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The Hofburg Imperial Palace is not to be confused with the Hofburg at Innsbruk.

Together with the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna and the Hofburg in Innsbruk, the Hofburg Palace in Vienna forms one of the three most important cultural buildings in Austria.

The significance of these three Royal residences of the Habsburg dynasty and monarchs, cannot be underestimated. Under their rule, Austria was at the height of its power and influence throughout Europe and commanded trade routes to the east and new worlds, as well as in control of the hugely powerful, successful and public supported Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1918 when the Monarchy came to an end.


Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna

Outline Plan Hofburg Imperial Palace

1 Swiss Wing

2a Augustinian Church

2b Augustinian Monastery

3 Stallburg

4 Amalienburg

5 Leopold Wing

6 Redouten Wing

7 Winter Riding School

8 Imperial Library

9 Augustinian Wing

10 Archduke Albrecht Palace

11 Imperial Chancellory Wing

12 Festival Hall Wing

13 St. Michael's Wing

14 Neue Burg Wing

15 Corps de Logis

16 Palm House or Butterfly House

A Internal Castle Square

B Ball House Square

C St. Michael's Square

D Swiss Court

E Joseph Square

F Albertina Square

G Castle Garden

H Heldenplatz

Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna from air Birds eye view Hofburg Palace Vienna

Neue Burg Wing

Hofburg Imperial Palace buildings.

The gardens occupy further territory and are maintained to impressive status which draws in hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

The Vienese Hofburg Palace had been a seat of power since the early constructions of the original castle in the 13th century, with the area of Hofburg having been documented as a seat of government from 1279.

It is known that the Hofburg Palace in Vienna was in constant use as an official Royal residence from 1438 until 1583, then again from 1612 until 1806, after which it remained in use as the seat of the Austrian Emperor up until 1918.

Although the Monarchy ended in 1918, the Hofburg Palace in Vienna remains to this day the Official seat of the President of Austria. Far from being a vast museum, the Hofburg Palace is both home and the place of employment for approximately 5,000 people as of 2016.

The original parts of the Hofburg Palace, or rather the castle from which the Hofburg Palace evolved, was constructed either by King Ottakar II of Bohemia, or by the last of the Babenbergers.

The House of Babenberg was the ruling noble family of Austria from 976 to 1246.(Friedrich der Streitbare) Frederick II "the Quarrelsome" 25 April 1211 - 15 June 1246 would be the 5th and final Babenburgs ruler as Duke of Austria and Styria , but was killed in battle (constantly  in disputes with the kings of Hungary, Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor), bringing to an end the male line of the Babenbergs, and therefore extinction to the Babenbergers

Night view Hofburg Imperial Palace Neue Burg Wing Hofburg Imperial Palace with garden view

There are 3 sections relating to the Swiss at the Hofburg Palace

The Swiss Wing - The Swiss Court - The Swiss Gate  

It is believed that most are so called after the Swiss Guards, who served as the palace guards.

The Swiss Guards have sinSwiss Gate Imperial Palace Hofburg Viennace the second half of the 1400's served as mercenaries across Europe to various Royal Courts, as well as Palaces and wealthy households. They held a reputation for centuries as superbly trained and effective soldiers. Switzerland was a poor country and held few prospects for young men, especially to make their fortunes, and so they would join the Swiss Guard and receive the level of training and military tactics that would see them undefeated (when fighting as a force) until 1515 by the Germans, who took the Swiss Guard knowledge and superior tactics, then improved on them!

The Swiss Guard still remain on active duty since 1506

Originally the castle from the 13th century formed a square, which today is said to correspond to what is known as the 'Swiss Court'. The heart of the medieval castle has been retained to degrees, however, the four corner towers and the drawbridge as well as most of the moat was inevitably destroyed over numerous developments throughout the centuries.

The oldest part of the Hofburg Palace is the 'Alte Burg' or Old Fortress, which has since the 18th century been known as the 'Swiss Wing', and houses the Swiss Gate.Its appearance is somewhat deceptive of age, since following the defeat of the barbaric Islamic Ottomans in 1683, the facade of the fortress received a major makeover in the Baroque style, complete with stucco flowers, sculptures, golden crowns and iconic symbolisms of Austria and the Habsburgs.

It would not be until the end of the 19th century that the old palace theatre was demolished and Ferdinand Kirschner would complete the St Michael Wing, named after the church it faces, to Fischer von Erlach's original designs.

At the start of the 19th century Ludwig Montoyer built the Hall of Ceremonies which became permanently used for all ceremonial events of the imperial dynasty and which even these days holds the famous Viennese Balls.

Between 1723 and 1735 the Court Library was built to house the precious collection of books owned by the Habsburgs, now called the Austrian National Library.

Another architect, Lukas von Hildebrandt, believed that he would inherit the role of court architect for new constructions, whilst allowing Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach to complete his fathers designs. However, as Lukas von Hildebrandt began designing the new Imperial Chancellery Wing, which initially housed the chancellery of the Holy Roman Empire, it would be Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach who would be commissioned at the personal behest of the Emperor. The wing was completed in 1730.

Emperor Leopold I, had the Swiss Wing joined to the Amalia Residence by building a connecting wing between 1668 and 1680, naming it the Leopold Wing. This wing was occupied by Empress Maria Theresa during the 18th century.

Following her death, the truly  official

In 1559 work commenced on the Stallburg a new palace residence.  This section of the palace held the stables of the Lipizzan Stallions since 1729, but Charles VI commissioned Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach to design building of the Winter Riding School which was completed in 1735

The world famous Spanish Riding School is home to the Lipizzan Stallions at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, and was named as the Spanish Riding School due to the heritage of the horses, which the Habsburgs helped develop from the 16th century.

It is still possible to see the horses (not Mondays) at either the morning training or their official performances in the Winter Riding School.

Within the Swiss Wing are found the Imperial Music Chapel, a Gothic Chapel from the 15th century, the Treasury which houses the Imperial Insignia of the Austrian Empire and that of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Swiss Gate was buHofburg Imperial Palace Chapelilt in 1552, designed by Pietro Ferabosco, it is only one of a rare few Renaissance monuments which survive in Vienna.

The Swiss Court was built under the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I (1793-1875) in the Renaissance Style.

As with most of the Hofburg Imperial Palace complex, the Palace Chapel remains in use and active. The Vienna Boys' Choir can be founding singing there on Sundays at High Mass in the Palace Chapel which was built in 1449.

As is the case with most ruling dynasties with a firm power base, the official residence grew and was developed with each generation and with each new ruler wanting to leave their distinctive marks on such sprawling buildings.

The Hofburg Imperial Palace had developed into what many often refer to as a 'City within a City', a huge complex of 18 wings, 19 courtyards, 2,600 rooms, an Imperial Chapel, the Austrian National Library, the Imperial stables and the Spanish Riding School, plus the Hofburg Congress Centre and all over a space of 240,000m².

The Habsburgs took over rule in 1278 (32 years after Frederick II) of what was Austria, and then from 1452 they became Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.

The current Austrian National flag originates from the coats of arms of the Babengers.

Babenger coat of arms with Austrian National flag colours

Babenger Coat of Arms

Grand flag of Austro Hungarian Empire Austrian flag using Habsburg colours Austrian National Flag

1230 - 1804

Austrian National Flag

1804 - 1869

Austrian Empire Flag

(Habsburg Monarchy colours)

1869 - 1918

Austro-Hungarian Empire

Painting showing walled Vienna 1548

1548 Hofburg in the newly walled Vienna

Central is St Stephen's Cathedral

Swiss Gate

Portrait Ferdinand I Austria

Ferdinand I of Austria

Lipizzan Stalions Winter Riding School Hofburg Palace Vienna Lipizzan Stalions inside Winter Riding School Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna Austria

Winter Riding School home of the Lipizzan Stallions

Winter Riding School original design drawings Lipizzan stalion perfoming Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna Austria Performance Lipizzan Stalions Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna Amaliaburg building Hofburg Palace Vienna

extravagant apartments were used as State Rooms up until the end of the monarchy itself. From 1946 it has housed the office of the Austrian Federal President.

Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was the court architect in the 18th century and given the commission of designing numerous extensions, which he did is the largely Baroque style.

Born July 27th 1656

Died April 5th  1723)

After his death in 1723, the construction work was overseen by his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach

Born September 13th 1693

Died June 29th -1742

Portrait Johann Bernar  Fischer von Erlachortrait Portrait Joseph Emanuel Fischeer von Erlach

Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach

Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach

Portrait Lukas von Hildebrandt

Lukas von Hildebrandt

Imperial Chancery Wing Hofburg Palace Vienna

Imperial Chancellery Wing

National Library Hofburg Palace Vienna

Austrian National Library.

Following the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Chancellery was converted into residential suites for the imperial family and would be occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph from the mid 19th century.

Redouten Wing Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna

Redouten wing

Imperial Library Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna Austria

The old Imperial Library

Redouten Hall Hofburg Palace Vienna

Redouten Hall

Hall of Ceremonies Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna Austria Hall of Ceremonies Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna Portrait Photograph adult Franz Joseph I Austria




Born August 18th 1830

Died November 21st 1916

Photograph portrait Franz Joseph I Austria Portrait Franz Joseph I Austria young man

Franz Joseph I of Austria

Emperor of Austria

King of Hungary and Croatia

King of Bohemia

The Amalienburg (Amalia Residence) was erected as a detatched building in the 16th century and was named after Empress Wilhelmine Amalia, who used it as her dower residence after the death of husband, Emperor Joseph I.

TClock Tower Amaliaburg Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna Austriahis was last used as a residency by Empress Elisabeth, whose apartments re today open to the public.

The building has a special attraction as it holds an astronomical clock built into the facade of the building, complete with sundial and a sphere showing the phases of the moon, which remains in working order.

Clock within Amaliaburg clock tower Hofburg Palace Vienna Austria Amaliaburg clock tower showing moon phases Sundial Amaliaburg clock tower Imperial Hofburg Palace Vienna

Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Wien, Austria

The Michaelertor


Outline Plan Hofburg Imperial Palace 1835 Imperial Library Hofburg Palace Vienna

Michaelerplatz is dominated by the imposing and impressive neo-Baroque Michaelertor, acting as the entrance gate to the Imperial Palace complex.

The Michaelertrakt is one of the most exiting wings of the Hofburg imperial palace with a huge dome.

It was originally designed in the 1720s by Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, but the project stalled and it wouldn't be until 1888 that it was picked up again with Austrian architect Ferdinand Kirschner taking the original Joseph Emanuel von Erlach design and completing at intended originally, although almost 200 years late. The building of the wing was finally completed in 1893.

At the centre of the wing can be found the vast entrance of Michaelertor, which is the main gated entrance to the Hofburg Imperial Palace complex. As this is the main entrance, it takes advantage by having huge sculptures with fountains portraying the might of Austria on land and on sea, as well as of Hercules.

Sculpture and fountain, the Mastery of the Land designed in 1897 by Edmund Hellmer and symbolizes the Austrian army.

Sculpture and fountain, the Mastery of the Sea designed in 1895 by Rudolf Weyr and symbolizes the Austrian naval power.

Mastery of Sea Sculptures Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna

Mastery of the Sea

Mastery of Land Sculptures Hofburg Imperial Palace Vienna

Mastery of the Land

Hercules Sculptures either side of entrance gate

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