Parliament in Vienna, Austria

The Vienna Parliament on the Ringstrasse is a magnificent example of Viennese Ringstrasse architecture from the 19th century. Guided tours allow visitors to experience the Austrian state at first hand within its impressive walls.

The Parliament building in the heart of Vienna houses the government of Austria with the Federal Council, the National Council and the legislative chambers. The impressive building is located on Vienna's Ringstraße in the immediate vicinity of the Burgtheater and the City Hall.


PICTURES: Parliament in Vienna

Photo gallery: Parliament in Vienna

Facade of the Vienna Parliament

The pediment of the main entrance is adorned with a monumental 38-ton marble relief depicting Emperor Franz Joseph I as the Roman Emperor, Parliament in Vienna, Austria - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The parliament building was designed in the style of Greek classicism and is magnificent to look at from the outside. Its entrance is not coincidentally reminiscent of the world-famous Parthenon temple of the Acropolis in Athens.

In front of the columned entrance hall is enthroned the Pallas Athena fountain, on which the Greek goddess of wisdom is flanked by the legislature with the law book and the executive with the judging sword. At her feet are allegories of the Danube, Inn, Elbe and Vltava rivers.

To the right and left of the fountain, two ramps lead to the main entrance, lined with Greek and Roman historians. Thucydides, Polybius, Xenophon, Herodotus as well as Julius Caesar, Tacitus, Livius and Sallust are meant to remind incoming and outgoing politicians of "responsibility towards history".

The gable of the main entrance is decorated with a monumental 38-ton marble relief depicting Emperor Franz Joseph I as the Roman Emperor. The two chariots drawn by four horses to the right and left of the pediment are intended to symbolise the triumph of parliamentarianism.

Visit to the Vienna Parliament

The main entrance of the Vienna Parliament is beautifully lit at night, Austria - © DeepGreen / Shutterstock
© DeepGreen / Shutterstock

The magnificent premises of the Parliament can only be visited on guided tours, which can be booked at the Visitor Centre below the ramp leading to the entrance portal. Visitors are not only introduced to the typical Ringstrasse architecture of the 19th century, but also to the state system of the Republic of Austria.

Great Hall of Columns

The columns and pediments of the Parliament in Vienna make the Greek influence on architecture more than clear, Austria - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

Through the monumental main portal of the Parliament building, one passes through the Upper Vestibule and the Atrium into the Great Hall of Columns, the largest room in the building with an area of almost 1,000 square metres.


Particularly noteworthy here are the floor of finest marble and the enormous Corinthian columns, each carved from a single block of marble. Regular receptions, exhibitions and other events take place in this imposing hall.

Meeting rooms

The historic session hall of the Parliament in Vienna is used only for acts of state at which both chambers of Parliament are present, Austria - © TimothyMichaelMorgan/Shutterstock
© TimothyMichaelMorgan/Shutterstock

Other highlights of a tour of the Parliament include the meeting rooms of the National Council and the Federal Council and the historic Reichsrat meeting room, which served as the meeting room of the House of Representatives in the days of the monarchy.

Today, the room, which is modelled on a Greek theatre, is used for federal meetings attended by both the National Council and the Federal Council. A look up reveals the ornate glass roof, which was painted by hand.

Apart from guided tours, interested people can get information about Parliament at the freely accessible Visitor Centre. The plenary sessions of the National Council are also open to the public and can be accessed free of charge after registering at the visitor centre with photo ID.

History of the Parliament Building of Vienna

Pallas Athena and one of the bronze Rossbändiger statues in wintry Vienna at night, with the City Hall Tower in the background, Austria - © Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock
© Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock

Emperor Franz Joseph I had today's parliament building erected together with the town hall and the university on a former parade and military training ground. The foundation stone of the magnificent building, then still called the Imperial Council Building, was laid on 2 September 1874.

The parliament building was constructed by the architect Theophil Hansen, whose design was strongly oriented towards Greek classicism. Both the columns and gables of the building and the monumental statue of Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom, on the fountain of the same name, also built by Hansen, make the Greek influence more than clear. Converted, the construction of the parliament today would devour around 200 million euros.

In total, the parliament has 1,600 rooms. The security staff walk 13 kilometres for a complete tour of the entire parliament.

The first official session was held in December 1883 and shortly before the proclamation of the Republic of Austria on 12 November 1918, the Imperial Council was replaced by the "Parliament of German Austria" and the National and Federal Councils moved into the parliament building.


During the Second World War, the building was not used for parliamentary purposes; on the contrary, it was severely damaged in the bombing raids on Vienna. In 1945, the government moved back in and the reconstruction lasted until 1956. In the course of the original repair work, the meeting hall was completely renewed and equipped with the latest technology.

Related links:

Official website of the Vienna Parliament