Friedrich Simony

1851 - 1965: Founding phase and 80 years of the "Geographical Institute" with a classic, two-part chair structure

The Institute for Geography and Regional Research at the University of Vienna is the oldest geographical institute in Austria and the third oldest (after Berlin and Göttingen) in Central Europe. The first chair of geography was established in 1851 at the suggestion of its later owner, Friedrich Simony. After Simony's retirement, the Geographic Institute was founded in 1885, with two chairs, one for "Physical Geography" and one for "Cultural" or "Historical Geography".

1965 – 1980: Expansion phase

In the mid-1960s, the expansion of Austrian universities and the increasing number of students, together with the high reputation that geography had, led to a strong expansion of the institute. Other professorships were created in quick succession to cover the research and teaching areas "Regional Geography", "Cartography" and "Spatial Research and Spatial Planning". At the end of the 1970s "geoecology" followed. At that time, the institute had grown to five full professorships, one extraordinary professorship and about 20 other academic staff.

Developments since 1980

In 1999 the now broadly based institute was renamed "Institute for Geography and Regional Research". The structural division of the expansion phase is adapting to the changing research landscape until today. New installation and expansion of laboratories and other institute facilities in the sense of a modern infrastructure together with the growing number of employees led to numerous spatial expansions of the institute. With around 65 employees and 1,700 students (as of 2011), the Institute for Geography and Regional Research is the largest geography institute in Austria.