Belvedere – the impressive palace complex in Vienna
The Belvedere Vienna, which is a huge palace and park complex, is one of the most interesting sights in the Austrian capital. From the Italian word “belvedere” is translated as “beautiful view”. And you know, this fully corresponds to reality, because from the vast palace possessions spread out on the slopes of the mountain, there is a wonderful panorama of the streets of the Austrian capital and the Church of St. Stephen.
The structure of the complex
The Belvedere complex, often called the Austrian Versailles, consists of several parts, each with its own unique atmosphere. Take a virtual tour of Vienna’s main historical monument!
The Golden Cabinet
The history of Lower Belvedere might not have started if not for the French Revolution that forced the king and his relatives to seek a safe haven. It was then, back in 1714, that the Holy Roman Generalissimo Eugene of Savoy commissioned the architect Johann von Hildebrandt to build a new castle. The building turned out to be magnificent! The Prince’s state bedroom, the Mirror Room, the huge dining room, the Golden Study, the Marble Gallery… These places are still considered the main attractions of the Lower Palace. A few years later the unique art collection of Emperor Joseph II. was moved here, which made the Belvedere Museum in Vienna one of the most visited places in Austria.
At the moment several Baroque and Medieval exhibitions are on display in the rooms of the castle. There are also frequent temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. Even if you are not interested in painting, you should come here just to enjoy the original setting of the palace with its stucco reliefs, murals and frescoes by A. Martino depicting the Prince of Savoy as Apollo. The real gem of the Lower Castle is the room of Grotesques, decorated in the Roman style and decorated with allegorical sculptures with skewed faces.
The Upper Belvedere in Vienna, which was not completed until 1722, is the former representative residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy and one of the oldest museums on the planet. Visitors are impressed not only by the majestic facades of the castle, decorated with huge sculptures, but also by the permanent exhibitions of works of Austrian painters of the 19th and 20th centuries (Monet, Beckman, Van Gogh, Renoir, Schiele, Kokoschka and others). The main highlight of this museum is a collection of paintings by Gustav Klimt, headed by the world-famous “Kiss”. Experts claim that the total value of the collection of paintings in the Upper Belvedere in Vienna is estimated at billions of euros.
Because it was here that balls and masquerades were once held, the central entrance to the palace passes through an openwork wrought iron gate guarded by statues of lions with coats of arms on their feet and sculptures of cupids. The entrance alley, made in the form of a three-arch pavilion, is surrounded by dense greenery, behind which you can hear the splash of a small lake. The stunning appearance of the building is complemented by lush interior decoration. But most of all – it almost merges with the surrounding nature. To emphasize the proximity of Upper Belvedere to the surrounding landscape, the architect has made the roof in the form of rounded multilevel tents reminiscent of the surrounding hills.
It should also be noted that this part of the complex is associated with several historical episodes. So in 1896 in one of the rooms of the palace the famous composer and conductor A. Bruckner died, and almost 60 years after that event, on May 15, 1955 in the front room, covered with red marble, an agreement was signed that ended the long German occupation and marked the beginning of Austria’s independence.
The cascading three-tiered park, which was the first Alpine plantation in Europe, was laid out in 1803 on the initiative of Archduke Johann. It is a symmetrical composition, made in the best traditions of old France and connecting the Upper Belvedere with the Lower. The author of this creation was the Bavarian architect Dominique Girard.
The main feature of the Belvedere park is a huge number of terraces, ponds, hedges, fountains, working from April to October, and decorative compositions, decorated with sculptures of nymphs, newts, sphinxes and other mythical creatures. In addition, its territory is planted with more than 4000 alpine plants, creating an original pattern on the lawns.
Nowadays this is a favorite resting place not only for visitors, but also for Viennese themselves. The locals come here with their families after a hard day’s work. Some picnic on the spacious green lawns, others simply stroll through the park alleys admiring the graceful architecture and the beautiful landscape.
The Orangery of the Belvedere in Vienna used to be a simple winter garden on the grounds of the Lower Palace. It was heated during the winter, and when summer came, the roof and south façade were removed so that the orange trees could enjoy the warm rays of the sun. At the time, Prince Eugene’s greenhouse was a masterpiece of carpentry, because unlike other similar structures, it had a convenient sliding structure.
Unfortunately, when the Generalissimo died, the orange trees were moved to Schoenbrunn, and the building itself was converted for domestic purposes. The situation changed only in 1918, when the works of major Austrian modernists, expressionists and impressionists were exhibited there. And so the former greenhouse became the National Gallery of Belvedere in Vienna, attracting visitors from all over the world.
The castle’s stables deserve no less attention. Once upon a time they held horses, now they house the exhibition of the famous German architect, Kühn Malvezzi. The collection of this outstanding master has more than 150 works – from late Gothic panels to a Romanesque crucifix. But its main treasure is the altarpiece revealing Renaissance forms. In addition, the former stables are regularly used for teaching exhibitions dedicated to a particular art object and closely linked to the activities of the research center.
The Belvedere Palace in Vienna is famous not only for its rich collection of artistic paintings, but also for its unique research center for the study and preservation of outstanding works of Austrian art. The center’s holdings include an enormous number of objects from various historical periods (from the 14th century to the present day). For a small fee, visitors can explore the collection, talk to the staff of the archive, browse the local library and view photographs from different eras of the Belvedere.
How to get there?
The Palace complex Belvedere in Vienna is located at Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Wien, Austria. You can reach it in two ways. Consider each of them.
Way 1: To the Lower Castle:
Way 2. To the Upper Castle:
- Streetcar D to Schloss Belvedere;
- Streetcar No. 18, O, bus 69A or suburban train to Quartier Belvedere;
- From the Hauptbahnhof subway station on the U1 line, walk no more than a quarter of an hour.
The Castle Belvedere in Vienna is open to visitors during specific hours.
- Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun. – from 9.00 to 18.00;
- Fri. – from 9.00 to 21.00.
Lower castle, conservatory:
- Mon-Thu, Sat-Sun. – from 9.00 to 18.00;
- Fri. – From 10.00 to 21.00.
- Daily from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Tues. and Thu. – 12.00 to 17.00;
- Wednesdays and Fridays. – From 10.00 to 15.00.
Entrance to the palace complex is carried out on several types of tickets.
For more information, visit the castle’s official website: www.belvedere.at/en.
Deciding to visit Belvedere Castle in Vienna, take note of a few useful tips.
- The complex covers a huge area, so it is better to leave unnecessary things in the checkroom (one for each castle). The cost of the service is only 50 cents. In return, you will be given a special receipt giving you the right for free storage of clothes and souvenirs in the second dressing room.
- You don’t have to leave the palace to relax, drink coffee and eat. You can refresh yourself in one of the local cafes and luxury restaurants with an open gallery. By the way, it is from the terrace you get the best photos.
- The castle is good at any time of the year, but the best time to visit it is spring and summer. The park during this time is beautiful!
- To travel on public transport, it is worth buying a daily pass. So you can visit not only the castle itself, but also other attractions in Vienna (eg, Prater Park, Hundertwasser House or Schönbrunn).
- Those planning to visit the palace stables need to pre-register.
- It is better to buy tickets online. In this case, they remain valid for six months from the date of purchase. In this case, the date of visit remains open. A maximum of 30 at a time can be ordered.
Belvedere Vienna is really a wonderful place, the memory of which will surely remain in the heart of every tourist. Everyone can find something for the soul here. Lovers of art – unique collections in museum halls, nature lovers – freshness of fountains and beauty of alpine flora, lovers of royal balls – rich palace halls, where people of blue blood shone. The atmosphere of the castle will take you back to wonderful times from which you never want to come back.
Author: Olga Musienko
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