• Post author:
  • Post published:April 21, 2019

The Justice Palace Vienna:
Stone and Scales


© By Sheila 

Here comes my next Insider Tip for you: The Justice Palace in Vienna. Read more about one of the most beautiful places in Vienna, which is still undiscovered by tourists. The entry is free. The history of the building exciting. And the view from the café on the roof a dream.

Justitia – the goddess of justice. Strict and sublime, sitting enthroned, her statue overlooks the stone hall of the Palace of Justice in Vienna. The colors of the stones- black, white and red- reflect the ones of a legal system. Our steps echo in front of her.

The beautiful free stairway of the Justice Palace in Vienna.
Walking up the beautiful free stairway of the Justice Palace in Vienna.

I belong to the kind of people who like to rebel against injustices. I never was a quiet one, thank god. Probably that’s the reason, why I daily praise the fact to be born in a highly developed democracy. Even if it is not perfect, I am often grateful when I come home from a holiday and know that justice in Austria works. So why not pay a visit to the Palace of Justice in my beautiful hometown? It was about time.

The aula, core of the Justice Palace in Vienna
Aula & core of the Justice Palace in Vienna

At this point, I have to confess a little education gap. Although I have often admired the huge, almost monumental building on Schmerlingplatz 10, I always perceived the Justice Palace in it only peripherally. Or rather, not at all until last year. I know – the building covers the entire block and the imposing entrance is hard to ignore. All the better, that I was able to explore its venerable halls last week. 

This place is magnificent and quiet undiscovered by tourists!

The Justice Palace was completed in the last quarter of the 19thcentury and is built in the style of neo-renaissance. Today, the Supreme Court, the General Procuratorate, the Higher Regional Court of Vienna, the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Regional Court for Civil Law Matters in Vienna are located inside. The core of the palace is the aula: Above the open staircase, the magnificent statue of Justitia sits enthroned, equipped with a golden sword and code of law, flanked by two lions. On the opposite side we can regard a monumental clock, accompanied by two sirens.

Blood was also shed here, in the dark year of 1927, which paved the way for the Civil War in 1934. In July 1927, the conflicts between Social Democrats and Conservatives, Republican Schutzbund and Heimwehren escalated after the so-called “judgment of Schattendorf”. (Note: The judgment of Schattendorf = The scandalous acquittal of Nazi “front fighters”, who had previously shot a six-year-old child and a war invalid in a dispute with members of the “Republican Schutzbund”).

The coats of arms of the Austrian crown lands
The coats of arms of the Austrian crown lands, attached to the wall surfaces of the first floor.

After this acquittal, the rage of the workers on the street escaped, causing serious riots. During the violent protests, 89 demonstrators and five police officers lost their lives and hundreds of people were injured, after the police opened fire. The Palace of Justice quickly became, as a symbol of class justice, the focus of attention for the demonstrators. Subsequently, a formative event of Austrian history took place: The fire of the Justice Palace.
The young Elias Canetti was then part of the storming crowd. He would write later:

“You felt the fire, its presence was overwhelming, even where you did not see it, you had it in your head, its attraction and that of the crowd were one.”
-Elias Canetti, The Torch in My Ear

In today’s peace, nothing is left of smoke and violence. The sun shines through the high windows, brightness fills the premises. Cool stone and clear forms maintain a system that we must never, never ever take for granted: Our democracy.

I hope you enjoyed this post, stay in touch!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on linkedin

Leave a Reply