Austrian Parliament Building

Austrian Parliament Building (22)

This building was erected between 1874 and 1884 to house the two chambers of the Imperial Council, or Austrian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was designed by architect Teophil Hansen who, aware of the functions that his work would carry out, decided on a historicist style. Recalling Greece's stature as the cradle of democracy, Hansen designed a structure reminiscent of an ancient Greek temple. 

Reinforcing this nostalgic vision, facing the large portico supported by Corinthian columns is a marble sculpture created in 1902 by Karl Kundmann and known as Atheneabrunnen. As the name suggests, the figure represents Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

The parliament building houses two large meeting rooms that correspond to the parliamentary structure established in the country in 1861, which consisted of an upper and a lower house. It was here that the members of parliament ratified the transition to the Republic in 1918 as well as the Federal Constitution, the legal text that forms the backbone of the current Austrian state, in 1919 and 1920.

While severe bombings of World War II damaged much of the structure, it was rebuilt over a period of many years and was finally completed in 1956. Most of the building retains its original appearance. However, since the renovation, the meeting room of one the houses looks has taken on a more modern aesthetic.

The Hansen building is currently home to the two legislative bodies of the Republic of Austria, the National Council and the Federal Council. The first consists of 183 members and is essentially responsible for legislation, while the second, with 62 members, represents the interests of the nine federal states of modern Austria on a national level and holds power of veto over legislation, providing, of course, it is able to provide a solid argument.  

Since 2005, another building designed by Theophil Hansen, the neighbouring Palais Epstein, has been used for additional meetings of the various parliamentary groups and committees, though it retains its function as a multi-purpose space.

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