The imposing Maria Theresien Square with its magnificent monument on Vienna's Ringstrasse was once intended to become part of the Imperial Forum and is now one of the most frequented squares in Vienna.
Flanked by the magnificent monumental buildings of the Museum of Art and Natural History, Maria Theresien Square on the Ringstrasse is one of the most impressive squares in Vienna. Situated at a prominent address next to Heldenplatz and the Hofburg, it was once intended to become part of the imposing Imperial Forum, which was planned in the 1860s under Emperor Franz Joseph but never realised.
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PICTURES: Maria-Theresien-Platz in Vienna
Photo gallery: Maria-Theresien-Platz in Vienna
"Space between the museums"
Today, the "square between the museums" is one of the most frequented sights in Austria's capital and, together with the historic centre of Vienna, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Matching the two former court museums is the Museumsquartier on the fourth side of the square. The former imperial court stables now house the MUMOK and the Leopold Museum, two other important art museums in the city.
Maria Theresa Monument
The impressive monument to Empress Maria Theresa in the centre of the square is the largest and most important Habsburg monument in Vienna. It was unveiled in 1888, one year before the opening of the Natural History Museum. It was designed by Karl von Hasenauer, who also worked as an architect on the two court museums and the Burgtheater.
The statue of the empress, who reigned from 1740 to 1780, is 6 metres high and is surrounded by the four cardinal virtues of justice, strength, gentleness and wisdom. In total, the monument reaches a height of almost 20 metres.
Generals at the feet of the Empress
The four reliefs around the base depict advisors, administrators, the military, and science and art. Here, for example, Joseph Haydn and the childlike Mozart can be seen. The four equestrian statues recall successful commanders of the era of Maria Theresa:
- Ludwig Andreas von Khevenhüller, who fought under Prince Eugene against the Turks
- Leopold Joseph von Daun, general in the Seven Years' War
- Gideon Ernst von Laudon, Field Marshal in the War of the Bavarian Succession and the 8th Turkish War
- Otto Ferdinand von Abensperg und Traun, Field Marshal in the War of the Austrian Succession and bearer of the Golden Fleece
Triton and Naiad Fountains
Around the Maria Theresa Monument, the four lawns are crowned by the Triton and Naiad fountains, which were created between 1887 and 1890 and erected and unveiled in their intended places four years after their completion. They all depict the sea god Triton in the company of a naiad, a female water creature from Greek mythology.
Tip: Maria-Theresien-Platz is at its most impressive during Advent, when one of Vienna's most beautiful and atmospheric Christmas markets takes place between the museums.