Top Historic Sights in Vienna, Austria

Explore the historic highlights of Vienna

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Vienna, St. Stephen's Cathedral h ...
Founded: 1359 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace is the former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna. Part of the palace forms the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. Built in the 13th century and expanded in the centuries since, the palace has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the principal imperial ...
Founded: 1279 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Museumsquartier

The MuseumsQuartier Wien, one of the largest culture and art complexes in the world, is a playground for culture seekers. Spend the entire day diving into the vibrant sprawl of renowned museums, exhibition halls and art spaces. The Museumsquartier contains Baroque buildings as well as Modern architecture by the architects Laurids and Manfred Ortner. Additional highlights include Leopold Museum (one of the largest collect ...
Founded: 2001 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome. It is the largest art museum in the country. It was opened around 1891 at the same time as the Naturhistorisches Museum, by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. The two museums have similar exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Both buildings we ...
Founded: 1891 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Augustinian Church

Augustinian Church was originally built in 1327 as the parish church of the imperial court of the Habsburgs. In 1634, the Augustinerkirche became the parish church of the imperial church. As imperial church, many Habsburg weddings took place there, including the wedding of Archduchess (and future Empress) Maria Theresa in 1736 to Duke Francis of Lorraine, the wedding of Archduchess Marie Louise in 1810 to Emperor Napoleon ...
Founded: 1327 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Albertina

Albertina museum houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings. Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th-century art, some of which will ...
Founded: 1805 | Location: Vienna, Austria

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter"s Church (Peterskirche) is thought to occupy the oldest Christian sacred site in Vienna, as a church has stood here since the second half of the 4th century. According to legend, Charlemagne founded a larger church here in 792. The mediaeval church had three altars, with an apse in the south instead of the normal eastern orientation. This unusual feature has triggered many discussions among experts, and it ...
Founded: 1701-1733 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. The site of the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn is o ...
Founded: 1740 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Minoritenkirche

The Minoritenkirche is a church built in French Gothic style in Vienna old town. The site on which the church is built was given to followers of Francis of Assisi in 1224. The foundation stone was laid by King Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1276. Duke Albrecht II later supported the building process, especially the main portal. The Gothic Ludwig choir was built between 1316 and 1328, and used as a mausoleum in the 14th and 15th ...
Founded: 1276 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Capuchin Church and Imperial Crypt

The Capuchin Church in Vienna, Austria is a church and monastery run by the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. It is most famous for containing the Imperial Crypt, the final resting place for members of the House of Habsburg. About 1599 the Capuchin brothers resided at Vienna on their way to Prague, where they had been sent by Pope Clement VIII in the course of the Counter-Reformation. The church was donated by will of Anna ...
Founded: 1599-1632 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Burgtheater

The Burgtheater (Imperial Court Theatre) opened on 14 March 1741, the creation of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria who wanted a theatre next to her palace. Three Mozart operas premiered there. The theatre's first building adjoined the Hofburg at Michaelerplatz, opposite St. Michael's Church. The theatre was moved to a new building at the Ringstraße in 1888 designed by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von H ...
Founded: 1888 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Karlskirche

Widely considered the most outstanding baroque church in Vienna, as well as one of the city's greatest buildings, Karlskirche is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, one of the great counter-reformers of the 16th century. In 1713, one year after the last great plague epidemic, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, pledged to build a church for his namesake patron saint, Charles Borromeo, who was revered as a healer for plague s ...
Founded: 1716-1737 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Maltese Church

The Maltese Church is a Roman Catholic Gothic church of the Knights Hospitaller in Vienna. The first church on this site is mentioned in 1217, as a commandry to care and support crusaders. The current building was built in the mid-15th century. In the 17th century it was a favoured preaching location for Abraham a Sancta Clara. This building was rebuilt to fit contemporary taste in the Baroque era and in 1806, and the Ko ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vienna, Austria

Austrian Parliament Building

The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna is where the two houses of the Austrian Parliament conduct their sessions. The foundation stone was laid in 1874 and the building was completed in 1883. The architect responsible for its Greek Revival style was Theophil Hansen. He designed the building holistically, aiming to have each element harmonizing with all the others. He was therefore also responsible for the interior dec ...
Founded: 1874-1883 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Musikverein

The Wiener Musikverein is a concert hall in the Innere Stadt borough of Vienna. It is the home of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra. The 'Great Hall' (Großer Saal), due to its highly regarded acoustics, is considered one of the finest concert halls in the world, along with Berlin"s Konzerthaus, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Boston"s Symphony Hall. With the exception of Boston Symphony Hall, none ...
Founded: 1870 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Belvedere

Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), an accomplished general and art connoisseur, built the Belvedere palace as his summer residence. Today, the Belvedere, one of the most important baroque buildings in Austria, is located in Vienna’s third district. However at the time of its construction, the palace was located outside the city gates. Belvedere palace consists of two seperate buildings: the Upper and Lower Belvedere, w ...
Founded: 1712 | Location: Vienna, Austria

St. Rupert's Church

St. Rupert's Church is traditionally considered to be the oldest church in Vienna. The church is located in one of the oldest parts of the city, the section of the Roman Vindobona. According to legend, it was founded by Cunald and Gisalrich, companions of Rupert during his occupation of the seat of bishop of Salzburg. However, because Salzburg had influence over religious issues in Vienna between 796 and 829, it is more p ...
Founded: c. 800 AD | Location: Vienna, Austria

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in located in the historic Greek neighborhood of Vienna"s Innere Stadt. Greek Orthodox churches have existed near this site since 1787, as a result of the 1781 Patent of Toleration issued by Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. The architect of the 1787 building was Peter Mollner. The current building is a Byzantine Revival re-design of the Mollner building by Danish-Austrian neo-classic ...
Founded: 1858 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Schottenstift

The Schottenstift (Scottish Abbey) is a Roman Catholic monastery founded in Vienna in 1155 when Henry II of Austria brought Irish monks to Vienna. The monks did not come directly from Ireland, but came instead from Scots Monastery in Regensburg, Germany. Henry granted the new monastery extensive privileges. Construction of the first monastery started in 1160, and the structure was consecrated in 1200. The monastery was ou ...
Founded: 1160 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Votive Church

The Votive Church (Votivkirche) is a neo-Gothic church located on the Ringstraße in Vienna. Following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, the Emperor"s brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian inaugurated a campaign to create a church to thank God for saving the Emperor"s life. Funds for construction were solicited from throughout the Empire. The church was dedicated in 1879. The Vot ...
Founded: 1879 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Dominican Church

The first church on the site of current Dominican Church was built in 1237 by the newly arrived Dominicans on a parcel of land allotted in 1225-1226 by the duke Leopold VI. The church was enlarged between 1240–1270 and a new choir was added in 1273. A series of fires caused the construction of a new Gothic church between 1283 and 1302. The nave was extended between 1458 and 1474. This church consisted of a nave with fiv ...
Founded: 1631 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Vienna Central Cemetery

The Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof) is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, largest by number of interred in Europe and most famous cemetery in Vienna. Unlike many others, the Vienna Central Cemetery is not one that has evolved slowly with the passing of time. The decision to establish a new, big cemetery for Vienna came in 1863 when it became clear that – due to industrialisation – the city's ...
Founded: 1874 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Technisches Museum

The Technisches Museum Wien dates from the early 20th century. The decision to establish a technical museum was made in 1908, construction of the building started in 1909 and the museum was opened in 1918. The unique exhibits, from the past to the future, make the museum a showplace for exciting technological developments. Multimedia presentations illuminate the influence of technological achievements on our society, eco ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Piarist Church

The Piarist Church, also known as the Church of Maria Treu, is a Baroque parish church of the Order of the Piarists in Vienna. The church has eight chapels and is decorated with frescoes made by Franz Anton Maulbertsch in 1752–53. Commissioned by the Piarists, Haydn’s Missa in Tempore Belli (Mass in Time of War, sometimes known as Kettledrum Mass) was first performed here on 26 December 1796. The Piaristenkirche was ...
Founded: 1698-1719 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Neugebäude Palace

Neugebäude Palace is a large Mannerist castle complex in the Simmering dictrict of Vienna, Austria. It was built from 1569 onwards at the behest of the Habsburg emperor Maximilian II on the alleged site of Sultan Suleiman's tent city during the 1529 Siege of Vienna and apparently modeled after it. It fell into disuse already in the 17th century and today stands in ruins. Under monumental protection since the 1970s, ther ...
Founded: 1569 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Hermesvilla

Hermesvilla is a palace and a former hunting area for the Habsburg nobility. Emperor Franz Joseph decided to build the Villa Hermés in the summer of 1881. Ostensibly, the Emperor hoped it would encourage his wife, who traveled widely, to remain in Vienna. It was designed by architect Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer, and construction lasted 1882 until 1886. The Empress herself commissioned the sculptor Ernst Herter from Berli ...
Founded: 1882-1886 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Augarten Flak Towers

Flak towers (Flaktürme) were eight complexes of large, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed by Nazi Germany in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna from 1940 onwards. The towers were used by the Luftwaffe to defend against Allied air raids against these cities during World War II. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of local civilians. In Vienna military authorities ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Augarten Palace

Palais Augarten was constructed in the late 17th century by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach on the site of a hunting château and gardens. In 1780 this palace came into the possession of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. Until the beginning of the twentieth century it remained in the possession of the Habsburg family. During this period, and especially in the nineteenth century, many balls were held in the palace, an ...
Founded: 1692 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Hetzendorf Palace

Schloss Hetzendorf is a baroque palace in Meidling, Vienna that was used by the imperial Habsburg family. The building was originally a hunting lodge. It was refashioned by the architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. Empress Maria Theresa had it enlarged in 1743 by Nicolò Pacassi for her mother, Empress Elizabeth Christine, who lived here from 1743 until her death in 1750. A prominent feature of the palace is the e ...
Founded: 1743 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.