The face end of the hall (© BPD/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 Vienna Congress). A number of myths have developed about this, such as the one about the "five doors, for five rulers". According to legend, to satisfy the demands of protocol the five 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, two 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?
This beautiful door leads – nowhere (© 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.
Nor is the Congress Hall used for secret discussions today. On the contrary: This is where the weekly press briefings are held that take place after cabinet meetings. These can be followed via radio, television or online (using the ) by all those wishing to do so.
The Congress Hall was severely damaged during World War II (see World War Two). Subsequently, however, the Hall was restored to its original imperial splendour.
Ventilation grilles in the ceiling have given rise to much speculation. (© BPD/imb)
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