Home' Get Up and Go : Summer 2015 Contents Lined with some of Austria's most
imposing and authoritarian
buildings, Vienna's Ringstrasse
is pausing its perambulations after
150 years to pat itself on the back and
puff up for the pomp and ceremony it
was intended to display from the time
of the creation's blossoming...
When the emperor decided to do
something, there was no stopping him.
Emperor Franz Josef was a man of vision
and culture for his beloved Vienna, and
when he ordered the city fortification
walls of old Vienna razed in 1857 it
happened. The glorious Ringstrasse
was completed in 1865 and was lauded
across Europe for its modernity in urban
planning to such a scale.
The Ringstrasse (Ring) is just over
one kilometre long (round) and
57m wide. With the advent of such an
important boulevard came the glories
of 'modern' architecture of the 19th
century. Buildings here were designed
by the greatest architects of the day.
Included in the esteemed list are:
Gottfried Semper, Carl von Hasenauer
and Heinrich von Ferstel. Otto Wagner
built an Art Nouveau Austrian Post
Savings Bank. Modern building
materials materialised throughout
the construction of these new-style
monumental edifices -- they shot up as
quick as you can scoff a Viennese coffee
with change and immediacy in the air.
Old and new aristocracy built side
by side and in 1867 full civil rights
were granted to the capital's Jewish
citizens -- so the Ring became an equal
opportunity housing project! But it
was the upper classes who transformed
Vienna into a European hub for the
arts as cashed up Viennese burghers
became the modern day patrons/
sponsors of artists and institutions and
residents of the Ring.
Industrial magnates, artists and
intellectuals all converged on Vienna
to become stitches in this new, bold
fabric of Viennese society.
During the past 150 years the
Ring has witnessed the end of the
Austro-Hungarian monarchy, 'the
proclamation of the First Republic,
Adolf Hitler's march on Vienna and
the reconstruction and economic
miracle after WWII.
Today it entices tourists like bees
to honey. The beautiful and vibrant
city continues to enthrall all who visit
her. Continually reinventing herself,
polishing up the old with fresh new
paint it holds on to the very traditions
that are the solid foundation of
Opera, music and the arts -- they all
thrive as if in a hothouse.
The best way to feel the past and the
present along the Ring is to stroll it.
Enjoy the passing parade of history
as you pass the Rathausplatz, the
banks and self-important residential
buildings, with elegant rooms that
hosted the famous Viennese salons
and the significant appearance of
The Parliament. Many cities have
boulevards but there's a certain kitschy
charm of being able to do a circuit of
the city on the Ringstrasse that is quite
an individual feat.
The circuit is not a museum, despite
the abundance of fine and dandy
architecture, it is a moveable feast.
Never dull, never still -- life moves
on around and around Vienna's
Ringstrasse -- a never-ending waltz
in time with today's sensibility and
yesterday's glories. •
The writer was a guest of the Austrian
National Tourist Board and flew to
Europe courtesy of Cathay Pacific.
During 2015 Vienna will be alive
with many events to celebrate
the 150th anniversary of the
Go to Exhibitions of the
Jubilee year: [@] www.
Get your bearings
Ringstrasse walking tour -- view
the official civic buildings,
coffee house, noble palaces
and bourgeois residences and
the Danube Canal. Learn the
history of the Ring and the
significant buildings such as
the Palais Ephrussi, featured
in Edmund de Waal's The Hare
with Amber Eyes.
Jump on a Fiaker -- see
the Ringstrasse from a
different angle via a horse-
drawn carriage, giving you
an overview of the entire
Visit the Wien Museum -- from
11 June 2015, an exhibition
The Ring: Genesis of a
Showpiece Boulevard 1857 --
1865, will track the boulevard's
beginnings, from the planning
stages to the opening.
Afterwards -- have an evening
cocktail at Le Loft Bar at the
Sofitel, a building of pure
architectural beauty overlooking
the Danube Canal and the
Ringstrasse. Visit: [@] www.
sofitel.com/Vienna; [@] www.
[@] www.austria.info; [@]
PHOTO BY WIENTOURISMUS / MANFRED HORVATH
Art Nouveau: Postsparkasse,
Angel on the roof.
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