Vienna and Vienna University



The Sixteenth International Congress of the International Association for Neo-Latin Studies is being sponsored by the IANLS and the University of Vienna. The congress will take place 2-7 August 2015 in Vienna, Austria. It will start in Vienna with registration on Sunday evening (2 August) and will formally close with the conference dinner on Friday evening (7 August), with an excursion on the following day.


Vienna is a city with a long history, multiple traditions and high culture. Saint Stephen’s Cathedral dominates the centre of the city and is closely connected with Duke Rudolph IV, the founder of the Gothic cathedral and of the University as well. One can find baroque representation at the palace of Schönbrunn with its magnificent park and surroundings. What is probably best known of Vienna is its music, renowned composers as well as famous institutions like the Opera House or the Hall of the Friends of Music. A great event takes place every year in front of the town hall – the official opening of the Wiener Festwochen –, and there is also a music and film festival in August. Although music is important for Vienna, theatre has not been neglected either. Just opposite the town hall the Burgtheater is located. There are, of course, a number of other important institutions like the Volkstheater or the Schauspielhaus, which is completely dedicated to contemporary authors. Many buildings like the Opera House, the House of Parliament and the main building of the University were constructed in the late 19th century after the town walls had been pulled down. Each of these buildings is imitating another style of the past, e.g. in Neo-Gothic or Neo-Baroque manner. This mixture of “Neos” has long been despised, until about three or four decades ago critics have begun to appreciate it as one of the characteristic features of late imperial Vienna.


Everybody who prefers to go to one of the big museums, should better make an early decision, which department – e.g. the picture gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum – (s)he wants to concentrate on, otherwise there is the risk of getting exhausted. Vienna is not only a city of old traditions, it is also a city of genuine innovation, as represented e.g. by the Jugendstil (also known as “art nouveau”), for which one can find an especially impressive example in the building and decorations of the so-called Secession near the Opera House. As to famous painters and architects, one of the oldest and one of the most prominent of our time shall only be mentioned briefly. The first is Meister Pilgram showing himself below the pulpit of Saint Stephen’s, the later is Friedensreich Hundertwasser with his extremely unconventional house. Of special interest is Heinrich von Ferstel: as a young man, about 1860, he built the Votivkirche, which had been vowed by the brother of the Emperor, after an attempt to assassinate Franz Josef had failed. If one can accept “Neo”-styles at all, one will soon agree that this is one of the most beautiful Neo-Gothic churches in the world. Nevertheless, a building near by is more important for the congress: it is Ferstel’s last and most magnificent work, the main building of the University of Vienna, the congress venue. It was designed as a monument to show the greatness of the Empire, but, of course, also as a centre of arts and science. After a long period of construction, and only after the death of Ferstel, it was officially opened by the emperor himself in 1884: The University of Vienna as an institution will celebrate its 650th anniversary in 2015. In 1365 Duke Rudolph IV, known as “the Founder”, decided to follow the example of Prague, where a university had been established in 1348 by the emperor Charles IV, Rudolph’s father in law.


Vienna’s studium generale easily reached the standards of a medieval university, but for a faculty of theology, which was added by Rudolph’s successor Albrecht III in 1386. The foundation documents of both dukes are still extant and of great historical value. There is also a contemporary painting of the collegium ducale, where the University was housed under Albrecht. In the following centuries it moved to various buildings, among others to the present Jesuit College and to the magnificent edifice now belonging to the Austrian Academy of Science. Today the centre of the University is Ferstel’s building on the Wiener Ringstraße mentioned above, but its academic institutions are spread over more than 60 locations.

In the course of six and a half centuries there were, of course, highlights as well as drawbacks. An especially important measure was taken in 1848, when the University of Vienna was completely re-organized according to the principles of Wilhelm von Humboldt, which were, however, adapted to the special requirements of Vienna and initiated an almost unbelievable progress and success in many disciplines, among them the humanities, in the later years of the 19th century. Nowadays the University of Vienna is the oldest one in all German speaking countries and one of the largest in Central Europe. About 91,000 students and 9,400 employees are currently studying and working there, making it the largest research and teaching institution in Austria.


The address of the main building – where all meetings and lectures will take place – has recently been changed. It had been “Dr. Karl Lueger-Ring 1” for a long time, but now it is “Universitätsring 1”. Lueger was a prominent and very efficient mayor of Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century, but he was also a rather unscrupulous politician, who did not refrain from anti-Semitic propaganda, if it served his purposes. Therefore it was decided that the address of Austria’s first university should no longer bear his name.

The University of Vienna – the Alma Mater Rudolphina, as it is traditionally called – is looking forward to welcome the Sixteenth International Congress of the IANLS at its 650th anniversary in 2015:

ianls vienna 2015 | Universitätsring 1  | 1010 Wien