A Travel Guide to the Ringstraße - Part I

The brilliant on the Ring: The Houses of Parliament in the West of the Ringstraße, Vienna

The Ringstraße is Vienna′s 19th century representative boulevard and as such packed with ugly, pompous buildings of National or even International Significance. They concentrate a great deal of the average tourist′s attention, proven by vast numbers of people that tour the Ringstraße up and down pretty much all year round. The "Ring Road" was built after the demolition of the old city walls in the 1860ies.

The Vienna Stock Exchange by Theophil Hansen.

In this article, I try to cover most of the attractions with references (meaning: links) to the main articles for individual sights. Let′s start at the northern end of the Ringstraße. Here you can find the Ringturm Tower. It was built between 1953 and 1955, at a time when war damages were still very present in Vienna. Thus, the Ringturm was an important sign and source of inspiration after the miserable years during and following WWII.

The tower houses the offices for a Viennese insurance company, is 93 meters high and was the first skyscraper in Austria - with very few following since then. The site on which the Ringturm was erected was bombed and so the space was vacant, again adding to the image of rebuilding the city.

Guide to Vienna′s Pompous Boulevard

The Ringturm is the second-highest building of the first district after Stephansdom Cathedral and was refurbished in 1996. On the roof top there are seventeen lights installed that show signals for the next days′ weather report. The signals are red light rising or falling (temperature rising or falling, respectively); green light rising or falling (weather improving or worsening, respectively); red light blinking (thunderstorm); and white light blinking (snow or frost).

The Votivkirche in 19th century neo-Gothic style.

Leaving the Ringturm behind, walk by the Rossauer Kaserne, the Börse Stock Exchange and the Votivkirche. The next building is the Vienna University, and just to its opposite you can see the Mölker Bastei. This bastion is one of the very few that are left of the originally very impressive 16th century city walls.

The Viennese were very fond of their city walls, since these walls saved their neck twice during the Turkish Sieges. When they were finally dismantled in the 19th century to create space for the Ringstraße, they had lost their strategic use. Behind the bastion, you can see the Pasqualatihaus where Beethoven used to live for a few years. His flat is now a "Musikerwohnung" museum maintained by the Wien Museum. Right behind it you find the 19th century "Dreimäderlhaus". Move on to see the Rathaus City Hall, one of Vienna′s key landmarks.

Approaching the Hofburg Imperial Palace

Just before the Burgtheater, you can see the Café Landtmann, one of Vienna′s poshest and most traditional cafes where you are likely to meet actors from the theatre next doors. Behind the Burgtheater, you can see the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein, the second Viennese palace of the Princes of Liechtenstein, with the other one being the Palais Liechtenstein Museum. Speaking of museums: Between Landtmann and Stadtpalais Liechtenstein, you can see the MOYA (Museum of Young Art).

The Hofburg Palace, the most pompous of the Ringstrße Buildings.

Keep on walking and you will pass the Volksgarten Park and Heldenplatz, the Houses of Parliament and the Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg. Standing at the Burgtor Gate (which was built under the reign of Emperor Franz I of Austria to commemorate the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig, where Napoleon got his butt kicked for the first time), you can see the Minoritenkirche and the Ballhaus in front of it.

This is where the Chancellor of Austria resides, his neighbour in the Hofburg is - supposedly works - Austria′s president.

Go to: "Ringstraße, Part I - Part II - Part III"

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Vienna by District

District Overview - 1st (Innere Stadt) - 2nd (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd (Landstraße) - 4th (Wieden) - 5th (Margareten)- 6th (Mariahilf) - 7th (Neubau) - 8th (Josefstadt) - 9th (Alsergrund) - 10th (Favoriten) - 11th (Simmering) - 12th (Meidling) - 13th (Hietzing) - 14th (Penzing) - 15th (Fünfhaus) - 16th (Ottakring) - 17th (Hernals) - 18th (Währing) - 19th (Döbling) - 20th (Brigittenau) - 21st (Floridsdorf) - 22nd (Donaustadt) - 23rd (Liesing) -  Ringstraße - Surroundings

Further Reading

Sightseeing Map of Vienna

Wikipedia on the Ringstraße

Nice, hand-crafted website on the Ringstraße