The Main Building â€“ a historic centre
Among the monuments on the Viennese RingstraĂźe, 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, Town 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 RingstraĂźe is the historic centre of the University of Vienna; here we find the University management, the university library, the student admission office, the administration, some facilities run by individual institutes and faculties, the Audimax (main lecture hall), and a plethora of other lecture rooms.
Aula (assembly hall) and Arcades
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 Arcade Court with arcades enables both students and employees to enjoy recreation and communication and also serves as a monument to famous scientists and academics.
154 busts and plaques in the arcades remind us of renowned research scientists of the University. During the summer months, the cafĂ© in the courtyard offers refreshments in historical surroundings.
Main Ceremonial Chamber (GroĂźer Festsaal)
At the centre of the Main Building we find the Main Ceremonial Chamber (GroĂźe Festsaal), 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 Theresia, 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 burnt at the end of the Second World War. The original version of "Theology" has survived and hangs in the Deanâ€™s office of the Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology.
For further reading:
Kurt MĂĽhlberger: Palace of Knowledge. A historical stroll through the main building of the Alma Mater Rudolphina Vindobonensis. Published by the University of Vienna. Vienna: BĂ¶hlau Verlag 2008.
Thomas Maisel: Scholars in Stone and Bronze. The Monuments in the Arcaded Courtyard of the University of Vienna. Vienna: BĂ¶hlau Verlag 2008.
Download the Image folder of the University of Vienna (PDF, 1,2 MB).