Golden Column, Parliament, Vienna, Austria

Golden Column, Parliament, Vienna, Austria

Originally known as the Reichsratsgebäude (Imperial Council Building), the Neo-Classical Austrian Parliament Building is one of the crown jewels in Vienna’s Ringstrasse. In A.D. 1869, an Imperial Commission decided that Greece – birthplace of democracy – should serve as the inspiration and appointed Theophil von Hansen to create a temple of political harmony.

Unfortunately, some of the politicians didn’t get the harmony memo. Until World War I, the parliament was renowned for its bad behavior. Brawls were started, inkwells were chucked, and speeches went on and on and on and on.

“The Czechs in particular were renowned for the baroque extravagance of their filibustering. The Cisleithanian parliament became a celebrated tourist attraction, especially in winter, when Viennese pleasure-seekers crowed into the heated visitors’ galleries. By contrast with the city’s theaters and opera houses, a Berlin journalist wrily observed, entry to parliamentary sessions was free.”

The building was heavily damaged during World War II bombing, but restored soon after.

* See The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark.