The Austrian Parliament, on Vienna’s Ringstrasse, was designed by architect Theophil Hansen and was constructed between 1874 and 1884.
Hansen also designed Vienna's Musikverein as well as Vienna's Museum Of Military History, which we visited last summer and about which Joshua wrote in September.
I have always believed that the Austrian Parliament building is one of the great disasters of 19th-Century Greek Revival architecture. (Hansen's Museum Of Military History, admittedly in a vastly-different architectural style, is also, in my view, a very, very bad building.)
The building is fundamentally unimaginative, the sternest of all criticisms for a major architectural project. It is far too large for its setting, ignobly proportioned, overdressed and over-adorned, and lacking grace. The gargantuan and ostentatious carriageway itself ruins the structure. The Parliament is the biggest eyesore on the Ringstrasse.
The Austrian Parliament is almost impressive the first five seconds the viewer encounters the building, but the viewer quickly comes to realize that the building single-handedly ruins an entire large swath of the Ringstrasse.
When Josh’s family first saw the building last August 5, the looks on their faces were priceless: smiles quickly turned to grimaces, and Josh’s mother said, “This must be Disney’s idea of a Parliament building.”
Half of the Parliament building was totally destroyed during World War II, a great public service on the part of American bomber squadrons.
Alas, the post-war Austrian government decided to reconstruct the building, and the Parliament building was rebuilt and restored between 1945 and 1956. Interior artworks are still being restored to this very day.
Below is an old postcard of the Austrian Parliament from 1900.
In the late stages of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a rule of thumb arose: the more the Empire decayed, the grander must be the facades of the buildings.