Hofburg Palace

Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace is the former imperial palace in the centre of Vienna. Part of the palace forms the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. Built in the 13th century and expanded in the centuries since, the palace has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the principal imperial winter residence, as Schönbrunn Palace was their summer residence.

Since 1279 the Hofburg area has been the documented seat of government for various empires and republics. 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, thereafter the seat of the Emperor of Austria until 1918.

The Hofburg has been expanded over the centuries to include various residences (with the Amalienburg), the Imperial Chapel (Hofkapelle), the Naturhistorisches Museum and Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Austrian National Library (Hofbibliothek), the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer), the Burgtheater, the Spanish Riding School (Hofreitschule), the Imperial Horse Stables, and the Hofburg Congress Center.

Things to see

Once known as the Court Silver and Table Room, the Imperial Silver Collection lies in the Imperial Chancellery Wing of the Imperial Palace and gives visitors an insight into the culture of dining at court with over 7,000 items on display. Learn about the history of the Silver Chamber, those who ran it and the importance it played in the day-to-day life of the Habsburgs. Since the end of the imperial monarchy in 1918, some of the elaborate Silver Wear is still used for formal state banquets and dinners.

Hofburg Palace is a sprawling hub of imperial power and was home to the Habsburgs for over 600 years. Each member of the family had their own apartments or suites in one of the many wings. Each apartment was lavishly decorated in the Empire, baroque and Rococo style. Let yourself be taken back in time as you journey through this imperial palace and home and marvel at the splendour of the Austrian monarchy.

The Sisi museum is dedicated to the life of legendary Empress Sisi (Elisabeth), examining her true character and habits. With over 300 personal items, discover the true story of this legendary Empress from the clothes she wore, her poetry, her beauty recipes and even an insight into her imperial carriage. On special occasions, unique objects like a milk tooth and her christening robes are also on display for visitors to see.

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Decin Castle

Perched atop its cliff where the Ploučnice meets the Elbe, Děčín Castle is one of the oldest and largest landmarks in northern Bohemia. In the past several hundred years it has served as a point of control for the Bohemian princes, a military fortress, and noble estate.

The forerunner of the Děčín Castle was a wooden fortress built towards the end of the 10th century by the Bohemian princes. The first written record of the province dates from 993 A.D. and of the fortress itself from 1128. In the thirteenth century it was rebuilt in stone as a royal castle that, under unknown circumstances, fell into the hands of the powerful Wartenberg dynasty around 1305.

Numerous later renovations has erased all but fragments of the original medieval semblance of the castle. A significant change to the castle came in the second half of the 16th century when it was held by the Saxon Knights of Bünau, who gradually rebuilt the lower castle into a Renaissance palace with a grand ceremonial hall. The current semblance of the castle is the work of the Thun-Hohensteins, who held the Děčín lands from 1628 to 1932. The Thuns originally came from southern Tyrol and gradually worked their way to the upper echelons of Hapsburg society where they regularly filled important political and church appointments.

The Thuns reworked the castle twice. The first reconstruction, in the Baroque style, was undertaken by Maximilian von Thun, Imperial envoy and diplomat, and was meant to enhance the ceremonial aspects of the property. A central element of the project was a grand access road, the Long Drive, ending in the upper gate of the completely rebuilt entry wing. Along the drive stretched an ornamental garden (today known as the Rose Garden) and a riding yard. Maximilian’s brother Johann Ernst von Thun was responsible for the erection of the Church of the Ascension of the Holy Cross in the town below.

The second and final reconstruction of the castle was undertaken in 1786–1803. The Gothic and Renaissance palaces were torn down, all structures were leveled to the same height and gave them a unified facade. On the riverfront the castle's new dominant feature arose, a slender clock tower. Thus the castle took on the Baroque-Classical style we see today.

In the course of the 19th century, the castle became an important cultural and political center. In the 20th century the castle was used as a military garrison for German and Soviet troops after being handed to the Czechoslovak state in 1932. In 1991 the castle reverted to the ownership of the city of Děčín and the gradual renovation of the devastated structure began.

The eastern wing serves as a branch of the Děčín Regional Museum. The northern wing is occupied by the State District Archives. The staterooms of the western wing welcome individual and group tours, weddings, concerts, exhibits, and other cultural events. The castle courtyard comes to life throughout the year with events ranging from the Historic May Fair to the Wine Festival in September.