Austria is a German-speaking country in the center of Europe and is one of its most popular tourist destinations. The capital city, Vienna, is home to numerous palaces and historic buildings which have turned it into one of the most-visited cities in the world.
The landscape of Austria is dominated by the eastern section of the Alps Mountain Range, especially in the western and central parts of the country. These elements make this relatively small country the perfect place to enjoy cultural and adventurous holidays.
Without further ado, let’s check out some of the most famous buildings In Austria, great architectural feats in the country.
1. Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is one of the most renowned opera houses in the world. It was the first structure to be completed on the new ring road of Vienna and was completed between 1861 and 1869, even though most parts were rebuilt following serious damage at the end of World War II.
The opera house features a magnificent auditorium with a seating capacity of 1,709 and 567 additional standing places. It is home to the Vienna Philharmonic which is considered to be one of the most renowned orchestras in the world.
This particular opera house is also one of the busiest in the world as it’s the venue of about 350 yearly performances, organized by over 1,000 employees. This means that it will be hard to miss out on a performance in case you are in the city and book tickets in advance.
Official website: Wiener Staatsoper
2. Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace is arguably one of the most amazing palaces in Europe, and that surely means something. This enormous structure was the summer residence of the Habsburg Rulers and its history dates back to a mansion on this location in the 16th century.
Multiple additions were made to the palace over the centuries, eventually culminating in an astounding 1,441 rooms designed in the exuberant Rococo architectural style, and an immense garden that features an enthralling gloriette on top of a 60 meter (200 feet) high hill.
Today, the palace is Austria’s most popular tourist attraction with nearly 4 million yearly visitors. It’s a complex of multiple venues such as the Tiergarten Schönbrunn the Vienna Zoo), Palmenhaus, Wüstenhaus, and the Wagenburg. It’s also the venue of The Schönbrunn Palace Concerts.
Official website: Schoenbrunn.at
3. Melk Abbey
One of the most magnificent monasteries in the world can be found in Melk, a city in the Lower Austria state of the country. Melk Abbey stands majestically on a rock that overlooks the Danube River near the Wachau Valley.
The history of this monastery dates back to its foundation in the 11th century as a castle in this location was donated to the local monks. The current version of the monastery was built between 1702 and 1736 and is renowned for its magnificent Baroque interior design.
This magnificent landmark in the Austrian landscape was seriously damaged by fire in 1974 which resulted in a renovation project that lasted between 1978 and 1995. This way, we can still admire this amazing attraction in all its glory today.
Official website: Stift Melk
4. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is commonly known as the “Stephansdom” and is the main church and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. The original structure in this location was built between 1137 and 1160 and continuously expanded until the early 16th century.
This means that the most important religious building in the city of Vienna combines both elements of the Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. This in combination with its multi-colored tile roof makes this one of the most amazing churches that you’ll ever come across.
Both the exterior and the interior of the church have been completely renovated in the previous decades as well. This returned this amazing structure to the way it looked hundreds of years ago, making it a must-see landmark in Austria.
Official website: Stephansdom Wien
5. The Hofburg
While Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg Rulers, the Hofburg was both their official residence and winter residence. This enormous Baroque palace complex was originally built in the 13th century and continuously expanded the following centuries.
It’s located right in the heart of Austria’s capital and faces a square called the “Heldenplatz” which translates to “Heroes Square.”
The original version of this palace was a medieval castle and that’s why its name translates to “Castle of the Court.” Today, it serves a similar purpose because since 1946 it has been the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria, the head of state of the Austrian Republic.
Part of the palace also serves as a museum that documents the entire history of Austria. Apart from the living quarters of the Habsburg rulers, we can also find the imperial chapel (Hofkapelle or Burgkapelle), the imperial library (Hofbibliothek), the treasury (Schatzkammer), the Burgtheater, the Spanish Riding School (Hofreitschule), and the imperial mews in this enormous complex.
Official website: Sisi Museum
6. Hohensalzburg Fortress
Hohensalzburg Fortress is a medieval castle that majestically overlooks the city of Salzburg, the 4th-largest city in the country. The construction of this amazing building started in the year 1077 and it was gradually expanded over the centuries.
This includes a massive expansion phase between 1495 and 1519 by Prince-Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach. This was a project that included the so-called Reisszug, a predecessor of the funicular railway that provides access to the structure from the city below.
Today, Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the most famous buildings in Austria and a major tourist attraction in Salzburg. You can access the building with the Festungsbahn funicular railway, the modern version of the primitive train built here over 500 years ago.
Official website: Festung Hohensalzburg
7. Kunsthaus Graz
The Kunsthaus Graz is also referred to as the Grazer Kunsthaus or Graz Art Museum and as the name implies, is one of the most famous art museums in Austria. It’s one of the most amazing buildings in Graz, the capital city of the Austrian state of Styria.
This remarkable Blobitecture building in Austria was completed as part of a project that revolved around the European Capital of Culture. Graz was chosen for this event in 2003 and the renowned British architect Sir Peter Cook, along with his colleague Colin Fournier, was hired to complete the design.
The result is one of the most prominent examples of “blob architecture,” a term that was coined in the 1990s. Its façade features blue acrylic panels which provide a remarkable light show in the evening. The building houses a collection of contemporary art starting from the 1960s.
Official website: Kunsthaus Graz
Karlskirche can be described as the epitome of Baroque Buildings in Austria. It’s located on the southern end of the Karlsplatz, a famous square in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Both the square and the church were named in honor of Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), a major figure in the Counter-Reformation of the 16th century.
The building was commissioned by Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, to commemorate the end of a devastating plague that had ravaged the city of Vienna in the early 18th century. Borromeo was renowned for helping plague victims in Milan during the final decade of his life.
The astounding church features a distinctive dome and two massive columns resembling Trajan’s Column in Rome. The reliefs on the columns depict events in the life of Borromeo and the interior of the church is decorated with paintings in honor of the Catholic Saint.
Official website: Karlskirche
9. Salzburg Cathedral
Salzburg Cathedral is another opulent Baroque cathedral in Austria. It’s located right in the historic heart of the city and was dedicated to Saint Rupert (660-710) a local 8th-century bishop, and Saint Vergilius (700-784), an 8th-century Irish astrologer who emigrated to Salzburg.
Rupert of Salzburg was the man who founded the first church on this location in the early 8th century and Saint Vergilius completed the first cathedral building in 774, the year the “Salzburg Dom” was mentioned for the first time. This was probably on the remains of the ancient Roman town that was located here.
This original structure was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in the Romanesque style in 1181. The Romanesque building was destroyed by a fire in 1598 and rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1614 and 1628.
An important event in the history of Salzburg happened here on January 28, 1756, because that was the day that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1793) was baptized in this building, the day after he was born.
Official website: Salzburg Cathedral
10. Goldenes Dachl
Goldenes Dachl is one of the most famous buildings in Austria because of its golden roof. That’s also why the building is called as such because “Goldenes Dachl” translates to “Golden Roof.”
This remarkable structure is located in the Old Town of the Austrian city of Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, and was completed in the year 1500. It has been one of the most exciting attractions in the city ever since.
The roof consists of 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. This decorative technique applies a thin layer of gold to the copper panels that the roof is made of. It was commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) in honor of his wedding with Bianca Maria Sforza (1472-1510), his third wife.
Official website: Golden Roof