[ stop the slideshow ]

#1403 Debating Chamber of the Austrian Parliament - Vienna (Austria)

20050630-016 Debating Chamber of the Austrian Parliament - Vienna (Austria).jpg Thumbnails

The Austrian Parliament Building ("Parlamentsgebäude" or "colloquially das Parlament") in Vienna is where the two houses of the Austrian Parliament conduct their sessions. The building is located on the Ringstraße boulevard in the first district Innere Stadt, near Hofburg Palace and the Palace of Justice. It was built to house the two chambers of the Imperial Council (Reichsrat), the bicameral legislature of the Cisleithanian (Austrian) part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Up to today, the Parliament Building is the seat of the two houses—the National Council (Nationalrat) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat) of the Austrian legislature. The foundation stone was laid in 1874; the building was completed in 1883. The architect responsible for its Greek Revival style was Theophil Hansen. He designed the building holistically, each element harmonizing with the others and was therefore also responsible for the interior decoration, such as statues, paintings, furniture, chandeliers, and numerous other elements.
Hansen was honoured by Emperor Franz Joseph with the title of Freiherr (Baron) after its completion. Following heavy damage and destruction in World War II, most of the interior has been restored to its original splendour.

The chamber of the former House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus) is used today by the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) whenever it convenes for special occasions such as National Day and the inauguration ceremony of a newly elected Federal President of Austria. The chamber is built in a semicircle of 34 metre (112 ft) diameter and about 23 metre (74 ft) depth. It originally contained 364 seats. With the introduction of various electoral reforms, the number was increased to 425 seats in 1896 and with the introduction of male universal suffrage in 1907 to 516 seats. The wall behind the presidium is designed like an antique skene with marble colonnades that carry a gable. The group of figures in the gable are made of Laas marble and depict the allegorical times of the day. The columns and pilasters of the wall are made of marble from Untersberg, the stylobates of dark marble, the decorations of the doors of red Salzburg marble. The wall space between the pillars is made of grey scagliola, with niches in between decorated with statues made of Carrara marble. The statues show historical persons such as Numa Pompilius, Cincinnatus, Quintus Fabius Maximus, Cato the Elder, Gaius Gracchus, Cicero, Manlius Torquatus, Augustus, Seneca the Younger and Constantine the Great. The friezes above were painted by August Eisenmenger and depict the history of the emergence of civic life.