Kaisergruft - The Imperial Crypt, Vienna
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
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.
Centrally located in downtown Vienna you can visit the Kaisergruft (Emperors Crypt). Here is the burial site of the Habsburger Family.
You will find the grave of the famous Sissi and plenty of members of this dynastie. With surprise I found two graves of people from Weilburg-Nassau, a town where my parents grew up and which I of course visit very often. (see my page about Weilburg)
daily 10.00 to 18.00,
1. and 2. November closed
Adults EUR 5,00 ; Families EUR 11,00
Retired, Students, Groups EUR 4,00
Pupil up to 14 years EUR 2,00
Check the webpage below for changes...
The Habsburgs ruled the empire for centuries. The Emperors, archdukes and their families lay in state in this publicly accessible crypt. Marvel at the unbelievably ornate sarcophagi, and contrast with the spartan burial vault of Franz Joseph. If you're in Vienna in midsummer, this cool, dark, spooky place is a welcome respite from the continental sun.
Ok, anyone who is keen on tombs (yes, I believe there actually are people who go on trips just for this!), here's one for you... all 144 tombs of members of the Hapsburg Empire.
Built in 1633, 12 emperors & 15 empresses rest here. Some of the famous ones are: Leopold I, Joseph I, Charles VI, Maria Theresa & Francis I, Francis II, Maria Luisa & Francis Joseph.
It was said that Maria Theresa spent a great deal of time, mostly nights, alone next to her husband's sarcophagus. Such was the intensity of her love for her husband. Consider spending nights among the many sarcophagus in the Imperial Crypt... the magnitude of her grief must have been great!
The Kaisergruft is under the Capuchin Church.