Historic Centre of Vienna
Historic Centre Of Vienna
Cultural Austria Europe And North America Vienna

The urban and architectural qualities of the Historic Centre of Vienna bear outstanding witness to a continuing interchange of values throughout the 2nd millennium AD. 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 Vienna.

The property consists of the medieval core (based on the Roman settlement), the principal Baroque ensembles with their axes, and the Gründerzeit constructions from the beginning of the modern period. The city of Vienna is situated on the Danube in the eastern part of Austria. The ancient Roman military camp, traces of which are still visible in the medieval urban fabric of present-day Vienna, was situated on a plain, west of an old branch of the Danube.

Beginning in the 12th century, the settlement expanded beyond the Roman defences, which were demolished. The medieval town walls surrounded a much larger area;they were rebuilt during the Ottoman conflicts in the 16th and 17th centuries and provided with bastions. This remained the core of Vienna until the walls were demolished in the second half of the 19th century. This inner city contains a number of medieval historic 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. St Stephen's Cathedral dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The period also saw the construction of civic ensembles, such as initial parts of the Hofburg. Whereas the monastic complexes were generally built from stone, becoming part of the defences of the medieval city, the residential quarters were of timber and suffered frequent fires.

In 1683, Vienna developed rapidly as the capital of the Habsburg Empire, becoming an impressive Baroque city. The Baroque character was expressed particularly in the large palace layouts built under Emperor Charles VI (1711-40) and Maria Theresa (1740-80), 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 buildings are now associated with the important Viennese residence of personalities such as Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and others, when the city 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.

A new phase in the history of Vienna took place when the 34 suburbs were incorporated with the city, and the emperor ordered the demolition of the fortifications around the inner city. This opportunity was taken in order 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 Neue Hofburg, an 'imperial forum', and joined with large museum complexes into a single ensemble. The burgtheater, the parliament, the town hall, and the university formed another ensemble linked with these. 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 walls. The late 19th and early 20th centuries testify to further creative contributions by Viennese designers, artists, and architects in the period of Jugendstil, Secession and the early Modern Movement of the 20th century in architecture.