Vibrant Vienna celebrates its famous boulevard

Lined with some of Austria’s most imposing and authoritarian buildings, Vienna’s Ringstrasse is pausing its perambulations after 150 years to pat itself on the back and puff up for the pomp and ceremony it was intended to display from the time of the creation’s blossoming...

The Ringstrasse (Ring) is just over one kilometre long (round) and 57m wide. With the advent of such an important boulevard came the glories of ‘modern’ architecture of the 19th century. Buildings here were designed by the greatest architects of the day. Included in the esteemed list are: Gottfried Semper, Carl von Hasenauer and Heinrich von Ferstel. Otto Wagner built an Art Nouveau Austrian Post Savings Bank. Modern building materials materialised throughout the construction of these new-style monumental edifices – they shot up as quick as you can scoff a Viennese coffee with change and immediacy in the air.
Old and new aristocracy built side by side and in 1867 full civil rights were granted to the capital’s Jewish citizens – so the Ring became an equal opportunity housing project!

But it was the the upper classes who transformed Vienna into a European hub for the arts as cashed up Viennese burghers became the modern day patrons/ sponsors of artists and institutions and residents of the Ring. Industrial magnates, artists and intellectuals all converged on Vienna to become stitches in this new, bold fabric of Viennese society.
Today it entices tourists like bees to honey. The beautiful and vibrant city continues to enthrall all who visit her. Continually reinventing herself, polishing up the old with fresh new paint it holds on to the very traditions that are the solid foundation of
Viennese life. Opera, music and the arts they all thrive as if a hothouse.

The best way to feel the past and the present along the Ring is to stroll it. Enjoy the passing parade of history as you pass the Rathausplatz, the banks and self-important residential buildings, with elegant rooms that hosted the famous Viennese salons and the significant appearance of The Parliament. Many cities have boulevards but there’s a certain kitschy charm of being able to do a circuit of the city on the Ringstrasse that is quite an individual feat.

The circuit is not a museum, despite the abundance of fine and dandy architecture, it is a moveable feast. Never dull, never still – life moves on around and around Vienna’s Ringstrasse – a never-ending waltz in time with today’s sensibility and yesterday’s glories.

This story first appeared in Get Up & Go and has been edited.