Historic Centre of Vienna

 Austria
Vienna
N48 13 0 E16 22 60
Date of Inscription: 2001
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Property : 371 ha
Buffer zone: 462 ha
Ref: 1033
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Vienna developed from early Celtic and Roman settlements into a Medieval and Baroque city, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, as well as the late-19th-century Ringstrasse lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.

Vienna, situated on the Danube River in the eastern part of Austria, developed from early Celtic and Roman settlements into a medieval and Baroque city, eventually becoming the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It played an essential role as the leading European music centre, hosting major personalities in the development of music from the 16th to the 20th centuries, particularly Viennese Classicism and Romanticism, consolidating Vienna’s reputation as the ‘musical capital’ of Europe. Vienna is also rich in architectural ensembles, particularly Baroque mansions and gardens as well as the late 19th-century Ringstrasse ensemble lined with grand buildings, monuments, and parks. The property consists of the city’s medieval core (based on the Roman settlement), the principal Baroque ensembles with their axial layouts, and the Gründerzeit constructions from the beginning of the modern period.

At the beginning of the 12th century the settlement here expanded beyond the Roman defences, which were demolished. During the Ottoman conflicts in the 16th and 17th centuries, the medieval town’s walls, which surrounded a much larger area, were rebuilt and provided with bastions. This remained the core of Vienna until the medieval walls were demolished in the second half of the 19th century. The inner city contains a number of medieval-era buildings, including the Schottenkloster, the oldest monastery in Austria, the churches of Maria am Gestade (one of the main Gothic structures), Michaelerkirche, Minoritenkirche and Minoritenkloster from the 13th century, and St Stephen’s Cathedral, which dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The same period also saw the construction of civic ensembles, such as initial parts of the Hofburg Palace. Whereas the monastic complexes were generally built of stone, becoming part of the defences of the medieval city, the residential quarters were of timber and suffered frequent fires.

In 1683, Vienna became the capital of the Habsburg Empire and developed rapidly, becoming an impressive Baroque city. The Baroque character was expressed particularly in the large palace layouts such as the Belvedere Palace and garden ensemble. A growing number of new palaces were built by noble families, many existing medieval buildings, churches, and convents were altered and given Baroque features, and additions were made to representative administrative buildings. Several historic Viennese buildings are now associated with the residences of important personalities such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, when the city played an essential role as a leading European centre for music.

A new phase in the history of Vienna took place when its 34 suburbs were incorporated into the city and the emperor ordered the demolition of the fortifications around the inner city. The opportunity was taken to create one of the most significant 19th-century ensembles in the history of urban planning, which greatly influenced the rest of Europe in this crucial period of social and economic development. In 1874, the Hofburg complex was extended with the addition of the Neue Hofburg, an ‘Imperial Forum’, and joined with large museum complexes into a single ensemble. The Burgtheater, parliament, town hall, and university formed another ensemble linked with these structures. To this was added the opera house as well as a large number of public and private buildings along the Ringstrasse, on the line of the demolished city walls. The late 19th and early 20th centuries testify to further creative contributions by Viennese designers, artists, and architects in the periods of the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), the Secession, and the early Modern Movement in architecture.

Criterion (ii)The urban and architectural qualities of the Historic Centre of Vienna bear outstanding witness to a continuing interchange of values throughout the second millennium. 

Criterion (iv)Three key periods of European cultural and political development – the Middle Ages, the Baroque period, and the Gründerzeit – are exceptionally well illustrated by the urban and architectural heritage of the Historic Centre of Vienna.

Criterion (vi)Since the 16th century Vienna has been universally acknowledged to be the musical capital of Europe.

Suggested Bases:

Vienna (German: Wien; Austro-Bavarian: Wean) is the capital of the Republic of Austria and by far its most populous city, with an urban population of 1.9 million and a metropolitan population of 2.4 million. It is by far the largest city in Austria and the country’s artistic, cultural, economic and political centre. It is known for its high living standards, relaxed yet elegant lifestyle and rich musical life. The thing about Vienna is that it not only is a large city, but that it has always been – as the former home of the Habsburg court and its various empires, it has always housed a large population and enjoyed a privileged position, being home to many artists, especially composers including Beethoven, Haydn, Liszt, Mozart, Schubert and Johann Strauss II. It was long the largest German-speaking city in the world before being surpassed by Berlin. The large historic city centre of Vienna filled with monuments to its imperial past is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List [read more].

St. Pölten is a city with about 50,000 inhabitants in Lower Austria. Geographically it is located between the Bohemian Massif and the Türnitz Alps. Many people consider St. Pölten to be a city of low touristic interest. Anyway its high living standard and the convenient location make it a place worthwhile to hang out some time and relax, e. g. at the lakes or to undertake some day trips [read more].

Graz is the capital of Styria (Steiermark) and the second largest city of Austria with a population of just below 300,000 – about 40,000 of which are students of its six universities. It has been a vital urban centre for both Styria, Austria and Slovenia, and has produced a number of talents in many fields, ranging from the inventor Nikola Tesla to the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Graz maintains a balance between its illustrious past and modern present and features spectacular architecture from all periods, while the warm and sunny climate influenced by the closeness to the Mediterranean makes it a very nice city to visit. The roots of Graz can be traced back to Roman times, when a small fort was built where the city centre is today; Slovenians later built a larger fortress in the same place. The name “Graz” is derived from the Slovenian word gradec, which means small castle [read more].

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