Founded in 1741 by Empress Maria Theresia, the resplendent Burgtheater is not only the Austrian National Theatre, but one of the largest and most important theaters in Europe. The ‘Burg’ started out in a banqueting hall of Hofburg palace, but moved to its current location in 1888, becoming one of the final monumental buildings to adorn Vienna’s Ringstrasse, sited opposite the grand City Hall. Designed by German architect Gottfried Semper, the ornamental façade takes on an Italian high-Renaissance style, flanked by Corinthian pillars and adorned with sculptures and elaborate friezes.
The opulent interiors, the handiwork of local architect Karl von Hasenauer, are similarly breathtaking, with highlights including the 60-foot ‘Worshippers of Bacchus’ relief by Rudolf Wyer and the dazzling foyer, featuring hand-painted staircases and ceiling frescoes by Ernst and Gustav Klimt.
Today, alongside being a popular tourist attraction, the Burgtheater’s varied program shows over 800 annual performances with everything from classical to contemporary to experimental theatre from some of the most renowned directors, playwrights and actors of the German-speaking world.