Austrian Parliament building

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Austrian Parliament building ( 640x480 )
The Parliament Building (in German: Parlament or Hohes Haus) is located on Ringstrasse, in the first district Innere Stadt in Vienna, close to the Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Palace of Justice. It was designed by the Danish architect Baron Theophil von Hansen as an imposing meeting place for the House of Deputies and the “House of Lords”, the two chambers of the Austrian parliament at the time of the Monarchy. Today, the Parliament Building is seat of the National Council (Nationalrat) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat). The construction began in June 1874, and the first rooms were ready for occupation in November 1883. During the Second World War the building was partly destroyed and it had to be reconstructed. The reconstruction was completed in 1956. The building was built in neo-Greek style which was chosen as a reminder of antique Greece as the "cradle of democracy". There are over 100 rooms on the area of 13 500 square metres. The most important are the Chambers of the National Council, the Federal Council and the former imperial House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). There are also many committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining-rooms, bars and even gymnasiums. Most national ceremonies are held here, for example the state speech of the President of Austria on National Day (October 26).

From the outside, the Austrian Parliament resembles a well structured palace, symmetrically decorated with statues and a mosaic. In front of the main entrance one can see a monumental fountain bearing a marble statue of the goddess Pallas Athena (over 5 m high) and there are also six allegorical figures towers in front of the ramps leading up to the parliament building. The Athena Fountain was erected between 1893 and 1902 by Carl Kundmann, Josef Tautenhayn, and Hugo Haerdlt, based on the plans by Baron von Hansen. In the middle there is a water-basin and a richly decorated base. The four lying figures at the foot of Athena are allegorical representations of the four most important rivers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (the Danube, the Inn, the Elbe and the Moldau). The female statues above represent the legislative and executive powers of the state.
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