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!
(*) In Wien, a highly civilized city, one would say that I'm a "Liebhaber" = amateur of history not a "buff".
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.)!
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.
Avoiding the erzatz-Mozarts that lay in wait for unwary tourists, as you cross the Michaelerplatz, you cannot help but be impressed by the great sweeping curve of the Michaeletrakt, the facade of the Hofburg, and the Michaelertor, with its massive copper dome and classical sculptures flanking either side of the entrance. Behind this facade (built in the late 1800s in the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) lies the vast complex of palaces and chapels, gardens and royal apartments and offices that was the seat of Hapsburg power more than 500 years. Add in the surrounding streets, once home to the aristocracy and clergy that revolved around the court, and you could spend days in this quarter of Vienna and still not see the half of it.
Passing under the gate, the Spanish Riding School is on your left, the ticket office and entrance to the State Apartments of Franz Joseph, last Emperor of Austria, and his beautiful Empress Elizabeth, and the Silberkammer - a treasure house of the plate and porcelain - is on your right. They're housed in the Amalienburg, a palace built in 1575.
This time I'm heading for the Schweizertor though, the entrance to the oldest part of the complex, the Schweitzer Hof (Swiss House), the mediaeval core of the Hofurg. Here, in the Burgkapelle (Royal Chapel), the angel voices of the Wiener Sangerknaben (Vienna Boys Choir) have been heard on high days and holy days for 500 years. Plan ahead and you too may be lucky enough to get a ticket for an exquisite Mozart or Haydn mass. After that, it's the Schatzkammer (Treasury) when 21 rooms contain the fabulous treasures of 1000 years of church and state, including the 1100 year-old crown of the Holy Roman Empire - to my mind the most amazing object in the whole museum, with its barbaric chunks of precious gems, huge pearls and Byzantine enamels set in an extraordinary crown of gold.
State Apartments, Silberkammer and Burgkapelle are open daily
Schatzkammer is closed on Tuesdays.
Many years ago I visited inside the Hofburg the "Kaiserappartements" and don't remember anything particular so that I presume that I felt less enthusiast than after visiting the Bruegels at the KHM.
I didn't visit the "Sisi Museum" because it only opened in 2004 and it is not my intention to visit it because I saw the films from Ernst Marischka (1955) with Romy Schneider and that was enough for me.
But I remember visiting the Imperial Treasury - Schatzkammer located in the oldest part of the palace the Schweizerhof. The Schatzkammer (not to confuse with the Hofsilber- und Tafelkammer / Silver collection) was set up in 1556 under Ferdinand I and widely extended by Empress Maria Theresa. It belongs now to the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
There are two sections. The secular part contains a collection of royal objects:
The Imperial Regalia: insignia and jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, including the Imperial Crown, the Holy Lance and the Imperial Sword and the Austrian Crown Jewels.
What interested me most was the Burgundian Treasury and the treasury of the Order of the Golden Fleece - Ordre de la Toison d'Or established in 1430, by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and part of the dowry of Marie de Bourgogne (born in Brussels) at her wedding with Archduke Maximilian I in 1477.
Among the gems I remember a very large emerald.
The second section is that of Ecclesiastical Treasury and contains relics, liturgical vessels and garments most from the Baroque period.
The "Hofjagd-und Rüstkammer" - Armour and Arms collection is located in the Neue Burg at the Heldenplatz which is a monumental wing of the Hofburg planned to house the new living quarters of the emperor as evidenced by the stairway and marble hall.
Actually this museum belongs to the KHM.
This is the most beautiful collection of suits of armour in Europe.
The collection of weapons ( Hofjagd-und Rüstkammer) of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is centred on ceremonial or parade weapons and offers a very wide panorama of the evolution of what was a real art for the 15th century in Europe and in the Middle East.
The emperor Maximilien I devoted gladly to the tournaments and incited the young noble persons to devote to the joust and especially the running which was practised with sharp lances, more dangerous than the joust, but much less expensive because she could be practised in the battle armour.
Things did not stay in the field of ordinary armour because the Habsburg (notably both brothers Maximilien II and Ferdinand II) by taste for art and splendour led the technique of armours to a real art close to the goldsmith's art. The connoisseur will find in this museum numerous chiselled armours, inlaid armours, the fluted armours, the costume armours, greek-roman style armours, and darkened armours from the Baroque period.
Considerable financial means were needed to pay such works of art. Ferdinand II of Tyrol excelled at this passion of the beautiful suits of armour. Not satisfied with his own armours he collected armours and weapons of 125 famous persons of his time. We can see the suit of armour of Philippe II of Spain.
These collections are well presented in a number of rooms where the visitor is often alone! This museum still has not the chance (or misfortune for the connoisseurs) to be on the visit program of the groups.
There is also on show a collection of hunting weapons.
Open: Tuesday - Sunday 10 - 18 h (Thursday 10 - 21 h).
Price (2011): 12 €, Vienna card 11 €, 27 yr & > 65 yr 9 €.
Free 19 yr.
The ticket is valid for the Neue Burg & KHM main building.
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 !!
This was the main palace complex of the Habsburgs for over six hundred years – with endless new additions as each new Emperor took office. Not hard to imagine that it grew substantially over that period!
Now that Austria is a Republic, the buildings have found other uses. Some, such as the Kaiserappartements, where Emperor Franz Josef 1 and Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) lived, are furnished as original and are open for public inspection. Another part houses the offices of the President of Austria. Then there are museums and galleries, not to mention the stables for the famous Spanish horses.
The main photo shows the façade of the building complex, as seen from Michaelerplatz. If it looks somewhat empty, that’s because the crowds were being kept back by a very substantial police presence during the visit of an “eminent overseas statesperson” . Eventually a convoy of black limousines appeared and the serious business of tourism resumed! Our time limit precluded poking around the various buildings in the Hofburg complex – but you could spend quite some time here if you wished!
Main photo: An unusually quiet Michaelerplatz, outside the Hofburg
Second photo:Departing dignitary’s convoy.
Third photo:The crowds return to Michaelerplatz (panorama).
Fourth photo:The Spanish horses in their stables.
Hofburg Imperial Palace is a palace in Vienna, Austria, which has housed some of the most powerful people in Austrian history, including the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It currently serves as the official residence of the President of Austria. It was the Habsburg's principal winter residence, while Schönbrunn Palace was their preferred summer residence. The Palace was the birthplace of Marie Antoinette in 1755.
The Hofburg area has been the documented seat of government since 1279 for various empires and republics. 
Seeing a performance of the famous white Lipizzaners of Vienna's Spanish Riding School is top of the list of "Things to do" for lots of visitors to the city. Easier said than done ... and the experience may not be quite as enthralling as you expect either. It's all very formal and precise.
There are a very limited number of performances through the year and whilst booking online makes it easier these days to find out details and book, tickets sell out well in advance. An alternative is to attend a morning practice session (cheaper too). These take place between 10 and 12, Tuesday to Saturday. Tickets are sometime available on the day.
I have to say, having been once to a practice session, I wouldn't be queuing up for a ticket to a performance. There's no denying the skill, the dedication and the tradition of the School, but I like my horses moving freely and this, to me, comes very close to circus performance and whilst I love the things humans can do under the Big Top, I don't like to see animals behaving unnaturally.
Guided tours of the stables are also available.
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 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.
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 imperial apartment tour includes about 15 rooms occupied by the Emperor and Empress, much original furnishings and decor, located in the Amalienburg named after the widow of Emperor Josef I although a considerably older building. Most items date from the late 19th C but the ceramic stoves are older and connected at their backs to narrow passageways between rooms for use of the servant staff. Bohemian lead crystal chandeliers are also older, holding candles till the castle got electricity just before 1900. Photographs were allowed only in the porcelain display rooms, unfortunately, but many featured rooms remain clear in memory while others have faded to a recollection of lots of red and lots of paintings.
After ascending the marble ornate Emperor's Staircase, the first stop are the waiting and audience rooms of Franz Josef. These large formal rooms were used for the biweekly general audiences granted by the emperor for any subject wishing to present a personal or political issue. Into his old age, the Emperor greeted up to 100 supplicants in a morning. Military murals line the waiting hall and paintings of earlier emperors are seen in the audience room itself. The original high desk at which Franz Josef stood and most of the furniture are original.
Franz Josef I was a pretty rigid kind of guy who enjoyed his hunting and his girlfriends but was otherwise a devoted public servant and lived a relatively austere lifestyle. He used his personal study from early morning till late evening with time out for audiences, meals, and the occasional formal event. His desk and walls are lined with family portraits including hs "Angel Sisi".
Franz Josef's bedroom is notable for the simple iron bed ( most closely resembling the type of bed seen in military enlisted barracks ) and other furnishings without ornamentation. He was bathed by a servant daily in a rubber bathtub in the bedroom. Sisi's adjacent living quarters are more ornate although hardly overly luxurious. Prominently displayed is her exercise equipment including rings over the doors and chinning bars attached to the walls. Ornate desks and a large bed complete the room. The attached bathroom has the original copper bathtub, linoleum floor, and bright flowered wall coverings.
Several small rooms and larger salons feature brilliant landscape murals of exotic locations, favored by the constantly travelling Elizabeth. The last part of the apartment section of the tour is the dining room, a large room where even the simplest of meals was dominated by the strict court protocol and lavish settings with large chandeliers and table centerpieces.
Like most European royalty, the Habsburgs were entranced with porcelain and collected many sets of exquisite dinnerware displayed in rooms adjacent the apartments. Many feature painted landscapes, Oriental design, or gold decoration. The most famous is a green and gold service of almost 300 pieces, a gift of French king Louis XV to Empress Maria Theresia, although there is no signage to draw special attention to it ( and we missed it despite having it on our to-see list ). The total collection of Silver ( see next tip ) and porcelain numbers about 150,000 pieces with about 7,000 on display.
The Hofburg was extended to a magnificent residence when the Habsburg's power increased. That's why one can find almost any architectural style, from gothic to art nouveau.
Hofburg is huge complex and it is home to National Library, Imperial Treasury, houses a collection of musical instruments, collections of weapons, Museum of Ethnography and famouse Spanis Riding school “ Spanische Hofreitschule” There are also houses of exotic butterflies if you have enough time to visit everything.
Vast "Heldenplatz" (sqare of heroes), situated next to Hofburg, is very impressive, too.
Get comfortable shoes and walk all around and enjoy!!!
The hofburg palace was intended to be the winter palace of the emperor. It was the imperial residence of the Habsburg emperors until 1918. Many new buildings were added into this palace complex over the centuries to demonstrate increased corresponding power of the rulers. Each separate building contains many treasures and one needs a lot of time moving from one building to another exploring each of them. The office of the Austrian President is located in the palace now. There are also many museums in th palace open to the public, like the Imperial Apartments museum (displaying the royal rooms), Sisi Museum (museum of Empress Elizabeth) and Imperial Silver Collection museum (displaying items of imperial dining).