It should come as no surprise with Vienna’s royal history that it has some of the best palaces in Europe. One of them is the Baroque masterpiece the Belvedere. Once considered outside the city it is a short walk from the city center in the third district.
The Belvedere Palace was built for a General and art lover, Prince Eugene of Savoy. It was to be his summer residence. The complex was designed Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, known for Baroque style. The complex consists of two palaces, the Orangery, the palace stables, and all linked together by a magnificent garden. Price Eugene’s home which is known as the Lower Belvedere was completed in 1716. The Upper Belvedere (getting it’s name for being on higher ground) was completed in 1723.
After Price Eugene’s death, the complex remained a residence. In 1781, the Belvedere becomes one of the first museums as its impressive art gallery opens to the general public. Former heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand lived here between 1894 and 1914. Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, the event that triggered World War I.
The two palaces sustained damage during World War II air raids and were soon rebuilt after the war. In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty was signed in the Upper Belvedere. After being occupied by Nazi Germany and the Allied powers after World War II, Austria was once again declared a sovereign state.
The Belvedere is a great place to spend some time while in Vienna. The Upper Belvedere contains the permanent collection featuring Klimt’s famous Kiss along with patient’s from the Middle Ages all the way to the present. The palace interior itself is also a treat especially the ground floor hall, the ceremonial staircase, and the marble hall.
The Lower Belvedere and the Orangery contain the temporary exhibitions. The Lower Belvedere also has a Marble Hall and what is called the Grotesque Hall after a popular artistic style of the time. The Prince’s staterooms are also in the Lower Belvedere.
A wonderful garden sits between the upper and lower palace. The Baroque style is defined by its symmetry. Perfectly manicured gardens are laid out along with various pools, fountains, and sculptures. The gardens are terraced and lead you gently down from the Upper to Lower Belvedere. Everything has a purpose and nothing looks out of place. It is the ultimate in man controlling nature.
Visiting The Belvedere
The Belvedere is located within walking distance of the city center or the main station Wein Hauptbahnhof. By U-Bahn (Subway) the nearest station is Südtirolerplatz. By tram or S-Bahn the nearest station is Quartier Belvedere.
The gardens and exterior area are free to the public. Online tickets are available to tour only one of the palace interiors or combo tickets to experience all of them.