Vienna Photos: Postsparkasse (Art Nouveau Building)
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This is almost the last picture showing something of Art Nouveau or Jugendstil, I promise. Here you can see the entrance area of the Postsparkasse, a 1906 building by Otto Wagner that has an angel on top that you will see two pictures further down the gallery. Since I will describ the Postsparkasse as such with that picture, let me now say a few words about the elderly gentlemen who you can see in the background of the photo: Emperor Franz Joseph I, in English sometimes called Francis Joseph I of Austria-Hungary.
On a trip to Vienna, numerous encounters with Franz Josef are inevitable - he was ruler over Austria from 1848 to his death in 1916, an extremely important and shaping period for Vienna (and the rest of the Habsburg Empire). It was upon Franz Josef′s order that the city walls of Vienna were demolished in the 1860ies and the Ringstraße was developed with its current array of historicist, representative houses.
This gave a completely new face to Vienna and influenced construction activities elsewhere in Central Europe. Especially the era between 1860 and 1873 was dominated by a rapid economic development and Vienna in the modern sense was more or less invented - the city grew to the fifth-largest settlement in the World with more residents than today. Politically, Franz Josef was extremely conservative, a reactionary fond of the military, the Catholic church and absolutist power. Privately, he was married with the legendary Empress Elisabeth ("Sisi"), but also a notorious cheater (often encouraged to take concubines by his wife). In retrospect of today′s touristy Vienna, Franz Josef is usually depicted as the kind old man you see in the bust on the picture above.