150 years of the Ringstrasse
Vienna's Ringstrasse is the most beautiful boulevard in the world. Nowhere else can you find such a dense concentration of so many representative buildings, palaces and parks. In 2015, the Ringstrasse is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
Kaiser Franz Joseph inaugurated Vienna's Ringstrasse on May 1, 1865. The boulevard was built where gigantic city walls once protected Vienna’s imperial center from her enemies. Now the greatest municipal planning design of the time was going to be implemented: buildings of imperial and democratic significance alternated with the palaces of the aspiring bourgeoisie.
An imperial decree led to the construction of such buildings as the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Vienna State Opera, the Neue Burg, and the Burgtheater. The Parliament, City Hall and the university arose as “buildings for the people”.
The Jewish population, which had received full legal rights in the second half of the nineteenth century, had the opportunity to purchase property along the Ringstrasse and build grand palaces (such as Palais Ephrussi and Palais Epstein). Twenty-seven cafés were located on the Ringstrasse at its zenith. Around 1900 Vienna was one of Europe’s largest cities and had also become the world’s music capital: the waltzes and operettas of the Strauss dynasty achieved world fame.
The best architects of the time were responsible for the appearance of the Ringstrasse today: Theophil von Hansen, Heinrich von Ferstel, Gottfried Semper and Carl von Hasenauer. Their buildings were constructed in Historicism style.
All of these splendid buildings still have their full radiance today. The “Ring” has changed though in the course of the last 150 years. An elegant promenade for the wealthy and beautiful has become a modern boulevard for everyone. Numerous events take place here every year – from the Rainbow Parade to the Vienna City Marathon. And the section of the Ring along the Danube Canal has become a hotspot: an urban bar scene and modern architecture attract a primarily young audience.
The 150th anniversary of Vienna's Ringstrasse is being celebrated in 2015. Numerous institutions have planned a special program: The Secession devotes itself to the history of its own building (19 March – 11 October 2015). The Jewish Museum in Vienna broaches another set of issues in the Jewish Story of the Ring (25 March to 4 October 2015). The Waschsalon in the Karl-Marx-Hof presents the show “The Ringstrasse of the Proletariat. An alternative design” (21 May – 20 December 2015). The Vienna Architekturzentrum shows construction in Vienna under National Socialism, including changes to the Ringstrasse (19 March – 6 July 2015).
From 22 May to 1 November 2015, the National Library shows the transformation of Vienna into a metropolis in the exhibition “Vienna becomes a metropolis. The Ringstrasse and its time”. The show “The Ring. Pioneering years of a magnificent boulevard from 1857 to 1865”, which deals with the early days of the boulevard, starts at the Vienna Museum on 11 June 2015. Summer in the Lower Belvedere is all about “Klimt and the Ringstrasse” (3 July – 11 October 2015). The Vienna Library in City Hall reports on “The Making of the Vienna Ringstrasse” (30 April – 13 November 2015). There are special tours on offer in the MuseumsQuartier Vienna, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, in the Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection) and in the Sigmund Freud Museum. The Museum of Natural History is expanding its roof tours (with a grand view of the Ringstrasse) from April to the end of 2015. The University of Vienna celebrates its 650th birthday in 2015. The Vienna Ring Tram circles the entire Ring in 25 minutes and offers exciting information in seven languages.
Top things to do
Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family, is one of Europe's most impressive Baroque palace complexes. Spend an entire day at Schönbrunn: visit the show rooms with a
"Grand Tour with Audio Guide" and admire the splendid Bergl Rooms. Take a walk through the enchanting park, stroll through the maze and stop at the Gloriette for a cup of coffee and apple
Meeting Place MuseumsQuartier
The MuseumsQuartier (MQ) is one of the ten largest cultural quarters in the world. Located at the border of the old city in the former imperial stables, it combines institutions of different art
fields such as the Leopold Museum with its masterworks of Austrian modern art or the mumok – Museum of Modern Art. Trendy restaurants and cafés as well as shops can also be found in this
About 250 attractions entertain you at the Vienna Prater, from a nostalgic merry-go-round to an ultra-modern roller coaster, from ghost trains to flight simulators. A ride on the famous Giant Ferris Wheel provides a phantastic view of the city from almost 200 feet up. The adjacent Green Prater with an area of six million square meters offers an ideal environment for relaxing strolls, brisk hikes, bicycle and skating trips, and much more.
A visit to Vienna, the city of music, won’t be complete without a concert evening at the Musikverein. The concert hall contains the world-famous Golden Hall, in which the Wiener Philharmoniker celebrate the New Year's Concert every year - attracting a television audience of millions around the globe. The Musikverein offers wonderful concerts with eminent orchestras and conductors throughout the rest of the year as well.
The city’s wonderful markets offer a typically Viennese shopping experience. This is where Vienna lives up to its legendary reputation as a melting pot of nations: Viennese humour blends with eastern European charm, and oriental flair with Mediterranean temperament. Vienna's markets are about much more than just shopping. They are the lifeblood of the districts they serve, attracting a young, creative and lively scene. This is perfectly illustrated by three Viennese institutions - the Naschmarkt, Karmelitermarkt and Brunnenmarkt.