The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is the only institution in the world which has practiced for more than 450 years and continues to cultivate classical equitation in the Renaissance tradition of the Haute Ecole – which can also be found on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
The School takes the “Spanish” part of its name from the horses which originated from the Iberian Peninsula during the 16th century and which were considered especially noble, spirited and willing and suited for the art of classical horsemanship. Today’s Lipizzaner stallions are the descendants of this proud Spanish breed, a cross between Spanish, Arabian and Berber horses.
In 1729 Emperor Charles VI commissioned the architect Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach to build the magnificent Winter Riding School in the Hofburg Palace; it was completed in 1735. A portrait of the monarch graces the splendid baroque hall in which the riders of the Spanish Riding School train their Lipizzaner stallions and show off their skills to an international audience during the public performances.