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Vienna apartment block | © robertprax / pixabay
Vienna apartment block | © robertprax / pixabay
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A Tour Of The Best Architecture In Vienna

Picture of Kate Jackson
Updated: 2 February 2017
The city of Vienna is home to a number of epic architectural ensembles and fashions, from the classical Baroque designs to the more bizarre modern creations, such as the world-famous Hundertwasserhaus. Art Nouveau was a popular architectural style during the 19th century, and post-war Vienna saw many interesting structures pop up. Here’s our pick of the most interesting to visit.

Wohnpark-Alterlaa

This magnificent curved building stands, striking and unmissable, in the suburban 23rd district on the outskirts of Vienna. It is a curiously futuristic, sprawling and intimidating structure, designed in the 1970s by progressive Austrian architect, Harry Glück. This social housing complex was built with the radical idea of creating homes for the poor, with all the benefits that the wealthy favour. Inside this incredible structure (it is akin to a small town) are all the necessary amenities: shops, a doctors surgery and even a swimming pool on the roof. Many thousands of people reside in Alterlaa and it is seen as one of Vienna’s most successful social housing estates.

Social Housing complex Alt-Erlaa | © Andrew Lloyd / Andrew Lloyd
Social Housing complex Alt-Erlaa | © Andrew Lloyd / Andrew Lloyd

Gasometers

These former gas tanks have been transformed into luxury housing. Located in the Simmering area, the 90,000 storage capacity structures were used to supply the local area with gas from 1896. Now protected historical landmarks, the spherical buildings have become flats and ‘villages.’ They have become a phenomenon in the architectural world, with numerous academic works being written on the subject of the Gasometers.

The gas tanks were converted into apartments | © Martin Abegglen / Flickr
The gas tanks were converted into apartments | © Martin Abegglen / Flickr

Stephansdom Cathedral

The mesmerising multicoloured mosaic roof tiles of this Gothic style Cathedral is remarkable to behold. It is a true masterpiece; you could spend hours gazing at it and still pick out something new. A fire during WWII caused extensive damage to the building, but mass restoration and rebuilding gave the cathedral a new lease of life. The Stephansdome draws nearly 3 million visitors through its door each year, making it one of Vienna’s best-loved attractions.

The elaborate tiles on the roof of the Cathedral | © Lilaminzr / pixabay
The elaborate tiles on the roof of the Cathedral | © Lilaminzr / pixabay

Postsparkasse

This is one of Vienna’s modernist masterpieces and was designed by architect Otto Wagner. It is currently the site of the Austrian Postal Savings Bank. Besides its somewhat drab function, the architectural landscape of the Postsparkasse is a sight to behold, with a famous modernist style.

Austrian Postal Savings Bank | © piotr iłowiecki / Flickr
Austrian Postal Savings Bank | © piotr iłowiecki / Flickr

Hundertwasserhaus

Often on the front of tourist guide books to Vienna, this kaleidoscopic apartment building is a focal point of Viennese architecture, designed as an antidote to modernist architecture. The eccentrically decorated facade is other-worldly; seeming to belong in an expressionist painting. What lies inside must, unfortunately, be left up to the imagination, as it is restricted to the public, although tourists can visit the adjacent Hundertwasser Village.

The colourful dacade of the Hundertwasserhaus | © macstre / flickr
The colourful dacade of the Hundertwasserhaus | © macstre / flickr

The Flak Towers

Not necessarily the ‘best’, but certainly interesting, these 3 imposing structures were constructed by the Nazis during the Second World War, with the purpose of keeping enemies at bay. The Austrian Republic has since then optimistically transformed them into forces for good; an aquarium lives inside one and another has an outdoor climbing wall on one side. Threatening and domineering, they are severe and curious eyesores that puncture the beautiful scope of the city and remind those passing by of Austria’s once ominous history.

People look out from the Flak Towers | © -MIna- / Flickr
People look out from the Flak Towers | © -MIna- / Flickr

Secession Building

An excellent example of Art Nouveau architecture in Vienna, this grand building is the exhibition hall that houses many of Austria’s most revered artistic triumphs. The glittering golden orb and clean white walls are beautiful to behold. Built in 1897, when the first president of the building was Austria’s symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, who had much involvement with the gallery throughout his life.

The Golden Sphere of the Sucession Building | © aviano / pixabay
The Golden Sphere of the Sucession Building | © aviano / pixabay

MUMOK and the Museumsquartier

Concrete breezeblocks were the chosen material for this contemporary art museum, giving it a bold and imposing exterior. It is part of the Museum’s Quartier, an ambitious architectural project that marries together some of the city’s most popular art galleries. The courtyard also serves as an excellent hang-out spot for locals and tourists in the summer.

MUMOK and the Museum's Quartier | © Nicolas Vollmer / Flickr
MUMOK and the Museum’s Quartier | © Nicolas Vollmer / Flickr

Palmenhaus, Schönbrunn

This grand glasshouse is the largest of its kind in Europe and lives on the grounds of Schönbrunn Park. It is a green paradise inside, with horticulture from around the world. Created in 1881 by Franz Xaver Segenschmid, the pavilions have multiple ‘climate zones’ which regulate the temperature for the plants – a ‘cold house’ for the north and a ‘tropical zone’ in the south.

The palm house at Schobrunn | © Usinglight / pixabay
The palm house at Schobrunn | © Usinglight / pixabay