In 2015, the Vienna Ring Road celebrated its 150th anniversary. Just as long as it enjoys its reputation as a splendid boulevard – even as one of the most beautiful in the world. We, of course, know this and appreciate our Vienna Ring not only because of its urban development and architectural achievements, but also because of its role as one of the main traffic arteries of Vienna.
Was Emperor Franz Joseph I. already aware of this when, in 1857, he gave the decree for the fall of the Wall around the inner city? We do not know it. But the start-up shot for the construction of a boulevard, which was designed in the form of a ring, and which has a decisive influence on the townscape, was doubtless enough. In the course of time, many of Austria’s most important buildings were built along the Ring road: the Parliament, the Town Hall, the University of Vienna and the Vienna State Opera.
By the way, 85 architects from all over Europe submitted their plans for the design of the Vienna Ring Road. Because no one could convince on his own, the Emperor commissioned a commission of his own, including renowned names such as Theophil von Hansen, Heinrich von Ferstel, Gottfried Semper, and Carl von Hasenauer. They influenced the style of the boulevard and its buildings, now known as historicism.
On May 1, 1865, the Vienna Ring Road was officially opened by Emperor Franz Joseph, together with Empress Elisabeth, although not all the construction work had been completed. Because these were heavy work and were finished with great effort. Of course the courtly society and the upper middle class did not have much to do with this – for them; the Ring Road was already the “Stroll Mile” and “Hot Spot”. And actually it has hardly changed to this day…