The Hofburg was the primary palace of the Habsburgs during their over
six-hundred years of monarchy, which ended in 1918, when it was
one of the many casualties of World War I. The court at the Hofburg was
long regarded as one of the most important and powerful centers of European
politics and international intrigue. Through the judicious use of marriage and the determined use of might, the
Habsburgs eventually extended their empire across most of Europe.
The Hofburg complex of buildings, a small city really, was constructed over
a span of centuries. It appears that successive rulers added a wing,
facade, or an addition to the complex, which eventually was comprised of over 2600
rooms, many of which were used by one emperor, but not by the next.
buildings were impressive as palaces, but were, also designed to serve as fortifications
ringed by complex gates and thick
walls that served as defensive bastions. Invasions by the
Ottoman Turks, (twice), Napoleon and others taught the Habsburgs the value of
building fortresses that masqueraded as palaces.
While some of the buildings in the Hofburg now serve as the center of
government for the Democratic Republic of Austria, most of the complex has
been converted into museums celebrating the Habsburgs, their treasures and
their collections of "curiosities" gathered over the centuries.
It is within the Habsburg that you will find the Kaiser
Apartments, the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Silver Collection.
Of course, it also includes the Habsburg
Treasury, the Spanish Riding School (think Lipizzan/Lipizzaner horses),
the Albertina Art Museum and the Neue Hofburg along
with the Heldenplatz, which
hosts the reading room of the Austrian National Library. In addition,
the complex features a number
of interesting museums too numerous to mention, but we note that the museums on Ephesus, Papyrus, Arms and
Armor are exceptionally interesting.
The National Bibliothek (Library)
with its Grand Room designed by Fisher von Erlach is stunning and not to be missed. Other
visitors may be attracted to the Burgkapelle (Chapel of the Imperial Palace
) where the Vienna Boys Choir
performs at mass every Sunday in season. If you are interested in attending
a mass performed by the Vienna’s Boys Choir, you will need to make
reservations months in advance, as this is a popular venue.
In addition, the excellent
Museum of Fine Arts and
Museum of Natural History
, located in the Marie-Theresien-Platz,
are also part of the Hofburg and sit near the Museum Quarter, where you will
find several additional museums. (We cover the best Museums in Vienna
All of the beauty is not indoors, as you can also visit two nicely designed gardens on either side of the Habsburg. The Volksgarten (the People’s
) is a
great place for a stroll, especially to view the exquisite Temple of Theseus
The Burggarten (the once private garden of the Habsburgs
park-like and noted for its statue of Mozart fronted by red plantings in the shape of a
With the development of the
Palace under Empress Maria Theresa in the early 18th century, the Hofburg became the Habsburg’s
Winter Palace and the Schönbrunn served as the
Specific details on the Hofburg's many attractions can be found in our
detailed guided to the
We provide detailed overviews of:
The Sisi Museum
The Kaiser Apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph
The Silver Collection
(Treasury, Spanish Riding School, Albertina and more)
Household Trivia of the Hofburg
The Schönbrunn Palace has a shorter history than
the Hofburg, but exceeds it in beauty and opulence. The Schönbrunn
began its role as the Summer Palace for the Habsburgs in the 18th century when the Empress Maria Theresa took an
interest in revitalizing and extending the property, which was formerly a
grand hunting lodge.
The Schönbrunn Palace and Park is a UNESCO World
Heritage site that is internationally famed as an example of a Baroque
“princely residential ensemble.” The property includes the extravagant
palace (and its well-preserved rooms), an extensive park with fountains,
statues, Gloriette, gardens and Zoological Garden (claimed to be the world’s first (1762)
and oldest zoo), as well as its numerous outbuildings capable of housing the Schönbrunn’s one-thousand workers.
Visiting the Schönbrunn is one of the highlights of a trip to Vienna and
you should budget most of a day for a tour of the
and the many attractions in the park. For more details on the Palace,
photos of the palace and grounds, as well as some notes about choosing a
tour, click here for a
Detailed Tour of the Schönbrunn Palace.
Next - explore our menu on the right hand edge of this page to find other
types of sightseeing in Vienna
If you want to find out about a specific attraction and know
its name, look
for it in our
index to the best places to visit in
If you need information about another travel destination, try
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.