Vienna – Ringstrasse

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Ringstraße (Ring Road) is a circular road surrounding theInnere Stadt district of ViennaAustria and is one of its main sights. The street was built to replace the city walls, which had been built during the 13th century and funded by the ransom payment derived from the release ofRichard I of England, and reinforced as a consequence of theFirst Turkish Siege in 1529. The walls were surrounded by aglacis about 500m wide, where buildings and vegetation were prohibited. But by the late 18th century these fortifications had become obsolete.

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In 1857, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria issued the decree “It is My will” (Es ist Mein Wille at Wikisource) ordering the demolition of the city walls and moats. In his decree, he laid out the exact size of the boulevard, as well as the geographical positions and functions of the new buildings. The Ringstraße and the planned buildings were intended to be a showcase for the grandeur and glory of theHabsburg Empire. On the practical level, Emperor Napoléon III of France‘s boulevard construction in Paris had already demonstrated how enlarging the size of streets effectively made the erection of revolutionary barricades impossible.

Sigmund Freud was known to take a daily recreational walk around the Ring.

Many of the buildings that line the Ringstraße date back to the time before 1870. The following are some of the more notable buildings:

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  • Votivkirche, in neo-gothic style (a reference to the gothic Cathedrals of France). The only sacred building is the Votivkirche, which was built after Emperor Franz Joseph had been saved from an assassination attempt in 1853.

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  • Urania observatory (used to be a planetarium and now is educational centre and cinema)

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The Ringstraße was also generously planned with green areas and trees, the most notable parks being the Stadtpark with theKursalonBurggartenVolksgarten, and Rathauspark, as well as a number of squares such as the Schwarzenbergplatz,Schillerplatz, Maria-Theresien-Platz and Heldenplatz. Dotted along the Ringstraße are various monuments. They include statues to GoetheSchillerEmpress Maria TheresiaPrince Eugene of SavoyArchduke Charles of Austria, the founders of the First Austrian RepublicAthenaAndreas von Liebenberg,Count RadetzkyGeorg Coch, and Johann Strauss amongst many.

Other buildings that were destroyed or heavily damaged duringWorld War II was the Opera, the opposite building Heinrichshof which was replaced in the 1950s with the Kärtnerhof. The Urania observatory, the Kriegsministerium and the Parliament building were heavily damaged, and the Burgtheater burned down. The famous Hotel Metropole, which was located at the Franz-Joseph-Kai, was completely destroyed and replaced with a monument to the victims of Nazism.

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