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DYING IN STYLE!
Although a visit to the the Imperial burial vaults beneath the Kapuzinerkirche might not appear on you list of 'Jolly Things to do in Vienna', may I be amongst the first to beg you to reconsider. Although having a macabre personality, a Goth in the family, or a mother-in-law to frighten off the Atkins Diet would all be good reasons to seek out these vaults, all you really need is a capacity to appreciate that, even in death, art has it's place. The extraordinary sculpted coffins that line the vaults beggar simple description and you feel a sense of awe rather than morbidity.
Those with a historical bent will be interested to seek out the resting place of the regally famous/infamous...for example the last reigning Emperor, Franz Josef and his son Rudolf (he of Mayerling fame). Archduke Franz Ferdinand the assassinated WWI catalyst is not here (Schloss Arstetten is where he's buried) but my own favourite, poor Maximilian I of Mexico most certainly is. Poor fellow...
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A trip into history
One of my favourite sights in Vienna was the Kapuzinergruft. We had never planned to visit it but during a rememberance event for emperor Franz Josef I we had no other choice. We came here for a laugh never expecting something as great as this vault where so many emperors of the Austrian empire are buried. Please note that only their bodies are buried here, hearts as well as innards are kept in other churches!!!
Walking through here feels like walking through your history book. Many of the names you read on the coffins you know from there. And the coffins are beautiful, well at least, strangely beautiful. Skulls and bones as well as angels and crowns await you here. They became a bit boring in "recent" years. The most photographed coffin of Frank Josef and his wife "Sissi" look pretty normal to me. I enjoyed the darker ones. I couldn't stop looking at them. And taking pictures...
Kapuzinergruft is next to Kapuzinerkirche at the end of Neuer Markt and it does not look very special from outside, although 138 of the austrian emperors are buried there with their families, including Maria Theresia, and our last emperor, Kaiser Franz Joseph and his wife Sisi . See my extra-pictures with great details of the tombs !
The last member of the Habsburg-family, who was buried there was empress Zita, who died in 1989.
Kaisergruft under the Kapuzinerkirche is open
daily 09.30.a.m. untill 04.00p.m.
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Kapuzinerkirche and Kaisergruft
In this Church I mean Kapuzinerkirche there are 138 remains of emperor's family of Austria. The crypt was founded by wife of emperor in 1617 and last funeral was in year 1989.
The most moving are three tombs with the remains of Franz Josef, his murdered wife Elisabeth (Sisi) and his tragically deceased son Rudolf.
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One of the squares I enjoyed more in Vienna, full of elegant buildings and, at the centre a fountain.
The person who paid Mr. Donnel to make the fountain was a cheap payer, so the artist had its revenge pointing one of the statue' ass on his windows(enlarge the picture to see it)
Kaisergruft - The emperors tombs
The emperors’ tomb is placed into the underground part of the Kapuzienerkirche.
It was made after the order of the emperor Matthias in the year 1619.
Here, there are 138 Habsburgs.
Here, you can see the tombs of important emperors: Maria Theresa and of her husband Franz I, the emperor Franz Joseph, the empress Elisabeth, the crown prince Rudolf, and the last empress of Austria, Zita, that died in year 1989.
The tombs are surrounded of many sculptures and statues that have a historic and artistic value.
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This church, the Church of the Augustinian Friars, is an old imperial church... not stunning in its architecture but rich in history. This is where the ruling family celebrated their marriages, including the one of Emperor Franz Joseph to Sissi... but more surprisingly it is also the place where the Napoleon married the Austrian Princess Marie Louise.
It was built in the 14th century and presents at least two higlights: the first one is the tomb of Archduchess Maria Christine (in the photo). Her husband suffered a great deal when she died and had the Italian Antonio Canova build this impressive tomb in white Carrara marble. The second highlight is the the Loreto Chapel, where the Herzgruft (heart burial vault) is located. In this Chapel 54 hearts of memebers of the Habsburgs are kept in silver urns.
As far as I know, the Burial Vault of the Hearts of the Habsburgs can be visited on Sundays after High Mass, but I am not speaking out of personal experience.
THE CAPUCHIN CHURCH
The Capuchin church has quite a different exterior to the other Churches I had seen in Vienna.
Evidently, this is typical for a Capuchin Church. It was founded by Empress Anna in 1618 and is dedicated to "Our Lady of the Angels". The most precious work of art in the church is a "Pietà" near the altar in the right-hand transept.
The façade has an insignia of the Capuchin order, and a fresco that was painted in 1936. To the left hand side of the church, you can see a big memorial for a Capuchin monk. The cornerstone was laid in the presence of Emperor Ferdinand II and the Prince-Bishop of Olomouc, in 1622. Through the 30 years war, work progressed slowly, so it was in 1632 the Church was consecrated as the church of "Mary of the Angels".
The inside had a lot of dark wood, especially around the Altar. Not overly decorated, but I still liked the interior!
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Kapuzinerkirche is almost nondescript little church on Neuer Markt Platz and I took a photo of it only in passing. To be honest, I had no idea what the significance this church has for Austria and Austrians.
The story says that Capuchin Brothers, under Lorenzo da Brindisi, resided Vienna in about 1599. They had been sent to Prague by Pope Clement VIII in the course of the Counter-Reformation. Matthias of Habsburg invited them to stop temporarily in Vienna and he donated and constructed a new church for the brothers. The church and the monastery was finished in 1632, under the rule of Ferdinand II, the successor of Matthias.
The church is most famous for containing the Imperial Crypt, the final resting place for members of the House of Habsburgs. The name of the church is Saint Mary of the Angels but most people call if Kaisergruft. The subterranean mausoleum is the Imperial Crypt (Kaisergruft) and since 1633 it is the principal place of entombment for the Habsburg dynasty. Kaisergruft or Kapuzinergruft is a burial chamber beneath the church and monastery. The bodies of 145 Habsburg royalty are deposited here, including 12 emperors and 18 empresses.
The Capuchin friars continue their customery role as the guardians and caretakers of the crypt.
Neuer Markt , the new market, is not a new square... it became Vienna's second market place when the first one (hohermarkt) became too congested. In 1234 it became known as novum forum and originally it was where flour could be bought.
At the centre of the square you can find the Providence fountain, which is also called Donner fountain, after the atchitect who built it. The entire square was severely damaged in the war, except for the fountain, that was left untouched. Provindence?
Kapuzinerkirche and Kapuzinergruft
This baroque church is located at Neuer Markt and was constructed in the years 1622 - 1632 and contains a monument of Marco d'Avionos by Hans Maurer (1935). Outside wall was reconstructed in 1936. The altar contains a painting by J.Baumgartner from 18th century. Graveplate of Marco d'Avianos with a monument by Riser (1891). The tomb contains sarcophags of 140 members of the House Habsburg since 1633, like Maria Theresia.
THE NEUER MARKT
The area where I am in at the moment is known as the Neuer Markt or New Market, previously in medieval times where the Flour & Grain market was held. It's one of the oldest places of Vienna as it was first mentioned under the name of “Novum Forum” in 1234. The buildings around this place have the character of prestigious middle-class houses.
Once again, it isn't a square, more an irregular rectangular shape. In the middle of the square stands the Donnerbrunnen. This square has a mixture of old and new buildings because it was heavily damaged during WWII.
The most famous building on the Neuer Markt is the Capuchin Church, which underneath is a crypt - the resting place of the Habsburgs .
One of the nicest buildings is Pension Neuermarkt. Another looked more modern and had modern
People were in this market square with stalls selling pottery and sketches of beautiful Vienna.
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Final resting place of the Habsburgs
Dating back to 1632, Kapuzinerkirche, the Capuchin Church, is not a particularly big nor a particularly beautiful church. Its main interest lies in the fact that its crypt holds the bodies of over 100 members of the Habsburg family. The first burial at the Kaisergruft (Imperial crypt) took place in 1633. Each bronze or copper sarcophagus contitutes a remarkable piece of art. The most popular tomb in the crypt is without a doubt that of Empress Elizabeth (Sissi) - it's easy to spot since it's usually covered with flowers. The body of Empress Zita, the last reigning member of the Habsburgs, was placed in the crypt in 1989, but the Kaisergruft remains active to this day day since it remains the official resting place for descendents of the Habsburg family. The bodies of Archduke Otto and his wife Archduchess Regina were laid to rest in July 2011; it's the last entombment to have taken place at the time of writing this tip.
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Neuer Markt is one of the oldest square in Vienna, since 1220 onwards it served as a corn and vegetable market but also a place where the court and nobility could come to skate. Today it is a large parking lot and a feeder for the Kaertnerstrasse pedestrian zone. The square is rectangular in shape and closed completely with the 18th and 18th century buildings.
Joseph Haydn, the great Austrian composer, lived where where number 2 stands and it is where he wrote the Austrian anthem. Here on this square you can find a lot of nice cafes, shops, restaurants and bars. The central part of the square is occupied by the Donnerbrunnen and it is one of the favorite meeting points for Viennese people.
THE IMPERIAL CRYPT
On the left-hand side of the Capuchin Church, is the entrance to the Imperial Crypt which lies beneath the Capuchin church.
The Imperial Crypt, or Kaisergruft, is the last resting place of dozens of Emperors, Empresses, Archdukes and their spouses and offspring, of one of the most famous dynasties in world history: the Hapsburgs, 138 members of the House lie here.
Since 1633 all the Austrian Emperors have been buried here, with just a few exceptions. The coffins contain only the embalmed bodies without the internal organs and the hearts. At the funeral ceremony of the Habsburgs, the body, guts and heart were to be buried separately. The heart is buried in the crypt in the heart of St. Augustine's Church and intestines in the catacombs of St. Stephen's Cathedral.
When I knew this was in the Capuchin Monastery, I was interested in seeing what the coffins and vaults were decorated like. I just had to go!
I paid my entrance fee and followed the arrow - Only one way direction to see everything.
The crypt's chambers are large, well-lit although the walls are bare. Row upon row of large ornate sarcophagi is what I saw. Each was named and many were adorned with skulls. I suggest if you wish to know more, buy an English guide and map, too!
I will tell you about some that you will see
Some very important ones were the "Founder's Vault," who was Emperor Matthias, who died in 1619, and Empress Anna, who died in 1618. Originally they were laid to rest in the monastery of St Dorothea, and their bodies were the first to be transferred to the Imperial Vault in 1633.
The Maria Theresa Vault is a domed chamber where a double sarcophagus in the Roccoco style sits. It is here, Maria Theresa, who died in 1780, and Francis I, in 1765, lie at rest.
The sarcophagus has at the head of the Imperial couple, an angel of fame with trumpet and a crown of stars proclaiming the triumph of faith. On the sides are numerous reliefs depicting scenes from Maria Theresa's life. Ornamentation includes four mourning figures and the crowns of Austria, Hungary, Bohemia and Jerusalem. In a niche in the Maria Theresa Vault, is the coffin of the Countess Karoline Fuchs-Mollart who died in 1754.
She was responsible for the upbringing of Maria Theresa and is the only person buried here who was not a member of the Imperial House.
The Leopoldine Vault is called the Angel Vault, for among the 16 bronze caskets are 12 in which children were laid to rest.
Caroline Vault is a magnificent work of art. It rests on four lions and is decorated with the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire, Bohemia, Hungary and Castile.
The Franz Joseph Vault, established in 1909, is where Emperor Franz Joseph I (d. 1916), Crown Prince Rudolf, who committed suicide in the hunting lodge at Mayerling in 1889, Empress Elisabeth ("Sissi") who was murdered in Geneva, and (in the vestibule) ex-Empress Zita von Habsburg (d. 1989) are at rest.
The New Vault from 1962, contains the sarcophagi of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico who was executed in 1867 and Marie Louise, Napoleon's wife, who died in 1847. The body of their son, the Duke of Reichstadt, was transferred to Paris where it was buried in the Invalides.
There is a Chapel in the Imperial Vault which has a memorial tablet to Emperor Charles I, the last Emperor of Austria. He died in exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira in 1922.
Ferdinand I, the Kindly, who died in 1875 and whose coffin stands on a pedestal, shares this chamber with 37 other members of the Habsburg family who are placed in niches in the walls.
The last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was Francis II, who died in 1835, lies in the Francis II Vault surrounded by the graves of his four consorts in a classical copper coffin.
The most impressive section is the Maria-Theresia-Gruft, a domed chamber dominated by a huge, complex sarcophagus for the Empress and her husband. The same chamber houses many of her 16 children.
Another must-see is the Franz-Josephs-Gruft, the chamber that's home to Emperor Franz Joseph I, his wife Empress Elisabeth and their son Crown Prince Rudolph. Elisabeth was assassinated by an anarchist in Switzerland. When Rudolph took his own life he was succeeded by Franz Joseph's nephew, Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in Sarajevo sparked the first World War.
They suggest 30minutes to look around, although if your like me and find this very interesting, you will be much longer! I liked the intricate decoration on some of the coffins, the skulls, the designs and was amazed at how big and ornate many of these coffins were! It was fascinating for me, and in May, there was hardly another person down there.
Scary - No, perhaps some people may be as it is dark and very quiet, and you are with the dead!
OPEN DAILY 10 - 6PM
Adults EUR 5.50
Families EUR 12,00
Seniors, students, groups of EUR 4.50
Students up to 14 years EUR 2,50
U1, U2, U3, U4, trams D, 1, 2, 62, Badner Bahn, Bus 3A, 59A to Karlsplatz, Bus 3A to Albertina Square
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