One of the main attractions in Vienna is the City Hall (Rathaus) and the reason will become obvious once you glance on the beautiful edifice which is the epitome of the Gothic architectural style. Designed by Friedrich Schmidt, the building was constructed in the latter part of the 19th century, between 1872 and 1883.
What makes the City Hall distinguishable among the other edifices situated on Ring Boulevard is the architecture used in its design. While the other constructions combine various styles, each representative for particular historical periods (this is in fact what makes the boulevard so unique), the City Hall is true to one style, the Gothic one, which was specific to the historical timeframe in which the construction work took place.
The City Hall is reminiscent of the Gothic cathedrals due to the design of its towers. The gothic era coincided with the period in which cities saw a rapid growth – which also led to the development of a new social class, the ‘urban bourgeois.’ The name given to the City Hall, Rathaus, comes from one of the great symbols of Vienna, the medieval knight Rathausmann.
It is the statue of Rathausmann (that weights 650 kg and reaches 3.4 m in height) which reigns over Vienna from the top of the tower on which it is situated. The armor which dresses the knight had been inspired from the armor worn by Emperor Maximilian I. Gravity had its say, so the statue had to be counterbalanced with the help of an 800 kg sphere that helped the statue to remain erect on the top of the tower, even if the weather conditions might have been dire.
In 1985, the statue needed to be restored and the workshop that undertook this project had come with a brilliant idea: the craftsmen that worked on the restoration of Rathausmann decided to create a duplicate of the sculpture. At present, this replica can be found in the Rathauspark, the park located in front of the City Hall.
At present, the Rathaus edifice is the main office for Vienna’s administrative department, where more than 2000 people work. Tourists are bound to be mesmerized by the impressive rooms where oftentimes are hosted different types of events such as balls, concerts or press conferences.
What strike tourists upon entering the Council Chamber is undoubtedly its impressive chandelier which hangs from the ceiling of the 14 meters tall room. This chandelier is noteworthy not solely due to its dimensions (it measures 5 m in diameter), but also the multitude of lights that form it (213 in number). This item was not made out of parts, but it is a sole object in itself, reaching the stunning weight of 3,200 kg. Just to get an idea of its magnitude, you should know that people from maintenance can actually enter inside the chandelier when it is necessary to change the light bulbs – or more accurately, the lamps.
Besides this item, tourists will also be enchanted by the beautiful decorations. The ceiling is architecturally designed as a sunken panel in the shape of a square and it is adorned with leaf designs made out of 22-carat gold. Right underneath the ceiling, the room is decorated with frescoes which illustrate various scenes from the Austrian history.
The Festival Hall, as the name suggests, was mainly used for balls, concerts, or other similar events. This room, as the Council Chamber, also impresses through its dimensions: 71 m in length, 20 m in width and almost 19 m in height. The room comprises several arcades which create the illusion of space.
Inside the Festival Hall one can notice four portraits done in relief, tribute to four of the greatest composers: Mozart, Haydn, Gluck and Schubert. The wooden floor found inside this room is considered a monument and it is protected by law. The reason for this is that the flooring had been preserved throughout the centuries, meaning that the room has its original parquet made out of a special type of oak tree.
Another room within the City Hall of Vienna is the Senate Chamber. One noteworthy element inside this room is the fireplace crafted out of tin-glazed pottery located on the wall opposite to the entry door, which means that it is the first thing you will set your eyes on while entering the Senate Chamber. The decorative design of the room is truly impressive as it consists of walls exquisitely dressed in green silk damask and a ceiling decorated with tiles and golden ornaments. Right near the entrance door, tourists can admire the statuettes of Johann Strauss and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller.
Other focal points of Vienna’s City Hall are the two grand staircases. These have iron balustrades on which a multitude of colors are reflected as a result of the sunlight passing through the colorful decorated windows.