Spanish Riding School

During a visit to Vienna, there is no way to miss the Hofburg. It was once the residence of the Habsburgs and hence the political and cultural center of the monarchy, and even today it is the proud official residence of the Austrian Federal President.

On the huge area of the Hofburg 5000 people are employed and it is the largest non-religious building complex in Europe. In it, in addition to the representative rooms of the Austrian head of state, is located, among other things, the National Library, the Federal Monuments Office, and in the Michaeltrak the world-famous Spanish Riding School with its Lipizzaner stallions. The Stallburg, which houses 72 of the famous white stallions, is Vienna's oldest and most important Renaissance building, built in 1565 with its magnificent riding hall. The order of Emperor Charles VI was unmistakable: to build the "most beautiful riding hall in the world".

Although the name would suggest otherwise, the Spanish Riding School has been a purely Viennese institution for more than 450 years and has also been included in the UNESO list of cultural heritage of mankind.  Since its foundation in the 17th century, the "high school" of classical horsemanship has been maintained and instructed unchanged. It is taught traditionally, only verbally and the centuries-old knowledge is passed on from the head rider to the Elven, the young riding students. Until the 20th century, the curriculum of the "Hofreitschule", as it was also called at that time, included riding maneuvers for the war as well as artistic riding for the imperial offspring and nobility.

The impulse for the breeding and later construction of the school was already given by Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, who was called to Vienna after his childhood in Spain, bringing his beloved Spanish horses with him. The Spanish breed was considered particularly noble, fiery and docile and to this day all Lipizzaners, are descendants of this first imperial herd, crossed with Arabian horses.

The world-famous performances of the Lipizzaners - the "Ballet of the White Stallions" - take place in the magnificent baroque riding hall of the Winter Riding School. A huge portrait of Charles VI commemorates its builder. The performances show the results of many years of training and intensive work of the riders and their Lipizzaner horses. The young stallions impress the audience as well as the fully trained stallions charm the audience. The show includes the 'schools on and above the ground', where the 'above' refers to jumps; the Pas de Deux, a ballet with 2 horses; exercises on the long reins; and as the grand finale, the school quadrille, a ballet with eight stallions.

The performance of the High Art of Dressage is underlined with classical music - an atmosphere simply to enjoy.

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