Old Town of Vienna (World Heritage)

The center, which is part of the world heritage, includes the old town, the Ringstrasse with numerous representative buildings from the late 19th century and parts of the suburb. The royal seat of the Habsburgs, with its monuments from the Middle Ages, Baroque and Wilhelminian periods, forms a unique ensemble and is an important testimony to the cultural and political development of the city in Europe.

Old town of Vienna: facts

Official title: Historic center of Vienna
Cultural monument: Historic center of the former royal seat (inner city and parts of the 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th municipal districts), shaped by three epochs; Numerous churches, palaces and parks, including St. Stephen’s Cathedral (13th – 16th century), Hofburg (court library and winter riding school by Fischer von Erlach), university (founded in 1365), State Opera and art history museum
Continent: Europe
Country: Austria
Location: Vienna
Appointment: 2001; on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger since 2017
Meaning: Unique building fabric from the Middle Ages, Baroque and Wilhelminian style as an important testimony to Austrian and European architectural history

Old town of Vienna: history

around 500 BC Chr. Celtic settlement
at 70 Foundation of the Roman camp town of Vindobona
976 Granted the margraviate to Leopold I von Babenberg by Otto II.
1221 Granting of town and stacking rights by Leopold IV.
1276 Vienna Habsburg
1485-1490 Occupation by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus
1529 Resistance to the attack of the Turks under Suleyman II the Magnificent
1683 Defense against the Turkish army of Mehmed IV.
1804 Capital of the Austrian Empire
1805/06 Occupation by the French
1848 Fall of Prince von Metternich due to revolutionary unrest
1857-1865 The Ringstrasse was built under Franz Joseph I.
1869 Start of Danube regulation
1873 World exhibition in Vienna
1922 Vienna own state
1938 Connection of Austria to Hitler’s Germany
1944/45 Air raids and ground fighting wreak havoc
1945–1955 Vienna under four-power administration
1979 UNO-City opened

World-class architecture and music

Sachertorte, Sisi and St. Stephen’s Cathedral – who doesn’t think of them immediately when they hear the name of the Austrian capital? But the historical center of Vienna has a lot more to offer, because its face was decisively shaped by three epochs: the Middle Ages, the Baroque and the Wilhelminian era.

The Viennese owe their landmark, the Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, to the Middle Ages. The baroque era left its most famous legacy in the Hofburg with its lush domes. And important buildings such as the State Opera and the Parliament were built during the founding period or the “Ringstrasse era”. These three epochs with their unique architectural styles combine to form a coherent overall picture in Vienna’s old town.

The city on the Danube is not only unique because of its epoch-spanning architecture, Vienna also plays an important role in European music history. It has been the music capital of Europe since the 16th century, where Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss, among others, lived and worked. For all these reasons, UNESCO included the historic center of Vienna on its World Heritage List in 2001. Due to the planning of a high-rise building on Heumarkt, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee put the site on the list of endangered world heritage in 2017.

According to computerannals, the landmark of the Austrian capital is St. Stephen’s Cathedral, often affectionately called “Steffl” by the Viennese. The first church, which was dedicated to St. Stephen, was completed as early as 1147, around 100 years later a late Romanesque building followed, of which the west facade with the two pagan towers and the giant gate is still preserved. In 1359 the foundation stone was finally laid for the new Gothic building of the nave.

Construction work on the cathedral ended in 1511, but elements were added over and over again in the following years, such as the Saphoy dome on the north tower (1578). Inside the church, too, renovations were carried out from time to time, such as the baroque interior decoration from 1647. St. Stephen’s Cathedral has four towers, the highest being the south tower, completed in 1433, with a height of 136.4 meters. The eleven bells that make up the main ringing of the cathedral are also located here. For a long time the south tower was considered the measure of all things – at least in church construction, because in the former Austria-Hungary no church tower could be built that was higher than the south tower.

The history of the Vienna Hofburg was shaped by the Habsburg dynasty for over 640 years. Your emperors and kings were at home here: first as Austrian rulers, then as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and from 1806 to 1918 as emperors of Austria. Today the building is the official residence of the Austrian Federal President. The oldest parts of the Hofburg date from the 13th century, but in the following years each emperor expanded the castle, so that the complex developed into a “city within the city”. Today it consists of 18 wings, 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms. The oldest part of the Hofburg is the Old Castle, which is now called the Swiss Wing; the youngest – and most impressive – part is the NeueHofburg, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century as part of the by Gottfried Semper (* 1803, † 1879) and Karl Hasenauer (* 1833, † 1894) planned »Kaiserforum« was established. In the 18th century, Emperor Charles VI. (* 1685, † 1740) expand the Hofburg with magnificent baroque buildings. The national library with its baroque interior was also built during his reign.

Old Town of Vienna (World Heritage)

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