The Imperial Heritage


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The Habsburg Dynasty -- following the Babenberger Dynasty who had controlled Austria for nearly 300 years until Duke Friedrich (Frederic) died childless in 1246 -- had gained control of Austria by 1278 and ruled her (and the countries and counties acquired from 1526 onwards, such as Bohemia and Hungary, Moravia, Slovakia, Croatia, parts of what is nowadays Yugoslavia, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine, etc.) as a (multi-ethnic) Dynastic Empire right up until the end of WW I.  Since 1438 (with a few exceptions, and continuously since 1745) members of the Habsburg Dynasty were the Emperors of the "Holy Roman Empire of German Nation" until its expiry in 1806.  In 1804 the Austrian Empire was founded, only to be transformed in 1867 into the "Dual Monarchy" of Austria-Hungary.

Francis Joseph I (1830 - 1916)

Francis Joseph, the second-last Austrian Emperor, was the longest-reigning monarch ever throughout history -- longer than Ramesses II or Tenno Hirohito (68 years on the throne that he had ascended by the age of 18).  By virtue of this extended time-span Francis Joseph had a great impact on the Austrian history, his was a time of rapid changes and developments.  [Link opens a new window.]  It was during his reign that Vienna rose from an old city to a then modern world metropolis.  

Franz Joseph I.

Most of the architectural highlights of Vienna -- e.g. almost all of the stately buildings lining the "Ring" -- stem from the francisco-josephinean era.   [Link opens a new window.]

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Imperial Castle (Inner Yard)


Gloriette at Schönbrunn
   (Schönbrunn Castle


St. Charles' Church


      Belvedere Castle




Opera House

Imperial Castle (Cupola)

City Hall

Giant Wheel

Modernizations in technical areas like cars and aircrafts were introduced during Franz Joseph's reign which also saw the upcoming of the "Modernism" at the turn of last century (Fin de siècle).

(See the section on Art Nouveau, partly also the section on Music re the "modern" composers Mahler, Schönberg, Alban Berg, Zemlinsky.  Sigmund Freud, too, spent the first 60 of the 83 years of his life under the Emperor Francis Joseph.)

Modernism in Vienna

View/download "Vienna Modernism 1890 - 1910", an excellent document on this cultural movement containing many illustrations
[Link - a large pfd-document, allow some time for loading - opens a new window.]

Order "Vienna Modernism 1890 - 1910" as a printed brochure (free of charge)
[Link opens a new window.]


A Counterpoint to the Imperial Era -
Contemporary Vienna:

Of course time did not stand still in Vienna since the by-gone days of the Austrian Emperors.  Out of many present-time developments, just these three examples:

The "UN City"
Vienna, along with New York and Geneva, houses a United Nations Office.  Vienna's UN City is located in a quarter North of the Danube river
[Link opens a new window.]   

The "Haas-Building" at St. Stephan's Square
just opposite of St. Stephan's Cathedral, Vienna's primary landmark
[Links open new windows.]  

The "Hundertwasser-Building"

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UN City