Vienna, Austria‘s finest city on the Danube, is famed for its artistic, musical, intellectual, and architecturally rich past and culture, which has an irresistible charm. This historically significant city has always been in tune with both the old and the new. The splendor of Vienna’s architecture – Baroque and Gothic designs, Art Nouveau residences, Modernist masterpieces, and contemporary buildings contributes to the city’s beauty and complexity. To honor and celebrate art and architecture, Vienna is the perfect place for it. When we think of Vienna, we think of masters like Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. The impact of Vienna’s modernism on the rest of the globe, whether it be in terms of music, art, or architecture– was as significant as that of any other movement in history.

An architectural review of location: Vienna - Sheet1
The city of Vienna_©Best things to do in Vienna 2023 – klook travel (no date). _© (Accessed: February 15, 2023).

The architecture of Vienna: A Brief History

An architectural review of location: Vienna - Sheet2
St. Stephan’s Cathedral_©Jordan, R. (2023) The 12 best things to do in Vienna, CN Traveller. Condé Nast Traveller. _©  (Accessed: February 15, 2023).

In terms of architecture, Vienna has grown significantly. Its rich past helped to elevate art and architecture. The St. Stephan’s Cathedral is Vienna’s most iconic structure. This elemental church features a lovely blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles. The colorful zigzag tiled roof is a major distinctive exterior feature. This cathedral beautifully exemplifies the passage of time, age, and history.

The golden age of Austrian baroque architecture began in the mid-17th century. The Liechtenstein Palace, a private summer house of the Liechtenstein family that is now a museum, introduced a stunning and opulent style of architecture. It combines Italian villa-style exterior elements with ornate Baroque interiors. The Belvedere is another lovely palace from this era. The Belvedere Palace– a series of interconnecting cubes with sloping mansard-style roofs, and the Belvedere Gardens are favorite stops for Danube River cruise passengers.

An architectural review of location: Vienna - Sheet3
Interiors of Schönbrunn Palace_©Betriebsges.m.b.H., S.S.K.- und (no date) Great Gallery, Imperiales Erbe authentisch erleben. _© (Accessed: February 15, 2023).

Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, is credited for introducing Baroque architecture to Vienna’s ruling elite. At the height of the Black Plague outbreak, he swore to construct a church dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo if the plague left his city. It happened, and the splendid Karlskirche Church was created. During the reign of Charles’ daughter, Empress Maria Theresa, and her son, Joseph II, Baroque architecture flourished. The rococo style emerged as a more elaborate, fussier evolution of the baroque. Its characteristics are gilded stucco, vividly colored paintings, and embellished interiors. Within Schönbrunn Palace, Maria Theresa employed motifs so widely that this style is frequently referred to as the “late-baroque Theresian style”. The Schönbrunn Palace was meant to transform a rustic hunting house into a summer royal retreat.

The former city walls and military enforcement that secured the city center were removed during the mid-19th century. Emperor Franz Joseph I then embarked on a vast urban renewal project, establishing the Ringstrasse, which has been dubbed the world’s most beautiful avenue. Over three miles of Ring Boulevard are lined with gigantic, historically inspired neo-Gothic and neo-Baroque structures.

How Otto Wagner shaped Vienna’s architecture

Thanks to outstanding minds like Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, 20th-century modern Vienna had tremendous expansion in terms of architecture. Otto Koloman Wagner has been dubbed “the Father of Modern Architecture”. He undoubtedly contributed to Vienna’s transition from Art Nouveau to 20th-century architectural practicality. He merged classical elements with Art Nouveau influences. Ar. Adolf Loos later created the stark and minimalist style. When Loos built “Looshaus,” a modern structure across from the Imperial Palace in Vienna, it drew attention. It was a watershed moment in the history of architecture. However, Otto Wagner’s structures were the ones that impacted the modernist movement. His effect on Vienna’s architecture is felt across the city, as observed by Adolf Loos, who is claimed to have called Wagner the world’s greatest architect.

An architectural review of location: Vienna - Sheet4
Front Facade of Majolika Haus_©Linke Wienzeile Buildings (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. _© (Accessed: February 15, 2023).

In Vienna, Wagner’s architecture is breathtaking. The Majolika Haus’ striking tiled front makes this 1899 apartment building desirable even today. His ornate Majolika Haus is named for the weather-resistant ceramic tiles painted in floral designs on its façade, which are similar to majolica pottery. The structure is deemed Art Nouveau despite its flat, rectilinear design. Wagner used fresh, modern materials and rich colors while adhering to old decoration techniques. The characteristic majolica, ornamental iron balconies, and flexible, S-shaped linear decoration highlight the construction of the building.

Jugendstil is the term used in Vienna for Art Nouveau. The Vienna Secession was created in 1897 by a collaboration of Austrian artists; although Wagner was not a founder, he was still affiliated with the movement. The Secession was founded on the concept that art and architecture should be of their own time, rather than a revival or copy of previous forms such as Classical, Gothic, or Renaissance. The German words der zeit ihre kunst (to every age its art) and der kunst ihre freiheit  (to art its freedom) can be found on the Secession exhibition hall in Vienna.

Modern Vienna: The evolution of design

Hundertwasser-Haus Front facade_©Hundertwasserhaus in Wien – Alle Infos und Eintrittspreise (no date) _© (Accessed: February 15, 2023).

Today, Vienna is a hub for architectural innovation. The brilliance and progression of design and architecture seen in Vienna over the years are impeccable. Hundertwasser-Haus is a modern and recent building that displays an organic design with uneven flooring, abundant flora, and dazzling colors. The Wotruba Church– a sculptural approach with a seemingly random stack of 152 concrete parts sits in harmony and contrast with its surroundings. Gasometers of Vienna turned four 112-year-old gasometers into a new urban complex with offices and shops that became adaptive reuse on a grand scale.

With a rich history and genuinely impressive legacy, the range of structures in Austria’s capital is unsurprising. New buildings compete with opulent structures that become more lovely with each passing year. Vienna continues to introduce and present architecture to the globe in interesting ways and has always been a bustling architectural and artistic center.  


Craven, J. (2019) Celebrating Vienna’s architecture, ThoughtCo. ThoughtCo. Available at: (Accessed: February 14, 2023). 

Saint Stephen’s cathedral (no date) Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at: (Accessed: February 15, 2023). 

Architecture in Vienna (no date) Frommer’s. Available at: (Accessed: February 15, 2023). 

Craven, J. (2018) The Art Nouveau of Otto Wagner, ThoughtCo. ThoughtCo. Available at: (Accessed: February 15, 2023). 

Virginia Duran (2017) 23 spots you shouldn’t miss in Vienna if you love architecture, Virginia Duran. Available at: (Accessed: February 15, 2023). 


Shrini Shrivastava is a passionate and enthusiastic architecture student, looking for new prospects to explore. She aims to demonstrate the influence journalism has in the field of architecture and believes that a variety of elements- from human psychology to individual upbringing, can make-or-break architecture.