Wien, Franzensring, Fotografie, um 1908

The Ringstrasse as a liberal, middle-class arena


A boulevard, lined with parks and prestigious edifices, is laid around the old city centre of Vienna. It becomes the catwalk of the new haute volée: the upper middle classes of the Monarchy immortalize themselves in imposing town palaces near the imperial Hofburg, opulently furnished and decorated in the Historicist style, meeting up with their own kind while strolling on the corso, at the coffee house and in the Grand Hotel. An historical pageant designed by Hans Makart, ‘painter-prince’ and idol of Ringstrasse society, makes the Ringstrasse what it became famous for: an elegant Viennese promenade for strolling, a place of outward display, to look at others and to be seen oneself. The Ring boulevard offered everyone the opportunity of entering the world of the rich and beautiful, if only for the space of a walk.

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