Castles and Palaces
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Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace is the former residence of the Habsburg family, the Holy Roman Emperors and the Austrian emperors. Currently the Hofburg Palace is the seat of the Austrian president, and it also hosts many museums.

Hofburg Complex - Structure and Architecture

1. The Schweizerhof (Swiss Wing) at the centre of the Hofburg complex, is an approximately square structure first documented in 1275. Originally a part of the medieval fortifications of the town, it was flanked by four corner towers and a gate tower and was surrounded by a castle moat, now partially filled in. Extensive alterations determined its present appearance: the façades were accentuated by simple Renaissance windows, the inner courtyard was given ground-floor arcades (subsequently bricked up), the rooms were replanned and most were decorated with ceiling paintings by Pietro Ferabosco, who may also have decorated the richly embellished Schweizertor.

2. In the mid-18th century narrow internal staircases were built, the Botschafterstiege (Ambassadors’ Staircase) projecting into the courtyard, and on the opposite side the Säulenstiege (Column Staircase), which until 1988 led to the Schatzkammer (Treasury). In the south-east corner of the Schweizerhof is the Burgkapelle, first mentioned in 1296 and rebuilt in the 15th century. Embellished with tracery, it originally had two floors; in the upper hall, which has three bays, net vaults and a five-sided apse, are 13 noteworthy Late Gothic figures of saints surmounted by baldacchinos, which are the work of followers of Nicolaus Gerhaert. After a Baroque remodelling in the 17th and 18th centuries, the interior was restored in the Gothic style in 1802.

3. The Quadrangular Stallburg was built as a separate residence for Emperor Maximilian II. Isolated from the rest of the Hofburg complex by the Reitschulgasse, it can be reached only by a footbridge. It is the most important Renaissance building in Vienna. In contrast to the unadorned outer walls, the inner courtyard is surrounded by three-storey arcades. The ground floor has been used since 1565 as stables, while the imperial picture gallery was displayed from 1721 to 1778 in the upper rooms designed by Claude Le Fort du Plessy.

4. The Amalienburg  at the north-west end of the Burgplatz (‘) was built as a self-contained residence for the Habsburg archdukes. It was remodelled in 1581 by Ferabosco and was the first building in the complex with an articulation that determined its visual impact. The interplay between the windows and asymmetrically placed portal and its decorative rustication and cornices together make it one of the most important buildings of Austrian Mannerism. In 1712 its proportions and articulation were substantially altered by the addition of a mezzanine floor.

5. The Leopoldinischer Trakt was built between 1660 and 1667 for Emperor Leopold I by Philiberto Luchese to replace a sentry walk on the city wall between the Schweizertrakt and the Amalienburg. Although articulating elements are omitted from the Burgplatz front of this long residential wing, the even sequence of vertically linked windows and shallow pilasters on the outer façade is a typical device used on prestigious buildings in Austria and Bohemia in the second half of the 17th century. Soon after its completion the new wing was destroyed by fire; it was rebuilt by Giovanni Pietro Tencala to the old designs but with a mezzanine floor added. In 1699, for the marriage of the Archduke Joseph (later Joseph I) the royal apartments on the first floor were decorated with 148 ceiling paintings by Peter Strudel; they constitute the largest surviving decorative cycle of the Austrian Baroque.

The Burgplatz has existed since the 16th century; surrounded by the Schweizertrakt, Leopoldinischer Trakt, Amalienburg and the administrative building of the Hofkammer and Reichskanzlei (former imperial chancelleries), it was used as an arena for tournaments and theatrical performances and now contains the monument of Emperor Francis I by Pompeo Marchesi. In 1723 Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt was commissioned by the imperial chancellor Prince-Archbishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn to rebuild the Reichskanzlei; his simple façade on the Schauflergasse, facing the city, and the arrangement of the interior have survived, although many rooms were subsequently remodelled, including the imperial state rooms.

6. The Reichskanzleitrakt, occupying the entire north side of the Burgplatz, was completed for Emperor Charles VI by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, who succeeded Hildebrandt in 1726. He demolished Hildebrandt’s original Burgplatz façade and erected a new frontage dominated by flat surfaces accentuated by three projections. The façade is articulated by giant pilasters and richly embellished with sculpture; the four statues on the two side gateways, representing the Labours of Hercules, are by Lorenzo Mattielli.

7. The Winterreitschule and half the Durchfahrtsrondell, the opening between the Burgplatz and the Michaelerfront on the city side, were executed to Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach’s competition design following Hildebrandt’s overall rebuilding plan for the Hofburg.

The plain street façade of the Winterreitschule is characterized by a high, rusticated ground floor below giant pilasters framing blank panels; in contrast, on the side facing the Michaelerplatz, a rounded corner is emphasized by recessed free-standing columns and a small cupola.

The severe, monochrome riding hall takes up the whole interior; its striking effect is produced mainly by monumental free-standing colonnades on each side, with balustrades supporting viewing galleries above, and by the enormous scale of the flat white ceiling with stucco coffering. The remainder of the Michaelerfront was completed only in 1889–1893 by Ferdinand Kirschner.

At the centre of the new concave frontage is the Michaelertor, a triumphal arch articulated with columns like the Winterreitschule and crowned by a tall dome above the Durchfahrtsrondell; it is flanked by two curved wings, one adjoining the Winterreitschule and the other having a matching termination, with rounded, colonnaded corners and cupola.

8. The Hofbibliothek (now part of the Austrian National Library) was built between 1722 and 1736 to plans by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and completed by his son Joseph Emanuel. It was conceived as a detached building on the south side of the Josephsplatz and was aligned to Johann Bernhard’s Hofstallungen, the imperial stables built just outside the walls. The flat, pilastered façade of the library is dominated by the projecting central oval of the Prunksaal (Hall of State), its dome expressed externally in angular roof forms. A masterpiece of the Viennese Baroque, the Prunksaal is two storeys in height and contains eight marble statues of Habsburg emperors by Peter and Paul Strudel.

9. The Volksgarten  was laid out in 1819–1823, when Ludwig von Remy also laid out the Heldenplatz, with two equestrian statues added in 1860 and 1865. Between the Leopoldinischer Trakt and the Schweizerhof, facing the Heldenplatz, is the large, Neo-classical Zeremoniensaal by Louis Joseph Montoyer. Opposite is the fortified Burgtor, built in revolutionary Neo-classical style to commemorate the Battle of the Nations (1813). It was begun in 1821 by Luigi Cagnola and completed by Peter Nobile in 1824.

Hofburg Palace Map&Location

Hofbur Palace is located in Vienna, Austria at the following adress: Hofburg B, 1010 Wien-Innere Stadt, Austria. Get help with directions using this map:

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Hofburg Palace Photos

Aerial photo of Hofburg 1900 
Aerial photo of Hofburg Complex 1900

Hofburg Schweizerhof
Hofburg Schweizerhof Entrance (Swiss Wing)

The Amalienburg
The Amalienburg

Leopoldinischer Trakt
Leopoldinischer Trakt

 The Reichskanzleitrakt
The Reichskanzleitrakt

 Palmenhaus Burggarten 
Schmetterlinghaus (Palmenhaus Burggarten)

Hofburg the Imperial Library
Hofburg the National Library

Spanish Riding School Hofburg
Spanish Riding School Hofburg

10. The Neue Burg (15m), the final stage of the construction of the Hofburg, was begun in 1881 to plans by Gottfried Semper and karl Hasenauer as one wing of the projected ‘Kaiserforum’; it was completed by Friedrich Ohmann and Ludwig Baumann (1853–1935) in 1913, when plans for the other wing were abandoned on the order of Emperor Francis-Joseph.

It has a broad semicircular frontage to the Heldenplatz, with a high rusticated ground floor and an upper floor in the form of a loggia with paired, free-standing columns. The rear façade, articulated by giant half-columns above the rustication and with an exterior staircase, faces the Burggarten.

The Neue Burg now houses the Ephesos Museum, sections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology).

Neu Burg
The Neue Burg (New Palace)