Among the monuments on the Viennese strasseRingstrasse, this building belonging to the University of Vienna takes pride of place. This imposing structure in the immediate vicinity of other representative buildings such as Parliament, Vienna City Hall, and Burgtheater (national theatre) was opened in 1884. Architect Heinrich von Ferstel created a new type of building, reflecting the status of the capital Vienna and the social importance of academia.
The Main Building on the Ringstrasse is the historic centre of the University of Vienna; here we find the university management, the University Library, the Admission Office, the administration, some facilities run by individual departments and faculties, the Audimax (main lecture hall), and a plethora of other lecture rooms.
The Aula of the Main Building was reconstructed in 2005 to 2006 to form a light, functional entrance area that also caters for people with special needs. To the left of the Aula we find a directory of all the rectors of the University of Vienna, starting with Albertus Rigennstorff, the first rector (1365).
Portrait photographs of the nine Nobel laureates of the University of Vienna are shown on modern glass steles.
The adjoining Arcaded Courtyard enables both students and employees to enjoy recreation and communication and also serves as a monument to famous academics.
154 busts and plaques in the arcades remind us of renowned research scholars of the University. During the summer months, the café in the courtyard offers refreshments in historical surroundings.
At the centre of the Main Building we find the Große Festsaal (Main Ceremonial Chamber), which provides a festive framework for ceremonies such as graduations. Two statues show Rudolph IV, the founder of the University of Vienna, and the Empress Maria Theresa, during whose reign a very important university reform was implemented.
On the ceiling of the Main Ceremonial Chamber, there is the centrepiece 'Triumph of Light' (Franz Matsch), framed by black-and-white reproductions of the faculty picture 'Theology' (also by Franz Matsch) and 'Philosophy', 'Medicine' and 'Jurisprudence' by Gustav Klimt. The three originals by Gustav Klimt were destroyed by fire at the end of the Second World War. The original version of 'Theology' has survived and hangs in the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Catholic Theology.
Kurt Mühlberger: Palace of Knowledge. A historical stroll through the main building of the Alma Mater Rudolphina Vindobonensis. Published by the University of Vienna. Vienna: Böhlau Verlag 2008.
Thomas Maisel: Scholars in Stone and Bronze. The Monuments in the Arcaded Courtyard of the University of Vienna. Vienna: Böhlau Verlag 2008.
Iris Andraschek: "The Muse has had it". Texts from Cornelia Blum, Sylwia Bukowska, Silvia Eiblmayr and others. Vienna: Verlag Christian Brandstätter 2009.
Download the image brochure of the University of Vienna (PDF, 2 MB).