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Hall Of Fame - Vienna City Hall
The ambitious program of architectural improvements to Vienna introduced by Emperor Franz Joseph I, including the Ringstraße,
the Rathauspark (City Hall Park), and the Opera. Friedrich von Schmidt, who had been one of the architects working on Cologne
Cathedral, designed and built the Vienna City Hall between 1872 and 1883. It is the most significant secular building in the neo-
Gothic style in the city.
As Vienna is Austria's federal capital as well as a federal province in its own right, it is the seat of the mayor and governor of Vienna - two posts held by the same person.
The Provincial Assembly is composed of 100 members and elected for a term of five years.
The huge chandelier in the historicist style is the most striking feature of the 14-metre-high Council Chamber where the members of the Assembly convene. It has a
diameter of five meters and 213 lights. It was cast in one piece, weighs 3,200 kg and can be entered by maintenance personnel to change the lamps. The coffered ceiling of high-grade larch and spruce wood is decorated with 22-carat gold-leaf rosettes. Directly below the ceiling, a series of frescoes
depicts events from the history of Austria and Vienna. The section situated on the right hand of the central visitors' gallery shows scenes from the 13th to 16th centuries; one can see Duke Rudolf IV laying the foundation-stone for the southern spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral and the institution of Vienna University, the world's oldest university where students are taught in the German language.
The left-hand side takes one into the 17th to 19th centuries. Empress Maria Theresa is surrounded by famous exponents of the politics, arts and sciences of her era. Most of the pointed-arch windows with stained lead glazing facing the gallery were reconstructed after the Second World War on the basis of the original plans. The back wall of the central visitors' gallery depicts the tasks of Vienna's municipal administration in symbolic form.
Another attractive feature is the Senate Chamber which serves as the meeting-room of the City Senate. This is one of the most impressive rooms of the City Hall. A special sight is the beautiful majolica fireplace - a present by the Guild of Stove and Fireplace Makers dating from 1885 - on the wall facing
the entrance to the hall. The walls are covered with green silk damask. The ceiling featuring inlay work and gilt elements is
intricately and richly decorated.
The Arkadenhof is one of the biggest inner courtyards in Europe having a surface of 2,804 square meters, and can be compared to the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice. A choir-type oriel along its western wall is a reminder of the original project to build a chapel in the City Hall. Lined by five-meter-wide, pointed-arch arcades, the
courtyard offers a fascinating setting for a wide variety of events. A folding roof designed by the architect Silja Tillner is a new addition to protect visitors against wind and rain.
It also houses the Municipal and State Libraries and Archives which hold many key documents of Vienna's history and a large collection of local memorabilia.
Article written by Anil Gupta.
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