school, spectators can admire the unique harmony of rider and horse every day. These are Lipizzan horses bred in Pibera . From here, nine stallions about three years old are sent to Vienna each year, training for five to six years, during which time only one rider takes care of each horse. These whites wear black riding equipment with gold ornaments and a saddle when they perform in front of the public. The riders are dressed in dark tails, light galifs, tall black boots, and double-horned hats.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Stephansdom, one of the most important Gothic monuments in Austria, as well as a symbol of Vienna. Its construction began in the 12th century. In the north tower of the cathedral is the heaviest and largest Austrian bell, the Pummerin. Construction of today’s symbol of Vienna began in the 12th century outside the city walls. An impressive new Romanesque building was consecrated here in 1147, but archaeological excavations that have uncovered an older burial ground suggest that a tabernacle used to stand here.

The oldest surviving parts, however, date from the reconstruction of 1230 to 1263. They can be seen on the west façade. This was followed by the first Gothic reconstruction and expansion under the direction of Rudolph IV of Habsburg, so that during the 14th and 15th centuries a three-nave altar, side steps, choir and main Gothic nave were built. It is reduced to an impressive ribbed vault supported by tall columns.

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral

However, the greatest merit for the importance of the church is due to Emperor Francis III, who in 1469 succeeded in completing the efforts to create a local diocese, and thus the church became a cathedral. He was the only one to find his final resting place in the above-ground part of the dome under the massive red marble slab. The cardinals and archbishops of Vienna are buried below, as well as Prince Eugene of Savoy, for example.

In the interior of this predominantly Gothic building one can also admire the marble high altar, on which the brothers Tobias and Johann Pock depicted the stoning of St. Stephen, and behind it five stained glass windows with stories of prophets and saints. Not to be missed are the temple treasures, which contain beautiful reliquaries, relics of saints, rare books and gospels .

For years the Vienna Cathedral was the tallest building in Europe. The southern tower, at 136.44 meters, served as an observatory in case of fire or approaching enemies. The 343 steps lead to a signal room below the top. Those who want to avoid the difficult climb up the narrow stairs can take the elevator to the Pummerin bell in the North Tower . It weighs twenty tons and, according to legend, was cast from bullets captured by the Turks during the siege of Vienna in 1683.

Architecture and sights in Vienna, Austria.

“The Albertina is a famous museum in the historic center of Vienna, considered to possess one of the world’s largest collections of paintings of printed graphics. The museum has a collection of about 900,000 works of graphic art and approximately 50,000 drawings and watercolors.

Vienna Opera House

Built in 1869, the building was to serve solely as a reliable supplier of spiritual food to the Austrian royal court. Inaugurated in the 19th century by Don Giovanni, the Vienna opera house became a favorite place of the capital’s aristocracy and other courtiers.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is the Viennese residence of the Austrian emperors and one of the most important buildings of the Austrian Baroque. In addition to the palace itself, Schönbrunn is interesting for its Palm House, the Gloriette Pavilion, the wonderful park, the labyrinth, and the oldest zoo.

The Belvedere palace complex in Vienna

The Belvedere is a large and elegant palace complex in the Austrian capital. In the 18th century one of the greatest military leaders of Austria, Eugene of Savoy, decided to build a summer residence for himself.

Kreuzenstein Castle

Kreuzenstein is a beautiful medieval castle located just 17 kilometers from Vienna in the quiet village of Leobendorf. The owner of Kreuzenstein was a very romantic and spiritual person and wanted to build a castle in the spirit of Neuschwanstein – and he succeeded.


Lichtenstein Castle is located at the edge of the Vienna Woods near Maria-Enzersdorf, south of Vienna. The castle, originally built in the 12th century, was destroyed by the Turks in 1529-1683, and remained in ruins until 1884, when it was rebuilt.

Liechtenstein Museum

The Liechtenstein Museum is a palace-museum in Vienna named after the Princely House of Liechtenstein, one of the oldest noble families in Europe. The museum includes a princely collection containing objects of European art.

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“The Ringstrasse is like the Ring Road but in Vienna”, as the monarch Franz Joseph I probably explained to his subjects in 1857, was the essence of his ambitious plan. Today along the whole Ringstrasse laid tramways, and not to take a ride on the “Viennese ring”, being in the Austrian capital – simply mauvais ton.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna is a Catholic cathedral, the national symbol of Austria and symbol of Vienna. This grandiose Gothic cathedral in Vienna’s central square is literally “full” of wonderful relics: crucifixes, church utensils and world-class works of art.


The Hofburg is the winter residence of the Austrian Habsburgs and the main residence of the imperial court in Vienna. At present it is the official residence of the president of Austria. There are 2600 rooms in total.

The Millennium Tower in Vienna

On the eve of the third millennium, the construction of buildings, bridges and television towers dedicated to the anniversary set the trend worldwide. Vienna was not spared and in 1999 the Millennium Tower climbed up into the clouds on the banks of the Danube.

The tower of the madmen in Vienna.

“The faint of heart – don’t look now” – that could be the motto of Vienna’s Tower of the Mad (Narrenturm), which is home to one of the most controversial and horrifying museums in the world. If you decide to take a chance and see the tower of the mad, you will be spoilt for choice with a host of unusual exhibits.

Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna

In the 18th century the fashion for “apothecary gardens” in which medicinal plants were cultivated spread throughout the royal courts of Europe. In 1754, Empress Maria Theresia bought a two-hectare plot of land on which she constructed the Hortus Medicus garden.


The Royal Burgtheater is one of the oldest theaters not only in Austria, but also in all of Europe. It came into being rather amusingly: simply in 1741, Empress Maria Theresia noticed that the palace ballroom was empty, so she ordered it to be rebuilt as a theater.

Vienna’s snow globe factory

The Vienna Snowball Factory is located in one of the old Hernals’ estates on the outskirts of the city. Erwin Perzy III is the third generation to own thousands of glass snow globes. More than 200,000 are produced here each year and shipped around the world.

Vienna Konzerthaus

One of the most famous concert halls in the world, where classical music can be heard alongside jazz and rock, is of course the Wiener Konzerthaus. About 70-80 years ago, spiritualistic séances were held here in addition to baroque music concerts.

Vienna Woods

The Wiener Wald is well worth a visit, if only for its natural surroundings: You can pick mushrooms, lie on the lawns, enjoy the view from the observation deck and have a meal in a good restaurant in an almost natural environment.

Vienna University

One of the main attractions of the Austrian capital is the world-famous Vienna University. The main building of the educational institution is located in the heart of Vienna – on Ringstrasse. So, if you get to Vienna, you will definitely not pass by it. The other buildings are scattered throughout the city.

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Military History Museum in Vienna

The Austrian Empire was built in wars for centuries, but World War I led it to disintegration, and World War II led it to neutrality. Relics from numerous battles won since the 16th century have found a place in the halls of the Museum of Military History in the former Arsenal in the center of Vienna.

Votive Church

Not far from the Viennese Town Hall the pointed towers of the Catholic Church can be seen protruding from behind the trees in a small park. At first glance it may look Gothic, but up close it becomes clear that the church is much younger than cathedrals in Rheims or Chartres.

The first thing that comes to mind of anyone who has even a little idea about the Austrian capital – is classical music and genius composers who created it, pretentious architecture, legalized by centuries of tradition and little coffee houses, where strudels and world famous cakes are served. This rather general impression is partly true, but there is a “but”: the enchanting Vienna is much more beautiful, interesting and deeper than any thoughts of it. The enormous cultural wealth, miraculously preserved in spite of the Second World War, an eventful history, special atmosphere and a number of interesting areas of science, originating in the depths of this city, add many colors to the already beautiful picture.

Lovers of museums, of which there are about eighty in Vienna, should come here for at least two weeks. The varied exhibitions, ranging from unique painting collections to medical instruments, captivate everyone. The magnificent royal residences will appeal to fans of all things palatial and park architecture. Even a trip to the local eatery can turn into a little tour of the sites of memory, as there are places like the favorite gathering place of Rome’s various talents, the famous Café Antico Café Greco.

A taste of Austrian food and drink culture and history can be gained by visiting one of Vienna’s oldest drinking establishments, today’s Greichenbeisle. Many famous people once came here: Strauss, Beethoven and even the American writer Mark Twain. The Landtmann Café, which opened in the 19th century, was frequented by no lesser celebrities. The founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud and the great actress Marlene Dietrich graced its walls.

Vienna’s ten must-see sights

If you’re passing through Vienna and have little or no time for a long and thoughtful exploration of the city, the list of the top ten “must-see” attractions of the Austrian capital will help you navigate among the imperial splendor of the city. First of all, you should remember that the so-called Old City, the center of many architectural masterpieces, protected by UNESCO, territorially coincides with the present borders of the first district of Vienna. There are twenty-three districts in total. The Ringstrasse or Ringstrasse, created in the 19th century, wraps around the oldest, central part and is also a tourist attraction.


First on the list is Schoenbrunn Palace, the former royal residence of one of the most powerful dynasties in Europe, the great Habsburgs, who ruled Austria and parts of other European territories for about six hundred centuries. Like many grandiose structures, the palace is closely linked to the beautiful park. Schönbrunn reminds one of similar, yet different, royal residences: the French Versailles, which was taken as an example during its construction, the Russian Peterhof, etc. It is also partly connected with Versailles by the history of its creation. Originally there was a hunting lodge, which later turned into a palace and park complex. From a similar small estate designed for hunting, Louis XIV created his favorite brainchild. Another palace that is a must-see is the Habsburg Winter Residence Hofburg, which includes several sites at once. The premises of this architectural ensemble house several museums. Among them stand out the Imperial Apartments, the Sissi Museum, the Silver Museum, and the Museum of Art History.

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The Sissi Museum is named after Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria, who was called Sissi by her close relatives (Sissi is more common in the literature). The tragic life of this woman is reflected in many works of art. In particular, in the cinema.

Museum lovers, of which there are about eighty in Vienna, should come here for at least two weeks.

While the Hofburg is a mixture of styles, the Belvedere, another palace complex in Vienna, is a brilliant representative of the baroque. Originally Belvedere was the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, but it later came into the possession of the Habsburgs. The garden, with its symmetry, fountains and sculptures, reminds one again of France. The most interesting thing is that the rooms of the palace serve as a haven for the greatest works of art. The local gallery is a well known museum that includes works of art from past centuries as well as contemporary paintings.


One of the symbols of the city and the main tourist attraction is the Cathedral of St. Stephen, located on the square of the same name. This remarkable monument of religious architecture is named after the saint who is the patron saint of Vienna. The cathedral was built in the 12th century and carefully preserves the important testimonies of history: cannon balls that got into the building during the siege of the Turks, medieval measurement standards, ancient catacombs. Before St. Stephen’s Cathedral was built, the church administration was located in the Church of St. Rupert, the oldest church in Vienna. The construction dates back to the 7th-8th centuries. Generally speaking, Rupert was the patron saint of Salzburg, but he was also believed to be the guardian of Vienna’s salt merchants.

    Vienna Opera House Popular public transport The interior of St. Stephen’s Cathedral


If there’s still time left after visiting the museums that make up the palace complexes, the Liechtenstein Museum, located in the Princes’ Palace, with its fine collection of European paintings, will complete the experience. The Museum of Natural History is located exactly opposite the Museum of Art History and is part of the Hofburg complex. It is the largest collection of natural exhibits in the world, carefully collected by the Habsburgs. For those interested in psychoanalysis, the Sigmund Freud Museum is the place to go. In total, there are over 80 museums in the city.

Other sights

The Prater Park with the oldest Ferris wheel in the world, built in the 19th century, is another Viennese attraction worth seeing in person. The Viennese Zoo is no less interesting: At the time no one even thought of collecting all the animals under one roof. Even here, the inhabitants of the Austrian capital were the first in the world.

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