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Belvedere Palace

Belvedere complex is a garden palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, comprising two separate buildings constructed between 1714 (Lower Belvedere) and 1724 (Upper Belvedere) by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt.

Located in Vienna, Austria, Belvedere is the grandest of the garden palaces surrounding the inner city beyond the Glacis that were built for the aristocracy and upper bourgeoisie from the late 17th century. Some of these are mere garden houses, but some are quite substantial, and the Belvedere is in size and function almost a residenz.

Belevedere Palace History

Prince Eugene began buying plots of land in 1693 at a prestigious site south of the city: the elaborate Palais Schwarzenberg lies to the west and the Salesian Convent to the east. The site, where the first garden was laid out in around 1700, was a narrow and very long strip of land sloping upwards to the south. Hildebrandt was involved from at least 1702, and the city plan of 1706 by Leander Anguissola and Jakob Marinoni shows a palace at the foot of the slope.

Occupying the whole width of the site, it had a small courtyard with curved wings to the street and either an oval or semicircular main hall facing the garden, reminiscent of work by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, who designed Prince Eugene’s city palace (begun 1696), later completed by Hildebrandt.

As executed during 1714-1716, however, the Lower Belvedere has straight wings around a courtyard towards the street and a single-storey flat façade of 35 bays facing the garden. The general appearance is that of an orangery, and indeed only the central pavilion and the west wing contain living rooms, with two orangeries of eleven bays each flanking the central pavilion.

The orangery façades are very simply decorated with banded walls and pilaster-strips between the windows; the central pavilion has Corinthian pilasters and more elaborate window frames. The three central bays rise through two storeys and contain the main hall, which was frescoed in 1716 by Martino Altomonte, who painted the figurative parts, and Marcantonio Chiarini (1652–1730), who executed the architectural parts.

In 1717 after the completion of the Lower Belvedere, the Bavarian court landscape designer Dominique Girard, was invited to design the Belevedere garden. He divided the long strip into three rectangular areas, with trees and fountains next to the Lower Belvedere and two partly sunk parterres beyond. The central axis is a visual one only and the way up is by ramps on either side of the parterres, making use of the sloping ground. The garden sculpture is by Lorenzo Mattielli (1678–1748) and his workshop; the iron railings of c. 1725 are among the most important examples of the period in Austria.

The point at which the Upper Belvedere, a second building higher up the hill, was first conceived cannot be determined as the Prince’s archives have disappeared. To have a building at the other end of the garden to close the vista was quite customary in Vienna, but these were nearly always small and often transparent. The idea of a hilltop palace was the basis of an unexecuted design of 1688 by Fischer von Erlach for the emperor’s palace at Schönbrunn, and it is perhaps significant that Prince Eugene took up the idea and had it executed by Fischer von Erlach’s rival, Hildebrandt.

Upper Belevdere construction started in 1721 and must have been completed in the very short time of two years. Seen from the garden, the north façade of the

Upper Belvedere is a long, single range of 29 bays articulated as a series of seven pavilions; the large octagonal one at the centre has a mansard roof, and pairs of small octagonal pavilions at either end are domed. This design owes much to the French system of linked pavilions, as seen in the Tuileries, Paris, although the very rich and decorative treatment of the walls clearly indicates Hildebrandt’s personal style. Although the parts appear as pavilions on the roofline, they are firmly tied together by horizontal cornices and entablatures; the architectural ornament, including pilasters, capitals and window surrounds, becomes richer towards the centre.

Because of the sloping ground, the entrance façade on the south side of the Upper Belvedere has a semi-basement instead of a ground floor and the building thus appears to be even longer.

In the centre is a single-storey loggia giving direct access to the staircase that leads up in paired flights to the Festsaal on the first floor and down to the sala terrena, where atlantids support the roof vaults. The sala terrena has an almost possessive view over Vienna, the symbolic importance of which can be measured by both the silhouette carefully included in Saloman Kleiner’s view of the sala terrena and a painting by Bernardo Bellotto made from roughly that viewpoint. The interiors are partly lost, but what remains gives an idea of the Prince’s rather heavy and sumptuous taste.

The Belvedere Palace must have been an ideal commission: an imposing building and garden of princely dimensions fit for the most important person in the empire after the emperor himself, and a client who was often absent, with few personal needs and no family, and with hardly any financial limitations.

In 1752 Prince Eugene’s heirs sold the Belvedere to the crown and in 1779 its park was opened to the public. From 1781 to 1891 it housed the imperial picture gallery, and after 1923 it housed important collections of the Österreichische Galerie

Belevedere Palace Map&Location

Belvedere Palace is located on Prinz-Eugen Street, Vienna, Austria. (Adress: Prinz-Eugen-Straße 27, 1040 Wien, Austria). Get help with directions using the map provided bellow!

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Belevedere Palace Photos

Belvedere Palace Vienna
Belvedere Palace in Vienna (Upper)

Lower Belvedere Fontaine
Belvedere Palace Fontaine (Lower)

Lower Belvedere Palace
Lower Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace Detail
Belvedere Palace Detail

Belvedere Palace the Great Hall
Belvedere Palace the Great Hall

Belvedere Vienna Palace
Belevedere Palace Architecture

Schloss Belvedere Ceiling of the Marble Hall
Schloss Belvedere Ceiling of the Marble Hall

The Belvedere Palace
Palace Belvedere Entrance

Belvedere Palace Great Hall
Belvedere Palace Interior

Belevedere Palace Wien
Belevedere Garden