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Colorful tiles on the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna

Vienna Media News 12/2014 Anniversary: 150 years of the Ringstrasse

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The history of the Ringstrasse begins on 20 December 1857, when Emperor Franz Joseph ordered the fortifications surrounding Vienna’s city centre to be demolished, and for a boulevard complete with showpiece buildings to be constructed on the grounds in front of the old walls and towers which had previously been used by the military. The biggest public construction project in Vienna’s history, the Ringstrasse formed a link between the city centre – dominated by the imperial residence and the palaces of the aristocracy – with the surrounding districts inhabited by the middle and lower classes. At the same time, this huge development met the demands created by a rapidly growing population. Finally, the construction of the Ringstrasse marked the transformation of the capital from the historic residence of the Habsburg monarchy to a European metropolis.

On May 1, 1865 Emperor Franz Joseph officially opened Vienna’s Ringstrasse. But completion of the boulevard was still a long way off, with building work set to continue for more than half a century. The biggest name architects of the day such as Theophil von Hansen, Heinrich von Ferstel, Gottfried Semper and Carl von Hasenauer put their stamp on the Ringstrasse. Its predominantly historicist style comprises idealized interpretations of various historic architectural styles. Today, the buildings on the Ringstrasse are among the city’s most important sights, with highlights including monuments to imperial pomp such as the Vienna State Opera, Burgtheater, Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Museum of Natural History. It is also lined with buildings that gave expression to the population’s emerging democratic self-image including the Parliament, City Hall and University. And finally the upper middle classes – particularly well-to-do Jewish families – added their own monuments in the form of mansion houses such as Palais Epstein, Palais Todesco and Palais Ephrussi, which would host exclusive salons. During its heyday the Ringstrasse was lined by no fewer than 27 coffeehouses.

The impressive parks and gardens lining the boulevard continue to provide a haven of relaxation for the capital’s population to this day. The Ringstrasse’s squares and buildings also host a year-round series of events including the Christmas Market and Music Film Festival on Rathausplatz, the Life Ball at City Hall and much more besides. In 2015 the Austrian capital will mark the showpiece boulevard’s anniversary with numerous exhibitions. Visit to find out more about 150 Years of the Ringstrasse. Press photos are available at (“150 Years of the Ringstrasse” button).

We would like to thank everyone who helped to make this video possible:

  • City of Vienna
  • Vienna Ring Tram / Wiener Linien
  • Austrian Federal Gardens
  • Museum Of Natural History
  • Urania observatory
  • Kursalon Wien


Vienna Tourist Board
Verena Hable
Media Relations
Tel. (+ 43 1) 211 14-363



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