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  • Observe the shifting attitudes to art, design and urbanism at the turn of the 20th century

  • Explore the transformation of Vienna into a metropolis of international standing

  • Experience both the classics of early modern Vienna and some hidden gems like Wittgenstein’s house

“Remarkable detailed knowledge of all aspects, clearly communicated in such a way as encouraged us to think all round the subject”

- ACE customer on a previous tour with Alex Koller

As the 20th century commenced, Vienna witnessed an intense outburst of creative and intellectual endeavour, with extraordinary innovations in art, architecture, literature, music and science. Our tour explores this rapid transformation, first by taking a look at Vienna as it was before these momentous changes were to occur. It establishes the orthodoxies of 19th-century styles in order to throw into relief the innovations that were brought in by a new generation in the last decade of the century. Classics like Otto Wagner’s Postsparkasse and Steinhof Church and Klimt’s major works at the Belvedere will be visited as well as less frequented places like Wagner’s Villa in Hütteldorf on the edge of the Vienna Woods.


In the 17th century Vienna was one of Europe’s most formidable fortresses and held out against the Ottoman Turks in 1683. In the decades that followed it became an imperial city that celebrated the aspirations of the Austrian Habsburgs after the loss of the Spanish lands. In the middle of the 19th century this heavily fortified city, with its suburbs and growing ring of palaces and gardens was turned into a modern city by the demolition of the city walls. This ‘opening up’ of Vienna not only created the famous ensemble of public buildings along the ‘Ringstraße’ on the site of the former fortifications, it also led to unprecedented growth in the number of residents.


From all corners of the Habsburg Empire, in particular from nearby Bohemia and Moravia, people flocked to Vienna, from 1867 the capital of the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The city responded with unparalleled public projects like water works and public transport, which created a feverish atmosphere of competition and innovation that was soon to express itself in art, architecture, literature, music and science.


In 1897 the leading names of the Vienna Art Nouveau broke away from the Society of Vienna Artists (Künstlerhaus) to establish the ‘Secession’, modelled on the eponymous association in Munich. Not only did the Secession open Vienna to artistic trends from all over Europe, it also gave rise to the foundation of the Wiener Werkstätte, an association of architects, artists, designers and artisans, which created a new formal vocabulary in a variety of genres. From posters to monumental architecture, the signature of the Vienna Secession also became symbolic of a silver age of literature, music and science, not least psychoanalysis.


We will further witness that the development of Vienna did not end with Sarajevo 1914 – the relics of which we shall see at the Arsenal – or with the death of this first generation of modern artists and architects. More radical approaches, associated with names like Hoffmann and Loos, had begun well before the First World War and continued beyond it.


This will be particularly visible in the revolutionary housing project at the Werkbundsiedlung or in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s house in Vienna 3. More than that, it saw its continuation after 1918 in the monumental social housing projects of ‘Red Vienna’, of which we will explore some of the most significant examples at Schmelz and Karl-Marx-Hof.


We will stay at the four-star Hotel Johann Strauss, a comfortable and traditionally decorated hotel housed in a grand Art Nouveau building in Vienna.  

This tour will be led by Alex Koller, PhD. Alex is an expert in art history and architecture. Born in Vienna, Alex has lived and studied in Vienna, Salzburg and Cambridge, gaining his PhD in the history of art from Magdalene College, Cambridge. Alex is an accomplished linguist and has travelled extensively throughout Europe and the Far East.


Tour Director Alex Koller writes:


“It is always a particular pleasure for me to show tour participants around my home city. Local patriotism aside, Vienna has a great deal to offer, too much to grasp in a few days, but it is certainly extremely rewarding to concentrate on the city’s development and achievements at the turn of the 20th century. There is a mixture of known classics and a number of lesser-known surprises that will make for a very full picture.”

Tour Code

Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, five breakfasts, coffee & cake on arrival at the hotel on day 1, one light lunch, four dinners with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £295.

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