The Hapsburgs and Vienna — A Photoblog

Triggerfish Writing
Travelling Blog
Published in
7 min readJan 16, 2024

The House of Hapsburg, an initially nondescript family from the mountains of Switzerland, rose up to become rulers of the Austro-Hungarian and Spanish Empires, and of various other parts of Europe for 700 years. They made Vienna their seat of power from the 13th century onwards. This is a photoblog on their presence in Vienna.

(Read about or watch video of the history of the Hapsburgs)

The Hofburg is a former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty in Austria, located in the centre of Vienna. It was built in the 13th century and expanded several times afterwards. It historically served as the imperial winter residence because Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Hapsburgs. Since 1946, it is the official residence and workplace of the president of Austria. The palace complex faces the Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square) that was ordered under the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph 1.

It has been the seat of government since 1279 and has been expanded over the centuries to include various residences (with the Amalienburg and the Albertina), the imperial chapel ( Hofkapelle or Burgkapelle), the imperial library ( Hofbibliothek), the treasury ( Schatzkammer), the Burgtheater, the Spanish Riding School ( Hofreitschule), the imperial mews ( Stallburg and Hofstallungen).

Images: Triggerfish Writing

Rising from the heart of Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral reigns supreme as both the city’s religious anchor and its most cherished symbol. Its soaring presence, a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, tells tales of a rich past. Built upon the foundations of earlier churches, it witnessed history unfold from Duke Rudolf IV’s vision in the 14th century to the Habsburg dynasty’s rise and fall.

Within its hallowed halls, faith and art intertwine. Sunlight dances through stained glass windows, illuminating stories of saints and sinners. Vaulted ceilings whisper prayers echoed throughout centuries. Outside, its iconic multicolored tiled roof, depicting Austria’s coat of arms, paints a vibrant tapestry against the sky.

Images: Triggergfish Writing

Beyond its architectural glory, St. Stephen’s Cathedral embodies the soul of Vienna. It has stood through times of triumph and turmoil, offering solace and hope to generations. More than just a landmark, it is a timeless treasure, a testament to the power of faith and beauty that continues to captivate hearts.

Rising amidst Vienna’s architectural tapestry, the Belvedere palaces once served as a luxurious summer retreat for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736), a figure etched in the city’s triumphant past. Master architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt built the palaces in the early 18th century, blending the grandeur of the Upper and Lower Belvedere with the whimsical charm of the Orangery and Palace Stables. This Baroque masterpiece arose during a golden age for Vienna, then both the imperial crown jewel and seat of the Habsburgs. Prince Eugene’s decisive victories against the Ottoman Empire had ushered in this era of prosperity, leaving its mark not only on the battlefield but also on the city’s skyline.

Images: Triggerfish Writing

The palace complex now houses the Belvedere museum, housing major art collections by famous artists such as Gustav Klimt. Klimt’s famous painting The Kiss is housed there.

Image: Triggerfish Writing

The grounds of the palaces are set on a gentle gradient and include decorative tiered fountains and cascades, Baroque sculptures, and majestic wrought iron gates. The Belvedere Gardens were designed in the formal French manner with clipped hedges, gravelled walks and jeux d’eau by Dominique Girard.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna on the Vienna Ring Road, and is crowned with an octagonal dome. The term Kunsthistorisches Museum applies to both the institution and the main building. It is the largest art museum in the country and one of the most important museums worldwide.

Images: Triggerfish Writing

Emperor Franz Joseph I opened the facility around 1891 at the same time as the Natural History Museum which has a similar design and is directly across Maria-Theresien-Platz. The emperor commissioned the two Ringstraße museums between 1871 and 1891 to create a suitable home for the Habsburgs’ formidable art collection and to make it accessible to the general public.

Both Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Natural History Museum buildings are rectangular, with symmetrical Renaissance Revival façades of sandstone lined with large arched windows on the main levels and topped with an octagonal dome 60 metres (200 ft) high. The interiors of the museums are lavishly decorated with marble, stucco ornamentation, gold-leaf, and murals. The grand stairway features paintings by Gustav Klimt, Ernst Klimt, Franz Matsch, Hans Makart and Mihály Munkácsy and many others.

The rare treasures that were compiled by the Imperial House of Habsburg over the course of centuries are housed at various museums in Vienna. Here are a few examples. The marble and other statues of Hapsburg emperors below, depict the distinctive Hapsburg jaw, lips and nose.

Top left Mozart Memorial, Bottom Bellini Salt Cellar. Images: Triggerfish Writing

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I am a Chartered Environmentalist from the Royal Society for the Environment, UK and co-owner of DoLocal Digital Marketing Agency Ltd, with a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University, an MBA in Finance, and a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics. I am passionate about science, history and environment and love to create content on these topics.

Originally published at https://www.360onhistory.com on January 16, 2024.

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Triggerfish Writing
Travelling Blog

I write on science, history, nature, climate change, feminism, religion & politics. My members only stories on science & history are free on 360onhistory.com.