In the 1860s, architect Otto Tineman designed the Eschenbach Palace on behalf of the Austrian Trade Association. The palace was inaugurated by Kaiser Franz Joseph I in 1872. Over the years, the palace has hosted numerous meetings, celebrations, balls and presentations. For example, in 1868, a prototype of an airplane designed by Wilhelm Kress was presented there.
In 1921, the Ukrainian Free University, the first Ukrainian higher education institution outside of Ukraine, was founded in the Eschenbach Palace. At that time, the university had 12 professors and 90 students who had emigrated during and after the First World War. The university was founded by UNR (Ukrainian National Republic) figures, including Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Dmytro Antonovych and Oleksadr Kolesa, who became the first rector. Six months after its founding, the school continued to operate in Prague until the outbreak of World War II. At that time, the university’s activities were suspended due to the Soviet Union’s increased control over Czechoslovakia. The university was re-established in Munich in 1945, where it remains nowadays the world’s only private university outside of Ukraine with Ukrainian as the main teaching language.
Eschenbach Palace also hosted two balls organized by Ukrainians.
The first was the Ukrainian Ball in 1997 under the patronage of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Austria Mykola Makarevych, organized by the fellowship at St. Barbara’s Church.
You can read more about the Church of St. Barbara, about its history and its participation in the development of the Ukrainian diaspora in Vienna in the section “Buildings” in the online archive Interactive Ukrainian Vienna -> St. Barbara’s Church in Vienna – Ukrainian House in Vienna.
The second ball, held at the Eschenbach Palace, was the Ukrainian Ball, organized by the TUMA (Ukrainian Youth Association in Austria) twenty years later in 2017. TUMA decided to hold this ball in order to resume the tradition of holding Ukrainian balls in Vienna. The first one was held in 2015 at the Volkskundemuseum in Vienna (Laudongasse 15-19, 1080, Vienna). The event was attended by about 350 people and despite the official classical program, the second part included festivities accompanied by the famous band from Kyiv “Карпатські барви” (engl. “Carpathian Colors”).
In 2017, the Eschenbach Palace hosted the first ball according to all of the traditions of classic Austrian balls, with an hour-long dance and music program, debutantes, music from a ballroom orchestra and a disco. Since then, the Ukrainian Charity Ball in Vienna has become an annual event and is held under the motto: Help by dancing. Everyone who purchased an entrance ticket could enjoy the evening and help orphanages in Ukraine, as all donations from the charity raffle go to two different orphanages in Ukraine, supporting the educational purposes of the institutions.
Photos from the Ukrainian Ball 2017 can be viewed on TUMA’s Facebook page. You can also dive into the magical atmosphere of UAball2017 by watching the video on the official YouTube channel tumaaustria.
As of 2020, the 5th Ukrainian Ball in Vienna took place in the heart of the Austrian capital, Palais Ferstel (Strauchgasse 4, 1010, Vienna) and Café Central (corner Herrengasse and Strauchgasse, 1010, Vienna) opened their doors to guest of the unforgettable Ukrainian event. In 2018 and 2019, the Ukrainian Ball was held at the Palais Auersperg (Auerspergstraße 1, 1080, Vienna).
You can read more about history of the Ukrainian Ball, its organization, highlights and how the Ukrainian Ball in Vienna became a distinctive event in the Austrian ball calendar and the most prominent Ukrainian winter event in Austria in the “Events” section of the online archive Interactive Ukrainian Vienna “Help by Dancing: Ukrainian Ball in Vienna”.