May 17 / Video / This is Vienna Calling: The Austrian Parliament
Vasil Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
VIENNA, AUSTRIA – The team of oikotimes.com is in Vienna and besides the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, our editor Vassilis Karelas prepared a series of videos to explore the city of Vienna, host city of the 60th Eurovision edition. In this video we explore The Austrian Parliament.
The site for the new building was on the city’s ancient fortifications and walls. In his famous decree Es ist Mein Wille of 1857, Emperor Franz Joseph I had laid down plans for the Ringstraße to replace the old city walls. The parliament building was supposed to feature prominently on the boulevard, in close proximity to Hofburg Palace and the Vienna City Hall.
An Imperial Commission was appointed to consider a design for a Parliament building. Influenced by the industrialist and politician Nikolaus Dumba, the Commission decided that its style should be classical, the argument being that classical Greek architecture was appropriate for a Parliament because of the connection to the Ancient Greeks and the ideal of democracy. After studying rival proposals, the Imperial Commission chose the plan by Theophil Hansen, who could rely on his drafts for Zappeion Hall in Athens. In 1869 the k.k. Ministry of the Interior gave von Hansen the order to design the new Austrian parliament building.
Ground was broken on June 1874; the cornerstone has the date “2 September 1874“ etched into it. At the same time, work also commenced on the nearby Kunsthistorisches Museum and Naturhistorisches Museum on Maria-Theresien-Platz, the City Hall, and the University. In November 1883 the offices of the House of Representatives were completed and put to use. On 4 December 1883 the House of Representatives held its first session under its president, Franz Smolka. On 16 December 1884 the House of Lords under its president, Count Trauttmansdorff, held its first session. Both chambers would continue to meet in the building until the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.
The official name of the building was Reichsratsgebäude (Imperial Council Building), and the street behind the building, the Reichsratsstraße, still recalls this former name. The word “Parliament” however was in use since the beginning as well.