The redevelopment plans and building of the Ringstrasse

21/03/2013 05:40
The redevelopment plans and building of the Ringstrasse      

During the middle of the 19th century Vienna still had its city walls. The fortifications, bastions and glacis (an artificial slightly slanted mound of earth outside a ditch or wall intended to deflect or absorb cannon fire) were maintained by forbidding any development in the area surrounding the walls. This vast open area beyond the walls was used as a recreation area for the people of Vienna.

The Revolution of 1848 politicised the issue of the removal of the city walls. The vast majority of the population wanted to see them removed, but the aristocracy preferred them to remain, citing the revolution as proof they were still needed as protection for the Imperial Family and as a deterrent to further uprisings.

In 1857, Franz Joseph ordered the demolition of the walls and the redevelopment of the area around the city and its suburbs. An aqueduct was to be built to supply the city with fresh water from the surrounding areas and a drainage system, together with gas lighting, formed part of the overall plan.

In 1860 the development plan was published showing the area surrounding the city was to become a broad heptagonal shaped avenue with new buildings on either side, which was to be called the Ringstrasse.

The Imperial Army had the responsibility of protecting the Imperial Family and insisted that the Ringstrasse should be constructed in such a way as to provide a maximum amount of safety.

Two new barracks and an arsenal were built in strategic locations near to the city to ensure a quick military response should the city need it.

The area between the Hofburg and surrounding suburbs (Heldenplatz) was kept open and formed an empty space that could easily be reached by military forces.

The Ringstrasse itself was to be some sixty-to-seventy metres wide to avoid any possible barricading. It would completely encircle the old city and would so as to enable rapid troop movements from the new barracks to the city centre.

The construction of the Ringstrasse was an enormous project. Roads leading into the inner city from the suburbs were to feed into the circular flow of the Ringstrasse that separated the city from its suburbs.

The new buildings such as the Parliament, Rathaus and University were to be constructed along the side of the Ringstrasse facing towards the street.

Private individuals, who purchased the land from the city, erected the majority of the new residences. Building restrictions only affected the height of the new buildings but left all other details open.