Photo Credit: UEG, Martin Hormandinger

The Austrian capital is one of the leading venues for medical congresses in Europe. And this is something that has a long tradition in the city: in fact, it was the Third International Medical Congress held during the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair under the pioneering physician Carl von Rokitansky that would set the tone for others to follow. But the World’s Fair was not only a landmark event in terms of medical congresses.

With Vienna at the epicentre, medical advances gathered pace throughout the nineteenth century to become the modern scientific discipline we know today. The driving force behind its development was the Second Viennese Medical School under Carl von Rokitansky (1804-1878). A trained pathologist, he was instrumental in establishing Vienna as one of the most visionary scientific locations of its day.

Objective Observation as the Measure of all Things

The Second Viennese Medical School explored the causes, symptoms and transmission routes of diseases, while at the same time developing new diagnostic and therapeutic methods. It was the groundbreaking insights of Carl von Rokitansky that founded pathological anatomy as an independent discipline and linked it with clinical medicine. With the objective observation of disease progression paramount, the focus had now shifted to the development of preventive and therapeutic approaches. The guiding principle was: “researching to heal.”

From Vaccination to Hygiene

One of the high points in the communication of this revolutionary new thinking was the Third International Medical Congress held in the course of the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair, which brought a worldwide audience of the brightest medical minds to the Austrian capital that September. Scientific evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the smallpox vaccine was among the topics under discussion during the congress, as were issues of public hygiene in urban centres. The goal was to identify effective preventive approaches that would put an end to epidemics such as cholera. The 1873 Vienna World’s Fair, whose 150th anniversary the capital is honouring in 2023, marked the city’s genesis as a venue for flagship medical congresses.

Photo Credit: Wien Museum

Patents, Commerce and Art

But beyond the world of medicine, the World’s Fair had a strong educational dimension to it, which would set the foundations for Vienna’s emergence as the leading congress destination of the industrial era. The International Patent Congress – still considered a milestone of international patent protection to this day – played out as part of the World’s Fair. Another epochal event, the Congress of German Economists, was also held in Vienna in 1873. And what would Vienna be without art: with the Erster kunstwissenschaftlicher Congress (also at the World’s Fair) helping to map out a path that formalized approaches to art conservation. Meetings of the flax, brewing, and fruit and wine growing industries in Vienna also set the tone in 1873. The effects of these early measures to position Vienna as a congress and meeting destination continue to make themselves felt today.

Photo Credit: Austria Center Vienna

Vienna in 2023: Meet the World

Even the briefest of glances at Vienna’s 2023 congress and meeting calendar speaks volumes: with the European Congress of Radiology (ECR), the Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS), the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) and the IAAPA Conference & EXPO Europe (Euro Attractions Show), the capital will stage four major international congresses in 2023, each of which is scheduled to attract upwards of 10,000 participants. Thanks to their outstanding infrastructure and professional services, the Austria Center Vienna and the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center are ideally placed as venues to host events of this scale.

More Major Congresses

Vienna will also be welcoming various other major congresses – each with over 3,000 participants – in the course of 2023, such as the St. Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference and the Annual Congress of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO). Other highlights for the year for Meeting Destination Vienna include the Annual Congress of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine and the Annual Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFFORT).

Source: Vienna Convention Bureau

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