1902 Encyclopedia > Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria




VIENNA (Germ. Wien), the capital and largest city of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, is situated on the right bank of the Danube, in 48° 13' N. lat. and 16° 23' E. long., at a height of about 550 feet above the level of the sea. It lies at the base of the last outlying spurs of the eastern Alps (the Wiener Wald), at the beginning of a plain which stretches eastwards to the Carpathians. The main channel of the Danube passes to the north of Vienna; but an arm of the river, the Danube Canal, passes through the city, dividing it into two unequal parts. Into this arm, on the east side of Vienna, flows the dirty and gener-ally insignificant stream called the Wien, which gives its name to the city. Vienna is the principal residence of the emperor, the see of an archbishop, the seat of the im-perial and Cisleithan (Austrian) ministries, the meeting-place of the Austrian diet, and also the meeting-place, alternately with Buda-Pesth, of the delegations (compare AUSTRIA). Vienna is now officially divided into the fol-lowing ten municipal districts,—the inner town (Innere Stadt) or old city of Vienna, Leopoldstadt, Landstrasse, Wieden, Margarethen, Mariahilf, Neubau, Josefstadt, Alser-grund, and Favoriten. The inner town, which lies almost exactly in the centre of the others, is, unlike the older parts of most European towns, still the most aristocratic quarter, containing the palaces of the emperor and of many of the nobility, the Government offices, many of the embassies and legations, the opera house, and the principal hotels. Leopoldstadt, which is the only district on the left bank of the Danube Canal, is the chief commercial quarter, and is inhabited to a great extent by Jews. Mariahilf, Neubau, and Margarethen are the chief seats of manufacturing industry. Landstrasse may be described as the district of officialism; there too are the British and German embassies. Alsergrund, with the enormous general hospital, the military hospital, and the municipal asylum for the insane, is the medical quarter. The inner city, or Vienna proper, was formerly separated from the other dis-tricts by a circle of fortifications, consisting of a rampart, fosse, and glacis. These, however, were removed in 1858-1860, and the place of the glacis has been taken by a hand-some boulevard (Ring-Strasse), 2 miles in length and about 150 feet in average width. A series of external

works, consisting of a rampart and fosse, were constructed in 1704 to surround the whole city at that time, including its suburbs ; and these are still maintained as the boundary-line for the city imposts, and separate the above-named districts from the as yet unincorporated suburbs. This second girdle of fortifications is known as the Lines (Linien), and a second wide boulevard (Gurtel-Strasse) follows their course round the city.
Near th°. centre of the inner city, most of the streets in _which are narrow and irregular, is the cathedral of St Stephen, the most important mediaeval building in Vienna, dating in its present form mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries, but incorporating a few fragments of the original 12th-century edifice. Among its most striking features are the fine and lofty tower (450 feet), rebuilt in 1860-64 ; the extensive catacombs, in which the emperors were formerly interred ; the sarcophagus (1513) of Frederick III.; the tomb of Prince Eugene of Savoy; thirty-eight marble altars; and the fine groined ceiling. A little to the south-west of the cathedral is the Hofburg, or imperial palace, a huge complex of buildings of various epochs and in various styles, enclosing several courtyards. The oldest part of the present edifice dates from the 13th century, and extensive additions are now being made according to

Plan of the city of Vienna.

the plans of the architect Fischer von Erlach (1656-1723). In addition to private rooms and state apartments, the Hofburg contains a library of 400,000 volumes and 20,000 MSS.; the imperial treasury, a storehouse of objects of the greatest historical interest and intrinsic value; a cabinet of coins and antiquities; and other important collections. In the old town are the two largest of the Hofe, extensive blocks of buildings belonging to the great abbeys of Austria, which are common throughout Vienna. These are the Schottenhof (once belonging to the "Scoti," or Irish Benedictines) and the MSlkerhof, adjoining the open space called the Freiung, each forming a little town of itself. As in most Continental towns, the custom of living in flats is prevalent in Vienna, where few except the richer nobles occupy an entire house. Of late the so-called "Zins-paliiste " (" tenement palaces ") have been built on a large and magnificent scale, often profusely adorned without and within with painting and sculpture. Some of the finest of these, a characteristic feature of Vienna architecture, are also to be seen in the old town. Other notable buildings within the line of the old fortifications are the Gothic Augustine church, containing a fine monument by Canova, the Capuchin church, with the burial vault of the Haps-burgs; the church of Maria-Stiegen, an interesting Gothic building of the 14th century; the handsome Greek church, by Hansen; and the old rathhaus. At the corner of the Graben is the " Stock im Eisen," the stump of a tree, said to be the last survivor of a holy grove round which the original settlement of Vindomina sprang up (see p. 223 below). It is full of nails driven into it by travelling journeymen.
In the number of its large and handsome modern build-ings Vienna can hold its own with any European capital. Most of these are found in or adjoining the King-Strasse, which certainly ranks as one of the most imposing achieve-ments of recent street architecture. Opposite the Hof-

burg, the main body of which is separated from the Ring-Strasse by the Hofgarten and Volksgarten, rise the hand-some monument of the empress Maria Theresa and the imperial museums of art and natural history, two extensive Renaissance edifices with domes, matching each other in every particular and grouping finely with the new part of the palace. Hans Makart's painted dome in the natural history museum is the largest pictorial canvas in the world. Adjoining the museums to the west is the palace of justice (1881), and this is closely followed by the houses of parlia-ment (1883), in which the Grecian style has been success-fully adapted to modern requirements. Beyond the houses of parliament stands the new rathhaus, an immense and lavishly-decorated Gothic building, erected in 1873-83. It was designed by Friedrich Schmidt, who may be de-scribed as the chief exponent of the modern Gothic tend-ency, as Hansen and Semper, the creators respectively of the parliament house and the museums, are the leaders of the Classical and Renaissance styles which are so strongly represented in Viennese architecture. The central tower and the tapering steeple of the rathhaus are surmounted by a colossal bronze figure of a knight. Opposite the rath-haus, on the inner side of the King, is the new court theatre, another specimen of Semper's Renaissance work. To the north stands the new building of the university, a Renaissance structure by Ferstel, rivalling the rathhaus in extent. Near the university, and separated from the Ring by a garden, stands the votive church in Alsergrund, erected to commemorate the emperor's escape from assas-sination in 1853, one of the most elaborate and successful of modern Gothic churches, in which the efforts of the architect (Ferstel) are supported by a profusion of sculp-ture and stained glass windows. The other important buildings of the Ring-Strasse include the magnificent opera house, the sumptuous interior of which vies with that of Paris, the Academy of Art, the industrial museum, and the exchange. On the north side the Ring-Strasse gives place to the spacious Franz Joseph's quay, flanking the Danube Canal. The municipal districts outside the Ring also contain numerous handsome modern buildings. Among the churches may be instanced those of Wieden (St Carlo Borromeo) and Lerchenfeld, the former an 18th-century imitation of St Peter's at Rome, the latter a plain but graceful building in an early mediaeval Italian style. The secular buildings include several large barracks and hospitals, various institutions connected with the univer-sity, the arsenal (with a collection of weapons), the Belve-dere (see below), and the polytechnic institute, market-halls, &c. In the outlying districts are numerous villas of great taste and elegance.
Vienna is the intellectual as well as the material capital of Austria,—emphatically so in regard to the German part of the empire. Its university, established in 1365, is now attended by nearly 6000 students, and the medical faculty enjoys a world-wide reputation. Besides an adequate supply of elementary and secondary schools, the other educational institutions include a large polytechnic, an agricultural academy, a military school, Roman Catholic and Protestant theological seminaries, a conservatorium of music, a training school for aspirants to a diplomatic career, a commercial college, and numerous technical and special schools. Its scientific institutions are headed by the Academy of Science. The Academy of Art was founded in 1707. Few European capitals possess more valuable art collections than Vienna. The picture gallery in the Belvedere Palace, formerly the residence of Prince Eugene, is unsurpassed for its specimens of Rubens, Diirer, and the Venetian masters. The Lower Belvedere, at the other end of the garden, contains the famous Ambras collection of armour, curiosities, and antiquities. The private picture galleries of Prince Liechtenstein, Count Harrach, and Count Czernin are of great extent and importance; and the collection of drawings and engravings known as the "Albertina," in the palace of the archduke Albert, is familiar to all connoisseurs. The collections of the various museums, &c, which are not unworthy of the handsome buildings in which they are exhibited, and the extensive military collections of the arsenal must also be mentioned.
In 1880 the population of Vienna proper, i.e., the ten municipal districts, amounted to 705,402, a number which gave it the fourth place among the cities of Europe. In-cluding the suburbs, the total population rose to 1,082,812. The above figures are exclusive of the garrison of 20,700 men. The overwhelming majority of the inhabitants are Roman Catholics; the Jews number about 75,000, and the Protestants 26,500.
Owing to the peculiarities of its situation, the population of Vienna is of a very cosmopolitan and heterogeneous character. The German element is, of course, largely in the ascendant; but there are also large numbers of Czechs, Hungarians, and Slavs. As a general rule the Viennese are gay, pleasure-loving, and genial, and they possess a bonhomie which differentiates them markedly from the inhabitants of the other great German capital. The Viennese women are often distinguished by beauty and elegance ; and dress-ing as a fine art is cultivated here with almost as great success as in Paris. As a rule the Viennese are passionately fond of dancing ; and the city of Strauss, Lanner, and Gungl provides the civilized terpsichorean world with waltzes and polkas. Opera, especially in its lighter form, flourishes, and the actors of Vienna maintain with success a traditional reputation of no mean order. The above description must not be understood to convey a negation of more solid qualities, especially industry, frugality, and sobriety. Its chief place in the history of art Vienna owes to its musicians, among whom are counted Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. The Viennese school of painting is of modern origin ; but some of its members, for instance, Hans Makart, have acquired a European reputation.
The Prater, a vast expanse (2000 acres) of wood and park on the east side of the city, between the Danube and the Danube Canal, is greatly frequented by all classes ; and here all phases of Viennese life may be studied, from the fashionable corso in the Haupt-AUee in May down to the bois-terous and Derby-day-like jollity of a Sunday in the VVur-stelPrateror people's Prater. The great exhibition of 1873 was held in this park, and several of its buildings, in-cluding the large rotunda, have been left standing. Small-er parks are the Hof-garten, the Volks-garten, and the Town Park, all adjoining the Ring-Strasse. The environs of the city of Vienna contain many points of beauty and interest. Among the most popular resorts are the parks and gardens belonging to the imperial chateaux of Schdnbrunn and Laxenburg.
The position of the city on the chief European waterway running from west to east early marked out Vienna as one of the great com-mercial emporia of eastern Europe. The valley of the March, which river here joins the Danube, forms the natural line of communica-tion with the Oder and the Vistula. But the Austrian Government and the corporation of Vienna, by failing to keep the Danube in a proper state for navigation, have let slip the opportunity of making the city the great Danubian metropolis which its geographical position entitles it to be. An extensive trade is nevertheless carried on from Vienna in grain, partly as a direct importation from Hun-gary and partly in transit between Russia and southern Germany. Other important articles are wine, cattle, colonial wares, and manu-factured goods of the most varied description. Though not conspicu-ous among cities of its own rank as an industrial centre, Vienna nevertheless carries on a considerable number of manufactures ; and some of its products, such as its bent-wood furniture and meer-schaum pipes, are exported to all parts of Europe. In the number

Environs of Vienna.

ami variety of its leather and other fancy goods it rivals Paris; and among manufactures of a more solid character may be instanced machinery, ironwares, carriages, cotton and silk goods, &c. The beer of Vienna is also famous. The municipal government of Vienna is entrusted to a gemeinderath of 120 elected members, with an executive and police magistracy. The annual income of this body amounts to about one and a half millions sterling. In the national parliament the city is represented by 10 members. The climate of Vienna is changeable, and rapid falls of tempera-ture are not uncommon. The range between January and June is about 40° Fahr. Violent storms often occur in spring and autumn ; and the heat of summer is accompanied by a plague of dust. Good water is brought by an aqueduct from the Schneeberg, 50 miles to the south-west. The annual death-rate is about twenty-six per thousand.
History.—For several centuries Vienna filled an important role as the most advanced bulwark of Western civilization and Christian-ity against the Turks, for during the whole of the Middle Ages Hungary practically retained its Asiatic character. The story of Vienna begins in the earliest years of the Christian era, with the seizure of the Celtic settlement of Vindomina by the Romans, who changed its name to Vindobona, and established a fortified camp here to command the Danube and protect the northern frontier of the empire. The fortress grew in importance, and was afterwards made a munieipium ; and here Marcus Aurelius died in ISO. On the decline of the Roman empire Vindobona became the prey of successive barbarian invaders. Attila and his Huns were among the temporary occupants of the place (5th century), and in the following century it came into the possession of the Avars, after which its name disappears from history until towards the close of the 8th century, when Charlemagne expelled the Avars and made the district between the Enns and the Wiener Wald the boundary of his empire. In the time of Otho II. (976) this " East Mark " (Ostmark, Oesterreich, Austria) was granted in fief to the Baben-bergers, and in the reign of Frederick Barbarossa (1156) it was ad-vanced to the rank of a duchy. There is no certain record that the site of Vindobona was occupied at the time of the formation of the Ostmark, though many considerations make it probable. It is not likely that the Avars, living in their "ring" encampments, de-stroyed the Roman munieipium ; and Bees, the Hungarian name for Vienna to this day, is susceptible of a Slavonic interpretation only, and would seem to indicate that the site had been occupied in Slavonic times. The frequent mention of "Wieno" in the oldest extant version of the Nibelungenlied points in the same direction. Passing over a doubtful mention of "Vwienni" in the annals of 1030, we find the " eivitas " of Vienna mentioned in a document of 1130, and in 1156 it became the capital and residence of Duke Hein-rich Jasomirgott. In 1237 Vienna received a charter of freedom from Frederick II., confirmed in 1247. In the time of the crusades Vienna increased so rapidly, in consequence of the traffic that flowed through it, that in the days of Ottocar II. of Bohemia (1251-76), the successor of the Babenbergers, it had attained the dimensions of the present inner town. A new era of power and splendour begins in 1276, when it became the capital of the Haps-burg dynasty, after the defeat of Ottocar by Rudolph of Hapsburg. From this time on it has shared the fortunes of the house of Austria. In 1477 Vienna was besieged unsuccessfully by the Hungarians, and in 1485 it was taken by Matthew Corvinus. Of more import-ance were the two sieges by the Turks (1529 and 1683), when the city was saved on the first occasion by the gallant defence of Nicholas von Salm, and on the second by Rüdiger von Starhem-berg, who held out until the arrival of the Poles and Germans under John Sobieski of Foland. The suburbs, however, were destroyed on both occasions. In 1805, and again in 1809, Vienna was for a short time occupied by the French. In 1814-15 it was the meeting-place of the congress which settled the political affairs of Europe after the overthrow of Napoleon. In 1848 the city was for a time in the hands of the revolutionary party ; but it was bombarded by the imperial forces and compelled to surrender on 30th October of the same year. Vienna was not occupied by the Prussians in the war of 1866, but the invaders marched to within sight of its towers. Since then the most important event in its history has been the exhibition of 1873.
See Weiss, Gesch. der Stadt Wien (2 vols., 2d ed., 1SS2-SS), containing an ample
bibliography; Oesterreich in Wort und Bild, &c, Erste Abtli. (1886); Weiss,
Topographie der Stadt Wien (1876); Victor Tissot, Vienne et la Vie Viennoise
(Paris, 1878). (J. P. M.)


Footnotes

Some authorities connect the name of Vienna with Vindobona (see p. 222 below).






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