The Peristyle or Colonnaded Hall
In line with Theophil Hansen’s building plan the spacious central hall in the Parliament Building was to be a place that promoted the meeting of minds – at that time of the elected deputies and the members of the Upper House. Today, it serves for receptions and exhibitions. Politicians often use it as a backdrop for interviews.
The 24 Corinthian marble columns on which the ceiling and glass roof rest are monoliths, i.e. hewn from a single block of marble, and weigh some 16 tons each. The Hall is 40 metres long and 24 metres wide and covers about one half of a soccer field.
The marble floor rests on a concrete bed and the hollow space underneath was used for heating and ventilating the Hall on the model of ancient Roman hypocaust underfloor heating systems.
The upper parts of the marble panelled walls of the Hall bear, on the narrow sides and parts of the longitudinal wall the remnants of a frieze painting by Eduard Lebiedzki which, following Theophil Hansen’s conception, was to depict the evolution of civilisation, particularly in the Austrian lands. The painting was partly destroyed during the Second World War. The parts still extant have been restored and show, inter alia, scenes devoted to legislation and family life.
Parts of the Hall structure were severely damaged by a bomb in the course of the War. Even though restoration aimed at utmost authenticity, the colour shades and structure of the marble used show clearly that the last two columns on the left at the rear end of the colonnade are replicas.