The epic architecture of Vienna
Vienna’s architecture is a magical fusion of periods and styles, with opulent Baroque palaces that evoke the grandeur and glory of the Habsburg Empire like in Heldenplatz with the Hofburg Palace (picture on top) standing alongside Otto Wagner’s Art Nouveau and Modernist masterpieces. The city of Vienna is home to a number of epic architectural ensembles and fashions, from the classical Baroque designs to the more bizarre modern creations, such as the world-famous Hundertwasserhaus. Art Nouveau was a popular architectural style during the 19th century, and post-war Vienna saw many interesting structures pop up. Here’s our pick of the most interesting to visit.
This magnificent curved building stands, striking and unmissable, in the suburban 23rd district on the outskirts of Vienna. It is a curiously futuristic, sprawling and intimidating structure, designed in the 1970s by progressive Austrian architect, Harry Glück. This social housing complex was built with the radical idea of creating homes for the poor, with all the benefits that the wealthy favour. Inside this incredible structure are all the necessary amenities: shops, a doctors surgery and even a swimming pool on the roof. Many thousands of people reside in Alterlaa and it is seen as one of Vienna’s most successful social housing estates.
These former gas tanks have been transformed into luxury housing. Located in the Simmering area, the 90.000 storage capacity structures were used to supply the local area with gas from 1896. Now protected historical landmarks, the spherical buildings have become flats and ‘villages.’ They have become a phenomenon in the architectural world, with numerous academic works being written on the subject of the Gasometers.
The mesmerising multicoloured mosaic roof tiles of this Gothic style Cathedral is remarkable to behold. It is a true masterpiece; you could spend hours gazing at it and still pick out something new. A fire during WWII caused extensive damage to the building, but mass restoration and rebuilding gave the cathedral a new lease of life. The Stephansdome draws nearly 3 million visitors through its door each year, making it one of Vienna’s best-loved attractions.
This is one of Vienna’s modernist masterpieces and was designed by architect Otto Wagner. It is currently the site of the Austrian Postal Savings Bank. Besides its somewhat drab function, the architectural landscape of the Postsparkasse is a sight to behold, with a famous modernist style.
Often on the front of tourist guide books to Vienna, this kaleidoscopic apartment building is a focal point of Viennese architecture, designed as an antidote to modernist architecture. The eccentrically decorated facade is other-worldly; seeming to belong in an expressionist painting. What lies inside must, unfortunately, be left up to the imagination, as it is restricted to the public, although tourists can visit the adjacent Hundertwasser Village.
Not necessarily the ‘best’, but certainly interesting, these 3 imposing structures were constructed by the Nazis during the Second World War, with the purpose of keeping enemies at bay. The Austrian Republic has since then optimistically transformed them into forces for good; an aquarium lives inside one and another has an outdoor climbing wall on one side. Threatening and domineering, they are severe and curious eyesores that puncture the beautiful scope of the city and remind those passing by of Austria’s once ominous history.
An excellent example of Art Nouveau architecture in Vienna, this grand building is the exhibition hall that houses many of Austria’s most revered artistic triumphs. The glittering golden orb and clean white walls are beautiful to behold. Built in 1897, when the first president of the building was Austria’s symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, who had much involvement with the gallery throughout his life.
MUMOK and the Museumsquartier
Concrete breezeblocks were the chosen material for this contemporary art museum, giving it a bold and imposing exterior. It is part of the Museum’s Quartier, an ambitious architectural project that marries together some of the city’s most popular art galleries. The courtyard also serves as an excellent hang-out spot for locals and tourists in the summer.
This grand glasshouse is the largest of its kind in Europe and lives on the grounds of Schönbrunn Park. It is a green paradise inside, with horticulture from around the world. Created in 1881 by Franz Xaver Segenschmid, the pavilions have multiple ‘climate zones’ which regulate the temperature for the plants, a ‘cold house’ for the north and a ‘tropical zone’ in the south.
Where to Stay
Former brothel located in a district, at the time, infamous, Hotel Beethoven Vienna is now a charming boutique-hotel located in the heart of the cultural and nightlife of the Austrian capital, as well as in the lively and bohemian nest of the Naschmarkt, in a historical building dated of 1902, which has remained intact and original until today. At the Hotel Beethoven Vienna you wake up in design environments and with refined elegance. Through corridors with black damask walls illuminated with soft light you can reach the spacious and bright rooms, all renovated with love and furnished with taste and attention to detail, consistency and respect to the chosen theme, always linked to Viennese tradition and culture by the owner, Barbara Ludwig, originally from Vienna. And the soul of the Hotel Beethoven Vienna is undoubtedly Barbara, a true lover of design, fashion, art and all that is beauty.
Each floor of the hotel is dedicated to different themes like a personality of Vienna, an event, an era …6 floors, all different, with 47 different rooms, with styles ranging from Biedermeier to Art Nouveau, so beloved in Vienna. The 47 rooms absorb all the elegant and somewhat ironic charm of Vienna. They stand out among themselves and are thus able to satisfy the tastes of the every guests. Bright and recently renovated, all the rooms of Hotel Beethoven Vienna are equipped with every comfort with the aim to render any stay unforgettable. All the rooms on the sixth floor are inspired by personalities of Austrian history with combinations expressly conceived to guarantee originality, following the concept that these rooms express the essence of Vienna: a city to love, glitzy, original, often also a bit irreverent.
Worthy of note is the rich breakfast served in the mezzanine of the hotel with a very exclusive view of the Papageno gate of the Theater an der Wien, where Beethoven made his debut for the first time with his Fidelio. Guests can enjoy a beautiful outdoor patio, not only for breakfast. In the lounge of Hotel Beethoven Vienna, there are tea and coffee facilities 24 hours a day and close by the hotel, there are several restaurants and bars to suit all tastes and budgets.