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.
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.
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.