01 Vienna, Austria – PART 2: Architecture in Vienna

If there is one thing that I regret from not studying in undergraduate, it is architecture. Luckily, I did get some introduction to the art of architecture through the two Art History classes I took, but now as I walk these streets full of history, I wish I knew more of it.

The roof top of Vienna Stephenplatz

In Vienna, I am dazzled every time I walk the cobblestone paths. Part of it is because I really enjoy the old architecture. (YES, I do agree that if you live in them they are quite different from what you see. Because when they are old, they may not have the basic facilities you would expect in a modern apartment – such as air-condition, hot water and ext.) But, I sure do enjoy admiring every single one of them as I walk the streets in Vienna. The fun part is that I discover new buildings or new areas ‘by accident’ by just walking different parts of the city all the time. Since I live here, I have more time to explore and to enjoy them, unlike the other cities I am visiting over the weekends. I spend my Mondays to Thursdays to appreciate Vienna as much as possible so that I do not regret not spending the weekends here.

In fact, the more I observe them, the more I notice that there is a pattern to these buildings. Here listed below are some patterns and some buildings that I found interesting. Perhaps those who study architecture (and even those who do not like myself) will find it interesting too. If one happens to read this, I would love to hear his or her thoughts!

Vienna Architecture


1. Keep the old buildings, and keep new buildings in the old style (at least in the 1st district in the city center). Practically, most buildings within the 1st district are designed to reflect the rich Viennese renaissance and baroque architecture style. While the building in itself is impressive, it is fascinating to realize how much of this were actually rebuilt after World War II.

1st District in front of Stephenplatz

I was shocked to learn how much of the city went under restoration/ reconstruction and yet how much of it has been maintained in its old feature well. For instance, one of my favorite places is the Vienna Opera House, as you see below. It was originally built in the Neo-Renaissance style and opened on May 1869, but was largely destroyed when it was hit by bombs in 1945. Interestingly, the original building at that time did not impress the Viennese. It went under restoration and reopened on November 1955. Now it is one of the most beautifully recognized buildings in the city and in which many visit to see Opera and Musical performances. The inner part of the building is beautiful too.

Vienna State Opera House – June 2012
Inside the Vienna State Opera House

But even other buildings are old style like this..which makes me feel like I am walking back into the history…

Buildings in Vienna – 1st District
Even the Bank of Austria seems to have a hint of uniqueness

2. Most buildings are yellow with green windows or pastel colors. As you will notice from the pictures below, most of the buildings I noticed in Vienna are painted in a pastel color tone, which I adore. One explanation I heard from a local is that these pastel and yellow colors were the colors used during the imperial period. Interestingly, I notice this color pattern elsewhere in Austria. The moment you take the train pass Austria, it changes. Some would say the Czechs, Slovakia, and Slovenia has some similar color tone, I would say Vienna and Austria’s color are more colorful and elegant.

Pretty Vienna – 1st District
Pastel colored buildings in Vienna
Even the MQ building is yellow and has a red roof top – a style I typically notice in Vienna and in Austria.

3. Huge buildings with narrow street ways but that are not taller than the churches. This may be a typical European pattern, but they are chunkier and larger than what you would see in Switzerland or Italy. I heard that it’s by law that you can’t built buildings higher than a certain amount of height. That is why when you go up Cathedral in Stephenplatz you can tell that the Cathedral is one of the tallest buildings in the city center. Even when you go further out there are not that many buildings that are tall until you leave the city center. There are some buildings outside the first district that are tall, but they are still the minority.

From the top of the Stephansdom you can tell that most buildings in the 1st district are a similar height.
Even the buildings near the Donua River are a similar height.

4. Each building is unique. The reason why it has been fun for me to document these buildings and study them is because most are different from one another. Hence, every time I walk somewhere I’m always bound to find something new! Here are some in which you can tell how different they are!

1 – Found this building as I was walking home. Turns out its one of the oldest Medical school that still is in practice. That is why you see the ancient vines all over the building.
2 – When you walk towards the Burggarten, you will find yourself standing here and gasp. This is the back part of the Hofburg. Simply beautiful.
3 – I was walking and..wow.
4 – I stopped because I noticed a crowd..and that is how I found out that the Anker Clock (created by the artist Franz Matsch in 1911) was located here.
5 – MQ(Museum Quarter) Area is one of the most popular meeting points in the city.
6 – This municipal apartment block created in 1985 by Fredensreich Hundertwasser is called the Hundertwasser Haus. Located inside the city people currently still live in this apartment. This artist has actually built few more buildings like this that are all unique. This is one of the most famous ones. The others are also below. Small but unique.
7 – Hundertwasser’s work 2 – now used as a waste management plant.
8- Meet Vienna’s finest Baroque Church: Karlskirche

5. The GREENness around the city makes the architect more elegant. One thing that you will notice for sure is that there is so much greenness in this city. While the greenness itself is beautiful, its well-kept park and trees are essentially what makes Vienna and its buildings more handsome and beautiful. Imagine how the city would have looked like without this greenness…!

Walking in the city center of Vienna

There is so much more to note about Vienna’s architecture, but I hope my short review and introduction has enlightened you.

Now..let’s go to part 3: where to walk if you were to walk in Vienna!

Vienna – In front of Stephensdom

5 thoughts on “01 Vienna, Austria – PART 2: Architecture in Vienna

    1. Thank you Rebecca! I’m glad you like it! And feel free to continue reading! If you have other travel suggestions too, feel free to share! Cheers, Monica

  1. Tha k you for sharing this with us. We too love the Vienna ar hitecture and allyhe old buildings. Everywhere you turn youe eyes you see a ‘ beutiful painting’ infront of you, we have visited Vienna 7 times and we can never get eniugh of it. My only disappointment is that as many people I have asked ( including people at the Architecture museum) nobody could explain to me how those beutiful external facedes of Vienna old buildings were actually constructed! If anybody knows I would love to hear (did the builders use molds that filled them in with cement?)

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