Vienna City Hall (Austria) - seat of the mayor and city council of Vienna
Location show on map
Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Date of build
1872 - 1883
A building in the Neo-Gothic style which serves as a public utility and houses the city management. Currently, the City Hall is the seat of the mayor and city council of Vienna, as well as other important institutions. Among them is the seat of the Austrian Parliament, called Landtag.
Vienna City Hall was built as the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) and replaced the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) in the city centre. The square in front of the Town Hall is the site of several annual events, the most famous of which is the Christmas market.
The history of the town hall dates back to the end of the 19th century. In 1868 a competition for the best design of the building was announced and 64 famous architects from all over the world took part in it. The winner was the German architect Friedrich von Schmidt, who modeled his design on the Brussels Town Hall. Friedrich von Schmidt previously helped with the construction of Cologne Cathedral.
On 14 June 1873 the cornerstone was laid in the presence of the Emperor. 10 years later, in 1883, the construction was completed.
Before the construction of the Vienna City Hall, Emperor Franz Joseph I ordered that it should not be taller than the votive church measuring 99 metres, so the ambitious architect Friedrich von Schmidt designed a building 97.9 metres high and then placed a 5.4 metre high knight's sculpture on top of the tower. Eventually the Town Hall is 103.3 metres high and is higher than the votive church.
The central element of the town hall is the 103-metre-high tower mentioned above, which ends with Rathausmann - a figure of the Iron Man. To get to the top of the tower it takes 331 steps, but to get to the watchtower it only takes 256 steps, which is a bit easier for those who want to see the city from the air.
The shooting facade is decorated with four smaller 60 m high turrets. The building's façade faces the Ringstrasse. It is an outstanding example of a neo-Gothic building. It looks more like a Gothic cathedral than a city hall.
The building is 152 meters long, 127 meters wide, and has 1575 rooms in its interior.
The basic brick construction was covered with various natural stones such as limestone, slate and marble. The whole structure consists of 7 inner courtyards, 6 floors and 2 underground levels.
Particularly noteworthy are the seven courtyards, the restaurant and the representative hall. In front of the Town Hall there is the Town Hall Square, along which statues of distinguished personalities were built.
The most spectacular parts of the building are the Arkadenhof, a courtyard with an area of almost 3,000 square metres and the Festsaal, a hall 71 metres long, 20 metres wide and almost 20 metres high, used for many events, dances, concerts and receptions.
Opposite the main facade of the building, guests will find magnificent gardens - the Rathauspark, inside of which there are two fountains and many monuments dedicated to figures such as composers Johann Strauss and Joseph Lanner. Numerous events take place systematically every year in these gardens, such as open-air concerts or the popular Christmas market in Christkindlmarkt.
Also noteworthy is the famous Wiener Rathauskeller restaurant located in the basement of this building. This traditional restaurant consists of several Baroque halls, ranging from small traditional Viennese delicacies to hearty and festive buffet gala.
"It was accepted in Vienna and Paris as well that architecture, whether in the form of individual buildings or in the mass, could not only convey information, represent the social and political structure, and express the aspirations of owner and occupier, but serve as an ethical agent, a means of exhortation, a moral statement to the world at large." - Charles Olsen, The City as a Work of Art