University of Vienna

University of Vienna is the oldest German-language university in the world, housed in a Heinrich von Ferstel designed building within Ringstrasse.

The university building was built, at the same time to the nearby Wiener Rathaus and Austrian parliament building, from 1877-1884.

The university was founded much earlier, however, in 1365, which makes it the third oldest university in central Europe.

The building’s architect, Heinrich von Ferstel, used a plan that combines Renaissance’s rich details to the monumentalism of Baroque.

University of Vienna Austria

PHOTO: The main entrance to the university, as seen from Ringstrasse.

Universitas Litterarum VindobonensisPHOTO: Golden letters (in Latin) above the main entrance read “Universitas Litterarum Vindobonensis”…or in English “The Principle of Search for and Teaching of Knowledge in All of Its Forms”. Artwork above the text is “Birth of Minerva”, portraying Minerva, the ancient Roman goddess of wisdom.

To get inspiration for the building, Ferstel used old Italian university buildings (in Bologna, Rome, and Genoa) as an inspiration.

Also, he borrowed ideas from Palazzo Farnese (in Rome) for the university’s inner courtyard.

Highlights within the building include…

  • about 150 sculptures and bas-relief artworks,
  • The Fountain of Wisdom“, by Edmund Hellmer from 1910,
  • Großer Festsaal, and
  • wall frescoes by Franz Matsch (from designs by Gustav Klimt).

The university building is very large (161m x 133m, 528ft x 436ft), with original intention being that all of the faculties would fit under its roof.

Universität Wien

Address: Universitätsring 1 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official website:

Today, however, the university has spread out to over 50 buildings throughout Vienna.

Famous former students of Universität Wien include:

  • Sigmund Freud,
  • Gustav Mahler,
  • Gregor Mendel,
  • Pope Pius III, and
  • Karl Popper.