Vienna is the capital of Austria and also one of the 9 states that make up the country. The center of the city is home to many historically important buildings that it was entirely declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
The second-largest German-speaking city after Berlin is also referred to as “The City of Music,” a reference to the multiple classical musical artists who lived and worked here such as Beethoven and Mozart.
If you’re interested in a healthy dose of architectural marvels, then check out this list of the most famous buildings in Vienna and learn some facts about them.
1. Vienna Staatsoper
The Vienna Staatsoper is the common name of the Vienna State Opera, the main opera house in the city.
It’s home to some of the most prestigious organizations including the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera and it’s considered to be one of the business opera houses in the world with over 350 yearly performances in 50 to 60 different operas.
This building was the first structure to be completed on the new Vienna Ring Road in the 1860s.
Even though this Neo-Renaissance structure is praised today, the main architect of the building, Eduard van der Nüll (112-1868), committed suicide following the ongoing criticism he received about the design.
Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and attending a performance is an amazing experience.
Official website: Wiener Staatsoper
2. Visit the amazing Schönbrunn Palace
Vienna is a city full of historic buildings and some of the most astounding palace complexes in the world.
One of these amazing structures is the Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburg rulers.
This enormous palace features 1,441 rooms, elaborately designed in the frivolous Rococo architectural style, and serves as a popular and enormous museum.
The history of the palace goes back to the 16th century and its name translates to “Beautiful Spring.”
This is a reference to the artesian well that was formerly used by members of the court for drinking water.
The gardens of the palace are equally impressive and the entire compound is located just to the southeast of the historical center of the city making it very easily accessible.
Official website: Schoenbrunn.at
3. Meet animals at Tiergarten Schönbrunn
One of the most popular attractions located entirely within the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace is the Vienna Zoo, officially known as “Tiergarten Schönbrunn” or “Schönbrunn Animal Garden.”
The roots of this zoo date back to the 18th century as the original zoo was founded as the Imperial Menagerie in the year 1752.
This menagerie was designed around a central pavilion built in the Baroque architectural style and served as the breakfast house for the Imperial family.
Today, you can enjoy a relaxing drink or lunch in and around the building where the Imperial family once ate their breakfast.
This amazing zoo also holds the record as being the oldest continuously operating zoo in the world, another reason why it should be on your to-do list during your stay in Vienna.
Official website: Zoo Vienna
4. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The main church in Vienna and the official seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna is also one of the architectural highlights in the city.
The first version of St. Stephen’s Cathedral was built between 1137 and 1160, and all the elements of the church as they appear today were completed in 1511.
The absolute highlight of this fascinating church, apart from its remarkable Romanesque and Gothic architectural design, is the multi-colored tile roof.
This fascinating roof consists of 230,000 glazed tiles which depict the double-headed eagle, the symbol of the Habsburg Dynasty, on one side, and the coats of arms of Vienna and Austria on the other.
The interior of the church is equally impressive which makes entering this remarkable structure a must as well.
Official website: St. Stephen’s Cathedral Wien
5. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
If you enjoy visiting a museum that has a large collection of fine art on display, then the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is a must-visit attraction.
The museum is commonly referred to as the “Museum of Fine Arts” and is located in a palatial building on the Ring Road of Vienna. It is both the largest art museum in the country and one of the most important art museums in the world.
On the other side of the Maria-Theresien-Platz, the immense square on which the museum is located, you can find the Natural History Museum, a very similar-looking Renaissance Revival building that was opened at the same time in 1891.
The interior of the museum is equally impressive as the exterior and is lavishly decorated with marble and gold leaf. Both the fine art and interior ornamentations of the building will leave you standing in awe, that’s for sure.
Official website: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
The Hofburg is yet another immense palace in the center of the city and was the former official residence and winter palace of the Habsburg rulers.
Its purpose has changed and now serves as both the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria, as well as a museum related to the country’s history.
The main attraction of this enormous structure is the “Sisi Museum” which allows you to visit the former Imperial Apartments and the immense Silver collection of the Habsburg Rulers.
The personal items of Empress Elizabeth are also on display here at this fascinating museum.
An audio guide is available as well so you can learn everything about life at the court during Imperial times.
Official website: The Hofburg and Sisi Museum
7. Palmenhaus Schönbrunn
The Palmenhaus Schönrbrunn is one of the most amazing greenhouses in the world, and one of the most influential ones as well.
It’s one of the four monumental greenhouses that is located within the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace and not just the largest of these four, but also one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The greenhouse has a length of 111 meters (364 feet), the equivalent of a large football pitch. The original structure was built in the 18th century but the current structure opened its doors in 1882.
An astounding 600 tonnes of wrought iron was used to construct this magnificent building in Vienna which features 45,000 glass tiles.
Official website: Palmenhaus
Karlskirche is officially known as the “Rektoratskirche St. Karl Borromäus” and is considered to be one of the most amazing Baroque Buildings in Vienna.
The church is located on the southern edge of Karlsplatz, a popular square in Vienna. It was dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), the Archbishop of Milan in the 16th century.
The design of the building is dominated by its magnificent dome and the two columns that flank the Neoclassical portico. These are decorated with reliefs related to the life of Borromeo.
In case you wonder, the interior of the church was also designed in the Baroque style which means it looks just as amazing as the exterior.
9. Vienna City Hall
The Vienna City Hall is locally known as the “Wiener Rathaus” and is located on a square that was named after it called the “Rathausplatz,” right in the heart of the city.
The building was designed in the Gothic Revival architectural style and was completed between 1872 and 1883.
The building is dominated by its central tower which reaches a height of 98 meters (322 feet). This briefly made it the tallest city hall in the world until it was surpassed by Milwaukee City Hall in 1895.
Today, apart from being one of the most amazing buildings in Vienna, it houses the office of the Mayor of Vienna, the offices of the city council, as well as those of the Vienna Landtag diet.
Official website: Vienna City Hall
10. Danube Tower
The Danube Tower is known as the “Donauturm” and is an incredible tower in the Donaustadt district of Vienna. This is the largest district in Vienna and is situated in the eastern part of the city.
It was built during the early 1960s as the centerpiece of the Viennese International Horticultural Show in 1964. It has been a prominent landmark in the skyline of Vienna ever since.
The tower stands 252 meters (827 feet) tall which makes it the tallest building in Austria. It’s a popular tourist attraction with an observation deck that provides amazing views of the city.
Do you want to get amazing views of all of the most famous buildings in Vienna? Then visiting this fascinating structure should be on top of your list of things to do in Austria’s capital.
Official website: Donauturm
11. Secession Building
The Secession Building is located just south of the historical heart of the city, right in between Karlskirche and the Kunsthisrisches Museum.
It was constructed in the late 19th century by a group of rebellious artists who formed a group called the “Vienna Secession.”
This movement was part of the Art Nouveau movement and the building served as an exhibition hall for the group and their architectural manifesto.
It features the iconic artwork by Gustav Klimt called the “Beethoven Frieze” which is kept inside a climate-controlled room in the basement.
Today, it still serves as an exhibition hall and is considered to be one of the most remarkable examples of Art Nouveau architecture.
Official website: Secession