Hofburg Palace houses several museums, but this is the one that focuses on the life and history of the Imperial family. Although most of the palace's former living quarters have been converted into offices, the private appartements of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth (Sisi) have remained untouched for the most part and are open to the public. If you've been to Schönbrunn or plan on going there, you'll find that some of the information provided is somewhat similar, but it doesn't necessarily make the visit less interesting. Of course, all the rooms are absolutely gorgeous, beautifully decorated and lavishly furnished. It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to come up with an idea of what court life was like for the Habsburgs!
Next, visitors can take a look at the Imperial family's impressive collection of treasuries, which are on display in several rooms (pictures aren't allowed in the palace but I managed to snatch a couple, don't tell anyone!). Visitors can take a look at thousands of priceless items, which only constitute a small portion of what the Habsburgs actually owned.
Finally, the visit includes access to the Sissi Museum, which for several people might be the most interesting part of the tour. For over a century now, the life of Empress Elizabeth of Austria has captured the imagination of people around the world. Of course, the movie adaptions of her life starring Romy Schneider have greatly contributed to turning Empress Ssisi into an historical icon. The museum focuses on the life of the Empress, from her early childhood to her unhappy marriage, possible eating disorders, depression following the suicide of her only son, and the circumstances surrounding her assassination. I thought the museum did a great job of making the difference clear between the real Sissi and the mythical one.
Hofburg Palace actually is a large complex made up of several buildings that together formed the official residence of the Habsburgs in Vienna. It is usually called the winter palace, since members of the Imperial family spent most summers at their Schönbrunn residence. The palace in its original form dates back to the 13th century, but it was enlarged on several occasions throughout the years, with the last major construction, Neue Burg, being completed at the beginning of the 20th century. The palace is home to several museums and historic buildings that are now open to the public, including a chapel, the Spanish Riding School, the National Library, the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Art History. It is definitely worth setting a few hours aside to walk around the palace grounds - I especially enjoyed wandering through the lovely Burggarten - and take in the beauty of this Viennese masterpiece. Make sure to keep your camera handy!
Hofburg Palace, or Schloss Hofburg is an Imperial palace located in central Vienna. One of Vienna's most beautiful places when it comes to architecture. It has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including the wellknown Habsburg.
Today serves as the official residence of the President of Austria. It was the Habsburgs' principal winter residence (winter palace), as the Schönbrunn Palace was their preferred summer residence.
The Hofburg area has been the documented seat of government since 1279 for various empires and republics.
The Hofburg has been expanded over the centuries to include: various residences (with the Amalienburg), the chapel (Hofkapelle or Burgkapelle), museums (the Naturhistorisches Museum & Kunsthistorisches Museum), the Imperial Library (Hofbibliothek now the Prunksaal), the treasury (Schatzkammer), the national theatre (Burgtheater), the riding school (Hofreitschule), the horse stables (the Stallburg and Hofstallungen) and the Hofburg Congress Center.
The Hofburg faces the Heldenplatz ordered under the reign of Emperor Francis Joseph, as part of what was to become a Kaiserforum that was never completed.
Numerous architects have executed work at the Hofburg as it expanded, notably the Italian architect-engineer Filiberto Luchese (the Leopoldischiner Trakt), Lodovico Burnacini and Martino and Domenico Carlone, the Baroque architects Lukas von Hildebrandt and Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach (the Reichschancelry Wing and the Winter Riding School), Johann Fischer von Erlach (the library), and the architects of the grandiose Neue Burg built between 1881 and 1913.
When arriving from the centre of the city by the Kohlmarkt one discovers the green 50 m high dome on a curving façade at the St.Michaelerplatz facing the church.
It's my favored part of the Hofburg. The design by Fischer von Erlach dates from 1725 but the construction is from 1890.
In 2012 there were renovation works on the right wing; my photos from 2010 avoid them.
Under the cupola on the right side is the entrance to the Imperial apartments, Sisi museum and Silver collection. Actually this was not the entrance for Emperor Franz Joseph and Elisabeth who used the more impressive Kaisertor - Emperor's Gate to reach their apartments.
There is a street under the cupola and it is pleasant to hear the sound of the hoofs from the fiacre horses passing like at the time of the Emperor.
After the Michaeler cupola one reaches on the right side the "Inneren Burghof" with the Imperial Chancellery Wing/ Reichskanzleitrak and Amalienburg.
My favored part of the Hofburg Palace complex is the enclosed courtyard called "In der Burg" reached after passing under the Michaeler cupola.
On the west side stands the Amalienburg which is my preferred building because of its nice late Renaissance style. Once (16th c.) it was a free-standing building opposite the older Schweizertrakt (Swiss courtyard). It has a small tower with a dome and an astronomical clock on the façade. Inside are the apartments of Sissi.
In the 17th c. Emperor Leopold I connected the Swiss Wing to the Amalia Residence by a Baroque wing on the south side named the "Leopoldinischer Trakt" Leopold Wing. It was occupied by Empress Maria Theresa during the 18th century. It is now part of the official presidential residences and closed to the public.
The lower section of this wing as well as that of the Amalienburg served as the enormous wine cellar for the Hofburg. In these "Kaiserlicher Weinkeller" were stored 2 million liter of wine! I searched on the web (also in German) what happened to these 2.6 million bottles of wine and found nothing. If somebody knows please tell me because a "history buff"(*) as VT calls me can't get to sleep without knowing who laid hands on these 2 million liters of wine probably among the best vintages!
The building on the north side of the square used to contain the Reichskanzleitrakt (Chancellery Wing). It now houses the Kaiserappartments of Franz-Josef and the Sissi Museum. On the ground floor, with terrace, is a café (inside is a smoking and a non-smoking room).
Even if these buildings were designed at different periods in different styles they exude a harmony that makes the charm of this courtyard. No extravagancies here, just good architectural taste.
The monument in the centre is the bronze statue from 1846 of Emperor Franz II./I (* to understand the II and I, have a look on the web). He is represented as a Roman Caesar emperor even if he suffered several defeats by Napoleon (Austerlitz a.o.)!
(*) In Wien, a highly civilized city, one would say that I'm a "Liebhaber" = amateur of history not a "buff".
The Silberkammer is the collection of royal porcelain, table-decorations and cuttlery in the Hofburg. Just imagine a banquet with hundreds of participants, so they needed quite a large storage-room for that as well and that is the museum nowadays.
In my main photo: The "Mailänder Tafelaufsatz" a table-centrepiece made of gilt brass made by Manfredini in Milano in 1838 and it shows allegories of Venice and Lombardy.
In my 3rd photo :The so-called "Habsburg Service" made in Vienna in 1821
In my 4th photo : the setting of the table for a diplomatic dinner. This kind of folding of the napkin was made only for crowned guests.
my last photo: Goldähren Terrine of 1777, a tureen with golden ears, 4 such tureens were given as a present by King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette to Emperor Joseph II at his visit in Paris in 1777.
The Kaiserapartments inside the Hofburg are another museum, showing the royal chambers of Kaiser Franz Joseph, his wife, Kaiserin Sisi and the russian Tsar Alexander I, who was living there in 1815 during the "Wiener Kongress". The entrance to the Kaiserapartments is under the golden dome of Michaelator and you may also see there the gym and the bath-tub of Sisi and a long table, set up with precious plates and cutleries for a royal dinner.
The Kaiserapartements in Hofburg are
open daily except tuesday 09.00a.m. - 04.30p.m.
guided tours are available saturday & sunday
The Museum of old instruments is one of the collections inside Neue Burg and there you may see the pianos, where Mozart, Beethoven, Joseph Hayden and Franz Schubert used to perform their works. Even more famous is their collection of renaissance-instruments - it is considdered the most precious collection of these instruments. Another highlight in their collection is a Klavichord, dating back to 1596 - it is able to imitate various instruments and even the singing of birds.
Another highlight of the museum is a small-scale model of the city of Vienna. It dates back to the year 1845, and shows still the medieval townwalls around the city - that wall was taken down later-on in order to build Ringstrasse, as you will see it nowadays !
The Museum of old instruments is open
daily except tuesday 10.00a.m. - 06.00p.m.
The Ephesusmuseum is next to the Ruestkammer and when I remember it correctely, you may enter it by the same ticket. Ephesus - in the south-west of Turkey - is one of the most interesting antique towns, it was mentioned already in the Holy Bible and you may walk there still on the antique pavement, see the facade of the famous Celsus-library and many houses and temples that were restored by Austrian archeologists since the 19th century. These scientists have taken several works of art to Vienna, the most important of them is a giant sculptured stone-frieze showing the victory of Lucius Verus against the Parter in 165 A.D.
The Ephesosmuseum is open
daily except tuesday 10.00a.m. - 06.00p.m.
Schatzkammer is the treasury of the Hofburg and it shows various crowns of the Austrian empire, precious gold- and silverplates and cutleries, and even a 33-meters long centre-piece made of gold-bronze, it was ment as a table-decoration for banquets at the royal court. The oldest crown in Schatzkammer dates back to the 10th century and so it is no wonder, there is a real tresor-door at the entrance to this museum and a lot of people watching each of your steps through the collections !
Photography is not forbidden, but unfortunately it is quite dark in that museum !
Photography only without flash or tripod !!
the Schatzkammer is open daily except tuesday 10.00a.m.-06.00p.m.
at dezember 31st it is only open untill 01.00p.m.
Schatzkammer is closed January 1st + May 1st + November 1st !!
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