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On 11 May 1873, Kaiser Franz Joseph opened the Vienna World Exposition in the presence of members of the Royal Family, aristocratic guests and numerous members of the government - though without any representative of the Church. The "Major Prater Procession" began at 11 o'clock with government representatives in national costumes. The arrival of their majesties was celebrated at 12 o'clock by the sounding of the national anthem and Baron Schwarz-Senborn guided the guests of honour into the festively decorated Rotunda where the opening ceremony was held in the absence of the general public. The ceremony began by Archduke Karl Ludwig welcoming the Kaiser with a speech and the hand-over of the general catalogue with a memorandum of the World Exposition. The opening speeches by Prime Minister Adolf Fürst von Auersperg and Mayor Felder celebrating the exposition as a "festival of peace uniting all peoples" and as a "contribution to the well-being of the whole of mankind", were preceded by the following speech by his Royal Majesty the Kaiser to officially open the Exposition:

"With great satisfaction I see before me the completion of a major operation whose importance and significance I honour to the fullest extent. This ambitious project was accompanied by my faith in the patriotism and skills of my people, and the understanding and support of friendly nations. My imperial best wishes and my grateful appreciation are dedicated to its successful conclusion. I hereby declare the 1873 World Exposition open." The choirs conducted by the Court Opera Music Director then sang the Festival anthem composed by Georg Friedrich Händel with its own specially commissioned World Exposition text:

Glocken klingt und Fahnen weht,
Heut zu festlichem Empfang
Und das Werk, das fertig steht,
Grüße weihender Gesang.

Weite Hallen sind bereit
Rings umher grünt Baum an Baum,
Eine Welt voll Thätigkeit
Regt sich stolz in diesem Raum.

Was der Geist ersinnt und schafft,
Was gebildet Kunst und Fleiß,
Mächtig Bild vereinter Kraft,
Ringend nach dem höchsten Preis.

Auf, ihr Völker, kehret her
Zu der großen Geisterschlacht,
Euer Fortschritt, Eure Wehr
Und die Bildung, Eure Macht!

Arbeit ist der Staaten Grund,
Gleiches Streben macht auch gleich,
Einen Völkerfriedensbund
Feiert heute Österreich!

Following the official opening ceremony, the first tour of the World Exposition by guests of honour began at around 12:30. Although numerous exhibits were still unready at the time of the opening ceremony, the luxurious presentation of international arts and crafts in the Industrial Palace in particular was greeted with tremendous admiration. Other highlights included the colourful and exotic presentations by the colonial powers and the pompous papier-mâché installations in the oriental section. A special attraction was the exhibit featuring progress in the educational field where visitors were introduced by way of models to kindergartens, schools and a selection of modern teaching tools.

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The Vienna World Exposition 1873
"Completion of a major operation": The opening ceremony
Year: 1873City: ViennaCountry: Austria
Duration: 1st may - 31st october 1873



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