Consider the Burgtheater or simply “The Burg” as essentially Austria’s national theatre. And the main building forms one of the many historical landmarks that grace the Ring boulevard that curls its way around Vienna’s centre.
- The pinnacle of Austrian theatre, but all plays are in German
- English tours of the 19th-century building available
- Klimt worked on the interior decor as a young man
- See also: Burgtheater history | Sightseeing
The national theatre
This version of the Burgtheater opened in 1888, but the institution has a long history involving emperors, wars, and fan fiction rewrites of Shakespeare plays.
Although a purely German-speaking institution, even English-speaking audiences might recognise some of the Burgtheater’s more famous company members.
Klaus Maria-Brandauer, for example, gained an Oscar nomination for his role in Out of Africa opposite Meryl Streep in 1985. And Oskar Werner starred opposite Julie Christie in Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 in 1966.
Walk around the outside to find numerous tributes to famous playwrights and poets. Including Shakespeare – honored with a bust and the to be or not to be scene from Hamlet.
Inside, one of the opulent staircases has another Shakespeare tribute: a fresco of a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre, London.
The three artists responsible for this (and the other ceiling frescoes) cheekily painted themselves into the Globe’s audience. And one of those young artists was none other than Gustav Klimt, who went on to achieve worldwide fame for such paintings as The Kiss.
Tickets and tours
If you just want to take a look inside the Burgtheater and view the Klimt frescoes, then go on a guided tour.
In summer (July and August), the tour schedule includes daily English-language versions. English tours are also held the rest of the year on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays.
If you want to view a play, do remember that all performances are in the German language. For the record, tickets go on sale as of the 20th of each month for the following month, though there are no performances in July and August.
The Burgtheater, despite its origins as the official national and imperial theater of the Habsburg Empire, has an egalitarian tradition that continues today. If you’re prepared to stand, you can see a performance for around €4.
During those times of the year when tickets are sold, the ticket offices in the theater itself open every weekday from 8am to 6pm, and from 9am to midday at weekends and on public holidays.
An evening ticket office also sells tickets from an hour before a performance takes place.
How to get to the Burgtheater
Subway: the Burgtheater is just a short walk from three subway stations: Rathaus on the U2 line, Schottentor (also on the U2), and Herrengasse on the U3 line.
Tram/bus: three tram lines serve a tram stop right outside the front door: 1, 71 and D. Get off at Rathausplatz/Burgtheater (the clue is in the name).
Address: Dr. Karl-Lueger-Ring 2, 1010 Vienna | Website