Architecture & History

From the very first moment, the Austrian Parliament was created as a lasting home for the country's democracy.

Building Democracy

The Parliament Building dates back to the second half of the 19th century. It is located on the Ringstraße, where the city wall used to be. After the demolition of the city wall, Emperor Franz Josef released the vacant areas for development with representative buildings.

Ancient Role Models

The Danish architect Theophil Hansen was commissioned to design the Parliament in 1869. He took structural shapes and symbolism from the formal language of Greek antiquity to recall the origins of democracy.

The foundation stone for the "Reichsratsgebäude" (Imperial Council Building), now the Parliament, was laid in September 1874; Hansen considered the Parliament Building his life's work. In addition to designing the Building, he conceived the entire interior, down to the furniture. The architect died in Vienna at the age of 77 on February 17, 1891.

A Bystander's Literary Notes

The famous American writer Mark Twain, who spent a few years in Vienna, bore witness to the fascinating and sometimes chaotic scenes during parliamentary sittings in a 1899 article titled "Stirring times in Austria":

"Here in Vienna in these closing days of 1897 one's blood gets no chance to stagnate. The atmosphere is brimful of political electricity. All conversation is political; every man is a battery, with brushes over-worn, and gives out blue sparks when you set him going on the common topic. Everybody has an opinion, and lets you have it frank and hot."

The Building's History

The Parliament Building is full of stories and rich history reflecting that of the country.



Preserving the historically-valuable Building and creating a place for modern parliamentarism: In 2014, it was decided to renovate the Parliament after more than 130 years of operation. In 2018, construction work began.

Opening up the Parliament: A Building for All

The Parliament now presents itself barrier-free, modern and service-oriented. The Building now has more accessible technology and services for people with disabilities. 

The Demokratikum – Experience Parliament welcomes guests with an Infopoint and the Parliament Shop. Located behind the Demokratikum are the Parliament's Library & Archives; the adjacent Café Agora invites you to linger. A culinary highlight — the Kelsen restaurant — is located on the newly developed top floor.

After a project duration of around 10 years, the Parliament opened its doors for parliamentary business and for all visitors in January 2023.

Before and after the renovation

The Parliament has undergone a stunning metamorphosis during the renovation. See how the rooms and spaces changed in this compilation of before and after shots.