From Gothic to Classicist – the Ringstrasse brings together all the major architectural styles
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In 2015, the Ringstrasse in Vienna is celebrating a major anniversary: The most beautiful boulevard in the world will turn 150 this year. There are more representative buildings, palaces, and parks along the Vienna Ring than anywhere else.
Emperor Franz Joseph opened the Ringstrasse on May 1, 1865, initiating the greatest municipal building project of the age. In the years to follow, magnificent buildings arose that shape the Vienna Ring to this day. Imperial commissions led, for example, to the construction of the Vienna State Opera, the Burgtheater, the Neue Burg, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Museum of Natural History. The Parliament, the University and City Hall were a reflection of the new democratic trends. The wealthy haute bourgeoisie built their prestigious palaces in the spaces in between. All of these buildings are now among the sights on the Ringstrasse.
The street, which is 5.3 kilometers long and 56 meters wide, was an elegant promenade for the upper classes. Today it is open to everyone, as is evident from such annual events as the Vienna City Marathon or the Rainbow Parade. Along the Danube Canal the Vienna Ring is also a hot spot for the youthful urban scene as well as modern architecture.
The Vienna tram began operations in 1868 as a horse-drawn train on the Ring. Operations were converted to electrical power in 1898. In order to prevent overhead power lines from obstructing the Ring’s beauty, the Vienna tram’s railcars were equipped with batteries.
About 800 buildings line the boulevard today. Additional sights on the Ringstrasse, aside from the many opulent buildings, include the black-gold lattice fence in front of the Hofburg, the world’s longest fence from the age of Historicism, the 5.5-meter-tall Pallas Athene statue in front of the Parliament, and the “Rathausmann”, a statue of a man on the tower of City Hall.
Vienna will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Ringstrasse with numerous events in 2015.