Video tour of the Austrian Federal Chancellery
Accompany us on a virtual tour of the most important rooms of the Austrian Federal Chancellery. Many of the rooms presented here are of historic importance. At the same time, however, they have not lost their original function, still serving as conference rooms and offices. For example, today the stone room hosts the press briefings that take place after Cabinet meetings.
Speaker: Ballhausplatz 2, an address with almost 300 years of history! The palace was built based on the pentagonal floor plans by Lukas von Hildebrandt between 1717 and 1721 to house the "Secret Court and State Chancellery". After several enlargements, the Federal Chancellery was given its final appearance in 1903. Austria’s foreign policy was made in this building for about 280 years, until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was moved in 2005.
Austria’s federal chancellors have exercised their official duties at Ballhausplatz since 1922. Austrian history has been and is being made in this building! Today the Federal Chancellery is responsible for coordinating general government policies, the legal representation of the Republic of Austria and many other official matters.
Speaker: The grand Baroque staircase with a red carpet leads to the state rooms of the Federal Chancellery. Black, wrought iron handrails add impact to the stairs and are in stark contrast to the modern sculpture at mid-height. The work named "The Little Prince" is by sculptor Fritz Wotruba.
You are entering a place steeped in history, each individual room tells a story about Austria’s eventful political history.
Speaker: The federal chancellor receives his guests in the Stone Hall. A painting of the young Maria Theresa dressed as Queen of Bohemia dominates the room. It is a popular background for photo and film shootings. Opposite the painting, on the wall with the windows opening onto the courtyard, there is a large black floor clock flanked by two female portraits – of Maria Theresa’s daughters Maria Anna and Maria Elisabeth.
Grande Hall of the Council of Ministers
Speaker: The Grey Corner Parlour leads into the Grand Hall of the Council of Ministers, previously the Main Dining Room of State Chancellor Prince Clemens Wenzel Metternich, who was foreign minister from 1809 to 1848.
A massive conference table with green covering dominates the room and contrasts markedly with the red colour of the thick, luxurious rug and the chairs. In the Grand Hall of the Council of Ministers the weekly sessions of the Council of Ministers take place. But this room is used for official receptions as well.
Right behind the federal chancellor’s chair there is a painting showing Emperor Francis Joseph I, after he ascended the throne in 1848. And now he seems to be watching the government members. Moreover, the legendary Sachertorte (Sacher cake) is said to have been served for the first time in the Grand Hall of the Council of Ministers.
Federal Chancellor's Office
Speaker: Preferring a sunnier room, State Chancellor Prince Clemens Wenzel Metternich set up his office in the southern wing of the Federal Chancellery. In 2000 – about 200 years later – the federal chancellor’s office was transferred to this room, which is in fact considerably brighter than the previous chancellor’s office, the so-called "Kreisky Room".
Grey Corner Parlour
Speaker: The Grey Corner Parlour is situated between the Congress Hall and the Grand Hall of the Council of Ministers and contains much of the original furniture. A sumptuous, luxurious room! Originally, the Grey Corner Parlour served as a stately, small dining room. Today meetings and deliberations of the ministers are held here, but the room is also used for smaller receptions and award ceremonies.
Speaker: The Congress Hall is certainly the most history-laden room of the Federal Chancellery. World history was made in this room! The Vienna Congress was held here in the years 1814 and 1815. And this is also where Europe was politically and territorially reorganised under the lead of Prince Metternich, who also went down in history as the "Coachman of Europe".
Five doors for five rulers: The legend was handed down that the rulers of the most important European monarchies had to enter the room at the same time through one of the five doors to sign the congress proceedings. This was supposedly required by the protocol. Such a meeting of rulers has, however, never taken place. The treaty was signed by the authorised representatives and ratified by the monarchs only later.
Nowadays, the Congress Hall is used for the weekly press conferences after the meetings of the Council of Ministers. At this media event, the decisions of the Council of Ministers are presented for news dissemination through the radio, television or the web.
Marble Corner Parlour
Speaker: The Federal Chancellery was damaged severely during World War II. Architect Oswald Haerdtl was responsible for the complete reconstruction. When rebuilding the Marble Corner Parlour, he combined red marble with gilded metal.
With two paintings of the signing of the Austrian State Treaty and the Dollfuß memorial stone, the room impressively reflects episodes of Austria’s more modern history. The lesser known painting in a more impressionist style is by the Austrian painter Sergius Pauser. It caused a scandal as Federal Chancellor Julius Raab rejected it. Robert Fuchs finally created a painting of this historic event in the desired documentary style.
The Dollfuß memorial stone inserted in the floor reminds us of the dramatic events of July 1934, when the NS perpetrators of the coup stormed the Federal Chancellery and murdered the then federal chancellor.
Speaker:In the First Republic this room served as the federal chancellor’s office. After the reconstruction work was completed, it was used as a secretary’s office. Haerdtl had been instructed to incorporate state symbols into the architecture. All rooms designed by him therefore show the federal eagle and the coats of arms of the federal provinces - an example can be seen on the ceiling. The contemporary tapestry by Albert Paris Gütersloh was hung in the "Haerdtl Room" only some years ago. At present, the "Haerdtl Room" is used for informal meetings.
Speaker: The previous Chancellor’s room was redesigned by Oswald Haerdtl after World War II. As it was fashionable at that time, the walls were panelled with dark wood. The coat of arms of Austria and the coats of arms of the federal provinces were presented as inlays on the wall behind the desk. Federal eagles can be found in the mirror frame and the crystal prisms of the chandeliers.
Since 2007 this room has been named after Bruno Kreisky, Austria’s longest-serving federal chancellor. Purportedly, he was not too fond of the dark office, calling it a "cigar box".
Since 2000 it has not been used as the chancellor’s office but as a room for informal meetings.
Video production: Digital Education GmbH, Graz
Text: Walter Reichel, Federal Chancellery of Austria, Federal Press Service
Speaker (German): Katharina Horn
Speaker (English): David Creedon
© Federal Chancellery of Austria, Federal Press Service 2011