If walls could talk, the Imperial hunting lodge of Eckartsau would tell many gripping stories about the final days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nestled in the Danube wetlands and surrounded on all sides by the expansive Schlosspark gardens, Eckartsau was the final Austrian residence of Emperor Charles I and his wife Zita from 1918 to 1919.
Under the Eckartsau dominion, extensive land and territories were acquired both to the east and west, as were castles, market towns and rights. In the 16th and 17th centuries the inhabitants of Eckartsau came and went with regularity. The magnificent appearance of the palace today can be attributed in large part to Count Franz Ferdinand von Kinsky, who purchased the property, including the Eckartsau manor, in 1720. He subsequently converted the medieval fortification to a baroque hunting lodge. Top-notch artists such as Fischer von Erlach, Daniel Gran and Lorenzo Mattielli were closely involved in the extensive redevelopment.
In 1760, Francis Stephan von Lothringen (Francis I), husband of Maria Theresa, acquired the castle. Over the years, its most prominent residents included Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the throne, as well as Austria’s last imperial couple Charles I and Zita, who spent their final days in Austria at Eckartsau before going into exile. After 1945, the Austrian National Forests (ÖBf) became the administrators of Schloss Eckartsau and in the past decades have worked extensively to restore the castle – parts of which had been in absolute desolate condition – to its former glory.
At the time Eckartsau was erected as a fortification, the castle was in the middle of the wilderness and protected by ditches. At the beginning of the 18th century, in the course of redevelopment and conversion of the castle to the baroque style, two rows of linden trees were planted to form an allée. To the east, this lane stretched into the wetlands, all the way to a mooring spot on the Danube; to the west, it led to the spot where visitors arriving by carriage could be picked up.
Around 1900, Schloss Eckartsau experienced a renewed upswing under Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who found Eckartsau to be ideal for hunting. He refurbished the desolate structure from the ground up and commissioned Anton Umlauft, then imperial and royal director of gardens, to design the landscaped gardens. An even plateau was created where ditches once prevailed; the oval form created by these earth deposits is reflected in the curved paths in the park that wind around Schloss Eckartsau. The two-row linden allée was integrated into the design as an element of order and now forms the border between the wilderness of the Danube wetlands and the cultivated landscape of the Marchfeld.References:
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.
The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.
The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.