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Congress Hall

Kongresssaal © BKA/Manuel Gutleb
The face end of the hall photo: BKA/Manuel Gutleb
One door to nowhere © BKA/imb
This beautiful door leads – nowhere photo: BKA/imb

The Congress Hall is probably the historically most significant room in the Federal Chancellery. It was here that the Congress of Vienna met in 1814 and 1815 (see Wiener Kongress). A number of myths have developed about this, such as the one about the "5 doors, for 5 rulers". According to legend, to satisfy the demands of protocol the 5 sovereigns of Austria, Russia, France, Prussia and Great Britain were required to enter the room simultaneously through the five doors to sign the conference proceedings.

However, 2 facts undermine this theory:

  • Firstly, no such meeting was ever held, for the final document was signed merely by plenipotentiaries and only subsequently ratified by the rulers. Where exactly they did sign is not known.
  • Also, two of the five doors are blind doors which conceal tiny closets.

And which emperor would want to wait for his grand entrance in a broom cupboard?

Ventilation grille in the ceiling © BPD/imb
Ventilation grilles in the ceiling have given rise to much speculation photo: BPD/imb

Another novel architectural feature has also given rise to much speculation over the years. The ceiling contains unobtrusive, decorated ventilation grilles. In an age when candles were used to provide light this was surely very helpful. However, according to rumour Metternich is supposed to have posted his secret agents in the attic above to eavesdrop on the consultations below. In reality, however, it was the secretaries who kept the minutes of the meetings who sat there quite officially.

The Congress Hall was severely damaged during World War II. Subsequently, however, the Hall was restored to its original imperial splendour.

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