Hofburg Palace Complex, Vienna

4.5 out of 5 stars 262 Reviews

Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Wien +43 1 5337570

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    Hofburg - Home of the Habsburg Imperial Family

    by Chinggis_n_Borte Written Jan 30, 2015

    Vienna, or Wien as it is called in German language, is a really wonderful, beautiful and culturally rich city which was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the seat of power for the Imperial Family, the Habsburg Family.

    The Imperial Family had their winter home at Hofburg Palace, and their summer home at another impressive and beautiful palace, Schönbrunn Palace.

    The Hofburg was built in the thirteenth century, and was originally a castle. Over the centuries, it was expanded and improved.

    From 1438 to 1583 and from 1612 to 1806, it was the seat of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

    From 1806 to 1918, the Hofburg Palace was the seat of the Emperor of Austria.

    The Austro-Hungarian Empire's Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1918, and that assassination is said to have sparked, or been a major spark for the outbreak of World War One.

    Hofburg Palace is now the workplace of the Federal President of Austria. I would not mind a workplace like that!

    People can visit the Imperial Rooms there, and in addition, many other institutions also have their home at Hofburg, and these include: Albertina, Church of the Augustinian Friars, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Museum of Ethnology, Museums Quartier Wien, Museum of Natural History Vienna, Austrian National Library, Austrian Film Museum, Spanish Riding School Vienna, The Wiener Hofmusikkapelle.

    To get to the Hofburg Palace, there are these public transport options:-
    U1, U3: Stephansplatz
    U3: Herrengasse
    U2, U3: Volkstheater
    Bus 48A: Dr.-Karl-Renner-Ring
    Tram D, 1, 2, Bus 57A: Burgring

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    Schatzkammer - Treasury.

    by breughel Updated Jan 29, 2015

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    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.

    Schatzkammer - Ordre de la Toison d Schatzkammer - entry by Schweizertor Entry to Kaiserappartements and Sisi museum.
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    IN DER BURG.

    by breughel Updated Jan 29, 2015

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    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.)!

    Reichskanzleitrakt (Chancellery Wing). Amalienburg - Hofburg.
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    Hofburg Palace

    by toonsarah Written Jul 5, 2014

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    The first thing to admit is that I have never been inside the Hofburg Palace, although I have admired its exterior on several occasions and I never tire of photographing its many details and flourishes.

    The Hofburg was the residence of the Habsburg dynasty for over 600 years. It was from here that they reigned from the 13th century onwards – at first as rulers of Austria alone, but from 1452 as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, and then from 1806 until the end of the monarchy in 1918 as emperors of Austria again. Thus it has been home at times to some of the most powerful people in Europe. Today it is the official residence of the country’s president. Although it presents quite a uniform, symmetrical face, it is unsurprising that the building has been much developed, added to, reconstructed and generally fiddled with over the centuries, starting with a square medieval castle, parts of which still sit at its core, and ending with the so-called Neue Burg (New Castle). This was to have been part of a much larger building project, the Imperial Forum, which was intended to include also two museums (the Kunsthistorisches [art history] and Naturhistorisches [natural history] Museums) which would be linked by the forum to the Palace. The museums were built, and the Neue Burg, but a combination of a lack of funding, and uncertainty as to the purpose of the new building that was to have connected them, led to it being abandoned. Not a bad thing – the space it was to have occupied is now Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square), a lovely green square surrounded by some of the elegant buildings of the palace and graced with statues of Archduke Charles of Austria and Prince Eugene of Saxony. A number of significant historical events took place here, but as the most notable of these was Hitler's ceremonial announcement of the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany on 15 March 1938 we might prefer not to dwell on this.

    Instead let’s focus on my own favourite part, from what I have seen of the exterior at least – the late 19th century Michaelertrakt (the St Michael Wing, named after the church it faces). Its graceful curve is broken by a grand archway, either side of which a series of sculptural groups tell the story of the labours of Hercules (the work of Italian sculptor Lorenzo Mattielli). The structure is surmounted by a striking central green dome 50 metres high, two smaller ones ornament the ends, there are eagles, trumpeting angels, statuesque figures and coats of arms – and the whole is fabulously Viennese!

    On a future trip to Vienna I hope to find the time to go inside to see the Imperial Apartments once occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth, and the Sisi Museum devoted to the personal effects of the Empress Elizabeth such as parasols, gloves, travelling medical chest, games case, a wash set, jewellery and replica costumes. There is also an impressive-sounding silver collection.

    The sprawling complex also houses the Austrian National Library, the famous Riding School (in the former Imperial Stables) and a number of other museums including collections of arms and armour and of musical instruments.

    Most of my photos are of my favourite Michaelertrakt but photo five shows one of the trumpeting angels atop the 18th century Imperial Chancellery Wing (Reichskanzleitrakt) which sits behind it, facing the Inner Courtyard.

    Next tip: more about Viennese architecture

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    HOFBURG PALACE - "STALLBURG"

    by balhannah Updated May 18, 2014

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    The Stallburg is the Imperial Stables that were built in 1735 at Hofburg palace. This is where the beautiful Lipizzaner horses are stabled and is the home of the famous Spanish Riding School.
    The Spanish Riding School has been teaching horsemanship for 430 years or more, making it the oldest riding academy in the world.
    These stunning horses were brought from the Iberian Peninsula during the 16th century, the ones today are the descendants of this Spanish breed, a cross between Spanish, Arabian and Berber horses.

    I didn't go to a show here, as I have seen these Lipizzaner stallions perform elsewhere. They are really majestic, intelligent horses, in the hands of very skilful riders!

    I was able to view the stables and the horses through a window - Luxury living for horses!

    Please check the website for prices and times of shows

    Lipzanner stallions Lipzanner stallion The stables The stables
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    HOFBURG PALACE - REDOUTEN WING

    by balhannah Written May 18, 2014

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    The Redouten Wing was built as an opera house in 1705 under Emperor Joseph I. The word "redoute" is French, meaning an elegant masked ball, and such balls were held there.
    It was here, grand baroque operas were performed, masquerade balls, concerts, wedding banquets and the premiere of Beethoven's 8th Symphony took place there in 1814. Johann Strauss was musical director to the court for the balls.
    After a fire in 1992 the rooms were renovated, some were restored true to the original and others were furnished modern.
    The exterior is decorated with angry Lions heads overlooking reliefs of small children playing. On the roof is the crown and shield of Austria.

    Redouten Wing
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    HOFBURG PALACE "POWERS OF THE SEA" FOUNTAIN

    by balhannah Written May 18, 2014

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    This interesting fountain is located on the corner of the left side of the Michaelertor.

    It was sculpted by Rudolf Weyr in 1895 and symbolizes the Austrian Navy.
    It is made of white marble and it depicts a young woman on a ship, dominating the "powers of the sea" (God of seas Neptune, sea dragon, etc..)

    Powers of the sea Powers of the sea Powers of the sea
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    HOFBURG PALACE 'MASTERY OF THE LAND' FOUNTAIN

    by balhannah Updated May 18, 2014

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    The Hofburg Palace that fronts the Michaelerplatz has two fountains, one located on each corner of the semicircular Michaeler Wing.

    First I took a look at the large sculpture group on the right, known as the 'Mastery of the Land'. This masterpiece was designed in 1897 by Edmund Hellmer and symbolizes the Austrian army.

    The sculpture is made up of four nude male figures.
    The only man standing looks to be in a heroic position. He is seen standing on a ledge with sword in one hand and is waving victoriously with the other. The other men are depicted falling over backwards, cringing and looking at the victor, and lastly, one is holding up a ledge with his back. An Eagle and a Serpent complete the sculpture. Plenty of feeling is shown in the faces of these men.

    This fountain didn't have any water!

    Mastery of the Land fountain Mastery of the Land fountain
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    THE LABOR OF HERCULES - No. 9

    by balhannah Updated May 17, 2014

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    The next statue on the left side of the Michaelertor gate, is no.9 Hippolyte's Belt.

    This labour involved Hercules to find Hippolyte, the Queen of the Amazons, and bring back her belt to Eurystheus.

    It is not what I thought, and that was about women warriors along the Amazon River in South America. The female warriors were named after the Greek word meaning "missing one breast." This is because an Amazon's right breast got in the way when Queen Hippolyte threw a spear. When baby boys were born, the warriors didn't keep them, only the girls to be warriors like themselves.

    Queen Hippolyte had a special leather belt that had been given to her by Ares, the war god, because she was the best warrior of all the Amazons.
    Hercules and his group of Greeks sailed to the land of the amazons, and were met by the Queen who wanted to know why he had come, so he told her the truth and she promised to give him the belt.
    All too easy! Really, she thought he was trouble, so her warriors grouped and rode their horses and charged at the boat. Hercules saw they meant business and that he was under attack, so he drew his sword and killed Hippolyte. He undid her belt and then returned to Mycenae, and he gave the belt to Eurystheus. Mission complete!

    Hercules & Hippolyte's Belt.
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    THE LABOR OF HERCULES - No. 12

    by balhannah Written May 17, 2014

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    Unfortunately, I can't work out which "labor of Hercules" is the first statue to the right of the gate. [photo 1]

    The statue next to it is No. 12 - CERBERUS

    The most dangerous labor of all was the 12TH & final one.
    Eurystheus ordered Hercules to go to the Underworld and kidnap the beast called Cerberus, a task Eurystheus thought Hercules would never succeed in doing! The Underworld was the kingdom of Hades. All souls, whether good or bad, were destined for the kingdom of Hades.

    Cerberus was a vicious beast, a strange mix of animals. He had three heads of wild dogs, a serpent for a tail, and heads of snakes all over his back. He guarded the entrance to Hades and kept the living from entering the world of the dead. Hercules knew that once in the kingdom of Hades, he might not be allowed to leave and rejoin the living.

    Hercules made his way through a cave and down to the Underworld where there were monsters and much more! He found Pluto and asked the god for Cerberus, no problems, indeed he could take Cerberus with him, but only if he overpowered the beast with nothing more than his own brute strength.
    The un-armed Hercules found Cerberus and straight away grabbed the beasts all three heads at once and continued to fight him until Cerberus was defeated.
    Hercules had completed his last task and Cerberus was returned safely to Hades, where he resumed guarding the gateway to the Underworld.

    Hercules & Cerberus
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    THE LABOR OF HERCULES - No. 2

    by balhannah Updated May 17, 2014

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    "The Labor of Hercules" is what the four sculptures on the portals of the Michaelertor are known as. I wondered why the "Hapsburgs" chose these statues.

    The Labor of Hercules is about the goddess Hera, who made Hercules lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and children. When he awoke from his temporary insanity, he was upset with what he had done and prayed to the god "Apollo" for guidance. The God's oracle told him he would have to serve the king of Tiryns and Mycenae for twelve years, in punishment for the murders. As part of his sentence, Hercules had to perform 12 labours, feats that would be too hard for most, but not for Hercules who managed to complete the twelve. It was after this, Hercules became Greece's greatest hero.

    So, these four statues are describing in art form, the different labours Hercules had to do.
    I found the statues told each of the stories really well, and was quite impressed with them all!

    So, let me tell you what your looking at. I will start with the one furthest to the left when standing facing the Michaelertor.

    This is No 2 in the Labors of Hercules and is known as....

    HERCULES vs the LERNAEAN HYDRA.

    The story is told that in the swamps at a place called Lerna, a Hydra would rise up and terrorize the countryside. A Hydra is a serpent with poisonous venom and nine heads, one of the heads was indestructible.
    Hercules and his nephew set off to find the Hydra, which they did at Lerna. It was in its den, so Hercules lured it out of its den by shooting flaming arrows at it. Once the hydra emerged, Hercules seized it, only the Hydra coiled its body around Hercules' foot and made it impossible for the hero to escape. With his club, Hercules attacked the many heads of the hydra, but as soon as he smashed one head, two more would appear! Hercules bashed it with his club, eventually getting the better of the beast and began destroying all of its heads.

    A look at the sculpture and I could see the story unfolding before my very eyes - well done!

    Hercules & Hydra Four Hercules statues @ Michaelertor
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    HOFBURG PALACE CONFERENCE CENTRE

    by balhannah Written May 17, 2014

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    Moving on from Neueburg, I came across another part of Hofburg Palace which had lots of different countries flags flying. At the time, I didn't know what this building was, but have since found out it is the International congress and event centre and is Europe’s premiere venue for conferences and events. . People from all around the world come here, hence the flags.
    If it is anything like the rest of the Palace, it will be opulent and elegant.
    It is located in part of the Old Imperial Palace (13th century), the New Imperial Palace (around 1900) and the Leopold Wing (17th century).

    Conference Centre
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    MICHAELERTOR INTERIOR

    by balhannah Updated May 16, 2014

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    The Michaelertor is a very beautiful baroque gateway, that connects Michaelerplatz [St. Michael's square] to a large courtyard referred to as the Innenhof.
    The curved decorative façade, has an arched entrance way where on either side are statues of Hercules symbolizing the mottoes of various rulers.
    As I walked through, I had to be careful as horse & carriages were continually passing me by, pedestrians too!
    I was quite surprised with the inside as I didn't expect to find the Dome decorated as nicely as it was! I found more archways and wall niches in which were statues of men and women. These figures in the niches symbolize the mottoes of various rulers -
    "Constance and Fortitude" - Emperor Charles VI,
    "Justice and Mercy - Maria Theresa,
    "By Might and Example" - Joseph II,
    "With all our Strength United" - Franz Joseph I.

    It is inside the Michaelertor where the entrances are to the Winter Riding School on the left, the Kaiser apartments and Sisi Museum to the right.

    Michaelertor Dome Interior of Michaelertor Interior of Michaelertor Interior of Michaelertor Interior of Michaelertor
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    ORNATE DOORS & GATES @ NEUEBURG

    by balhannah Updated May 16, 2014

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    To enter the Neueburg museums, you have to pass through some wonderfully decorated large cast iron doors. There are actually three of these identical gates/doors that are painted and have a double eagle with a crown.

    On either side of the door, is an interesting animals head on a curved piece of iron, I wondered what it was? Perhaps to keep the evil out?
    It did look scary!

    Scary? Carved gate Beside entrance door Scary? Entrance door
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    NEUEBURG - HOFBURG PALACE

    by balhannah Updated May 15, 2014

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    The exterior of the Neueburg probably was my favourite out of all the exteriors of Hofburg Palace.
    This part of Hofburg was not originally planned as a museum, but was to house the new living quarters of the Emperor. No cost was spared for decorating the interior, which you can still see today if you visit one of the museums.

    Firstly, I liked the semi-circular design of the building, it was impressive and appealing. Next, I noted all the statues on either sides of the entrance door, ten very detailed statues on each side. These represent Austria's history in many different ways. There is a Roman legionnaire and a Franconian count, a citizen and a medieval crusader, a Tyrolean freedom fighter and many more I took a guess at!

    Don’t miss them!

    Next, I moved onto where the Lion was guarding the entrance way, then onto the fully enclosed entrance hall. Looking skywards near the top of the building, were maybe bronze Angels waving there arms, and at the very top, a huge gold Crown.

    The Neueburg houses the Collection of Arms and Armour
    http://www.khm.at/en/visit/collections/collection-of-arms-and-armour/?cHash=dfb045333efd096a1ea1afd262c4a608

    the Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments
    http://www.khm.at/en/visit/collections/collection-of-historic-musical-instruments/?cHash=dfb045333efd096a1ea1afd262c4a608

    and the Ephesos Museum.
    http://www.khm.at/en/visit/collections/ephesos-museum/

    OPEN
    Wed - Sun 10 - 6pm

    IF YOU WISH TO SEE THESE MUSEUMS, MAKE SURE YOU COME ANY DAY OTHER THAN A MONDAY & TUESDAY, AS IT IS CLOSED ON THESE TWO DAYS.

    More photos in travelogue

    Neueburg statues Neueburg Neueburg statues Neueburg entrance and statues Neueburg statues
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