The Austrian parliament re-opened in January 2023 after a lengthy renovation process. Five years and 420 mio Euro later the renovations were done and the public invited to view what their money was spent on. The official ceremonial opening act happened on January 12 and two days later the regular people lined up to enter the parliament.
Despite a long queue around the block, we managed to keep the waiting time to a minimum. Which was essential for the young man in our group, who seemed to be absolutely unwilling at first to tag along. But in Austria the voting age lies by 16 years, so some knowledge about politics and the legislature goes a long way.
My one and only time inside the parliament was ages ago. I think it’s obligatory for school children (at least in Vienna) to visit the parliament once in their school career. At that time we sat high up in the ‘bleachers’ and listened to the parliamentarians debating. This time, with an open house, I was sticking my nose into every open room.
The national assembly hall got a full makeover, even though it’s not really visible. But the parliament moved into the 21st century and got a digital upgrade in all the right places. Even the federal eagle shines bright again.
The biggest change here was the insertion of a glass roof. Crows apparently didn’t like that so much and already threw stones on it, which made the roof break in a couple of places. It got repaired, but you can still see the cracks when you look closely (you must be on the last floor for that). The roof was a further source of joy, because the acoustics changed through it. This not only needed more work, but also pushed the opening date back another month. To fix it some plastic sheeting has been put underneath the roof, so it’s supposedly better.
Just wondering though in times of global warming and high energy costs. How climate friendly is a glass roof? As a layman I would think that it’s cooling in winter and heating up in summer. But maybe you know better and I got it all wrong.
Personally I liked the hall of the federal assembly (both chambers of parliament) best. Here the changes looked minimal, although everything has been restored as well. This hall is only used for special occasions, like the re-opening of parliament or the swearing in of the president. It always had a sunroof and it definitely looks special!
Also the hall of pillars always had a sun roof, which does look amazing if slightly dark here on my picture.
I found the public access last weekend a unique opportunity to get some insights in the workings of the Austrian parliament. On the ground level you can also find a visitor center, which provides more details about democracy in Austria. Also new are four restaurants on the top level, which can also be accessed by the public. Never in history, have we been closer to our representatives. We will see, if this is a good thing. The building though, is definitely worth your time. Please note that you need to register before you can access the parliament. Yours, Pollybert
1017 Wien, Dr. Karl Renner-Ring 3
Tel: +43 1 40110-2400
Mon-Fri: 08:00-19:00, Sat: 09:00-17:00