Spanish Riding School

Spanish Riding School Vienna
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The Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule) is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses, which perform in the Winter Riding School in the Hofburg Imperial Palace.

One of Vienna’s top attractions, the Spanish Riding School offers public performances as well as permitting public viewing of some training sessions. The presentation builds on four centuries (since 1572) of experience and tradition in classical dressage.

Winter Riding School

The Spanish Riding School is located between Michaelerplatz and Josefsplatz inside the Hofburg. Performances take place in the Winter Riding School (Winterreitschule), built between 1729–1735. The Winter Riding School is a sunlight-flooded hall, mainly white with some beige and light grey, with a portrait of Emperor Charles VI above the royal box and opposite the entrance (to which the riders always salute before they ride), which measures 55 by 18 metres (180 by 59 ft) and is 17 metres (56 ft) in height.

Performances at the Spanish Riding School were originally only presented to guests of the Court, and then when they were finally opened to the general population at the turn of the century, it was only for special occasions. However, after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the school opened up regular performances to the general public to help pay for its upkeep.

The riding school was first named during the Habsburg Monarchy in 1572, long before the French manege of Antoine de Pluvinel, and is the oldest of its kind in the world. Records show that a wooden riding arena was first commissioned in 1565, but it wasn’t until 1729 that Emperor Charles VI commissioned the architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach to build the white riding hall used today. Prior to that time, the School operated from a wooden arena at the Josefsplatz. For a time, the riding hall was used for various ceremonies, but it is now open to the public, who may witness the training and performances by the stallions.

The Spanish Riding School was named for the Spanish horses that formed one of the bases of the Lipizzan breed, which is used exclusively at the school. Today the horses delivered to the Spanish Riding School are bred at the Piber Federal Stud located near the village of Piber in western Styria, Austria. One of the original studs used to develop the breed was Lipizza, now called Lipica, near Trieste in modern Slovenia, which gave its name to the breed.

The Spanish Riding School has antecedents in military traditions dating as far back as Xenophon in Ancient Greece, and particularly from the military horsemanship of the post-medieval ages when knights attempted to retain their battlefield preeminence by shedding heavy armor and learning to maneuver quickly and with great complexity on a firearms-dominated battlefield.

Traditionally, Lipizzaners at the school have been trained and ridden wholly by men, although the Spanish Riding School states that there has never been an official ban on women. In October 2008, two women, Sojourner Morrell, 18-year-old from the United Kingdom and Hannah Zeitlhofer, 21-year-old from Austria, passed the entrance exam and were accepted to train as riders at the school – the first women to do so in 436 years.

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Since December 2015, the horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School has been classified as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO
Info & photo from Wikipedia

Website: Spanish Riding School Vienna

UBahn: U3 (Herrengasse)

Tram: 1, 2, 71, D (Burgring)

Bus: 1A, 2A (Michaelerplatz, Habsburgergasse)

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