Friday, January 22, 2016

Past POIs - Austrian Parliament Building [Vienna, Austria]

During our Europe trip in 2015, we visited the Austrian Parliament Building (which I labelled as Vienna Parliament in prior posts) and it was quite the surprise stop for me in Vienna. We stopped here in time for the public guided tour which at the time was 5,00 € and lasts roughly 55 minutes, available in both German and English. You are given a headset to use and feel free to bring your own headphones because you can use your own headphones with the headset.

Yup, inside parliament!
Construction started in 1874 and was completed in 1883 with the design of almost everything by Theophil Hansen. The building is designed with a Greek style in mind and not only did Hansen design the building, he was also responsible for the statues, paintings, furniture, light fixtures and other items! And yes, the fountain that is out front is also by Hansen as well, although it was built later with construction beginning in 1898 and completion in 1902.

Fountain outside parliament with parliament in the background.
This parliament building is where the President of Austria gets sworn-in and where the state speeches takes place. During World War II, it sustained heavy damage, however it has since been restored to its original state. But, you will notice that some things are not perfect and it is a remainder of what happened in the past. One such area is in the Colonnaded Hall, where you will notice that the columns aren't all of the same stone and they are patched where they were damaged.

Yup, this is inside parliament!
When I did research on the site, I'm glad that we made it when we did. Starting in 2017, they will renovate the parliament building to deal with issues like leaky roofs, ventilation and electrical system upgrades. This also includes removing building damages and repurposing unused spaces which means that the Parliament Building that we saw, may not exist in the future. Looking at the concept images of this makes it look very modern and it loses, in my opinion, what wowed me when I visited. However, it is entirely possible that these modern looks are in separate areas. You can read more about it here: Austrian Parliament renovations.

Yes, this is actually inside the parliament building.
While I could write about all the places that we saw, I will comment about the one that struck me as the most awe inspiring. I think that this is likely due to my expectations (which was, oh, a boring government building), when I walked in and saw the Colonnaded Hall, I felt like I was transported back to Italy where I saw the Pantheon. As you enter, a hall opens up at 40 m by 24 m where you will see 24 Corinthian marble columns which weigh a staggering 16 tons EACH. These columns support the ceiling and the glass roof above. If you come during the day, it is so well light, it was beautiful.

Colonnaded Hall.
If you are here, definitely try to plan to take a tour here. I don't know if there is a space limitation, but when we went, we just walked to the visitor center and just paid for the next available tour. You can check on their website when the tours are. Oh, and oddly, like most places that we visit, this is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Come back next Friday for another Past Point of Interest!