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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrHofburg, located in the center of Vienna, is one of the best introductions to the rich history of the city. As you walk through the various rooms of this magnificent palace, it puts into perspective the significance of the culture and history of the times.
For more than six centuries, the mighty empire of the Habsburgs was ruled from the palace. Originally a medieval fortified castle dating from the 13th century, the Hofburg was extended by each emperor. Until the end of the monarchy in 1918, the Hofburg was inhabited by the imperial family.
Built over a period of several centuries, the complex incorporates styles ranging from neo-Gothic to Baroque and Art Nouveau. The complex consists of 10 major buildings and over 2,600 rooms.
The earlier parts surround a large courtyard called the Swiss Court, named after the mercenaries who stood guard there. Among the many outstanding sights available to visitors are two magnificent halls, the Festsaal and the Redoutensaal. It was here that the Emperor held gala dinners and royal balls for his audiences.
Today, the Hofburg houses the office of the President of Austria as well as an important congress center and numerous art collections.
Not only is this a lovely palace, but a great way to learn about the Austro-Hungarian empire. It’s not possible to cover the Hofburg in one visit, but by the time you've finished a tour of the Sisi Musem, Imperial Apartments, and Imperial Silver Collection, you’ll have a good feel about the members of the royal court and their lifestyle.
What to SeeThe Hofburg houses the Imperial Apartments with original decor, Imperial Treasuries, six Museums, the National Library, and the famous Riding School. If you love music you can also head to the weekly performances by the Vienna Boys Choir at the Royal Chapel. One of Hofburg's most significant museums is the Imperial Treasury or Schatzkammer which offers a superb display of the Habsburg dynasty's jewelry, masterpieces of applied arts, and sacred relics. The Albertina, which houses one of the world’s largest graphic art collections, with works by Raphael, Rembrandt, Dürer, and Michelangelo, also should not to be missed.
Sisi MuseumA museum devoted to "Sisi," the beloved Empress Elisabeth, wife of Franz Josef, is one of the latest Hofburg attractions. The headstrong girl from Munich gained a reputation for rejecting court etiquette and being a bit of a free-spirit. The museum houses hundreds of her personal belongings as well as a history of her fascinating life. Among the highlights are numerous personal objects once owned by Elisabeth as well as the most famous portraits of the beautiful Empress.
Imperial ApartmentsApart from its function as the seat of government and administrative center, the Hofburg was also the winter residence of the Imperial family. Emperor Franz Joseph and his Elisabeth lived here with their children and the entire royal household. The the Kaiserappartements consist of more than 2,000 rooms where the royal family once lived, but only 19 are open to the public. The furnishing of the private quarters in the Rococo style reflects Emperor Franz Joseph’s modesty; it is austere, yet conveys a certain Imperial illustriousness without being extravagant.
Imperial Silver CollectionAn impressive collection of silverware and golden and porcelain items are on display on the ground floor in the Silberkammer. The exhibition extends over an area of 1,310 sq meters and consist of an amazing variety of preserved utility objects and artifacts. 7,000 items include cooking pans, baking tins, table linen, glass services, table silver, porcelain, and centerpieces of gilt bronze. The silverware gives an impression of the lavish pomp of imperial banquets, but the porcelain in the collection is the star. The highlights include the personal eating implement set of Empress Maria Theresa, the Minton dessert service, the golden table service of Napoleon I, and Empress Elisabeth’s portable travelling service.
VisitingHofburg is open daily, including public holidays, from 9.00 AM, closing times are 5:30 PM September to June, and 6:00 PM in July and August. Last admission is one hour before the ticket office closes. Visit the palace as soon as it opens to avoid the crowds and the large tourist groups. The audio guide will give you enough explanation without going overboard and allow you to move through at your own pace. Make sure that you take a map with you as the German labelled maps can be quite confusing. You can also buy a ticket with a tour guide, but be aware that the guided tour includes a tour of either the Silver Collection or the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments, not both.
Getting ThereThe Hofburg is centrally located in Vienna, so it’s in easy reach. The closest metro station is Herrengasse on orange line U3. Or tram 1, 2, D and J, get off at stop Burgring. Buses 2A and 3A stop at Hofburg. The most common way to enter the Hofburg is from Michaelerplatz. An ornate Baroque gateway, the Michalertor, connects the square with a large courtyard.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Jun 06, 2015