Click for the home page of ThereArePlacesClick for our Travel Planning Articles to learn what you need to know before you go     Austria   

  

    Best Places to Visit
Other Countries
 

 

Vienna, Austria

Flag of Austria

           Introduction  The Hofburg   The Schönbrunn

 

 

 

  

Best Places To Visit in Vienna

Custom Search

Best Palaces

Interior courtyard at the Hofburg with the Amalienburg(and Sisi's apartments) in the background

Although there are several enchanting palaces to explore in Vienna, we recommend visits to the two main palaces of the Habsburgs, which, we believe, should be seen by all visitors to the Imperial City.

The Habsburgs were the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and later the  Monarchs of Austria and Hungary.  In keeping with their elevated status, the Habsburgs constructed palaces that reflected their wealth and power.

Come along as we explore the Hofburg (the Winter Palace), the Schönbrunn (the Summer Palace) and the many delights that can be found on a visit to these ostentatious monuments to the stature of the Habsburgs.

The Hofburg

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 entrance to the Hofburg from the Michaelerplatz (Old City entrance)
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.

The 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 here).

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 Garden ) is a great place for a stroll, especially to  view the exquisite Temple of Theseus .   The Burggarten (the once private garden of the Habsburgs ) is park-like and noted for its statue of Mozart fronted by red plantings in the shape of a G-cleft. 

With the development of the Schönbrunn Palace under Empress Maria Theresa in the early 18th century, the Hofburg became the Habsburg’s Winter Palace and the Schönbrunn served as the Summer Palace.

      The Temple of Theseus in the Volksgarten  Statue of Mozart in the Burg Garden at the Hofburg

Specific details on the Hofburg's many attractions can be found in our detailed guided to the  Hofburg.  We provide detailed overviews of:

The Sisi Museum
The Kaiser Apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph
The Silver Collection
Other Hofburg Attractions (Treasury, Spanish Riding School, Albertina and more)
Household Trivia of the Hofburg

 

The Schönbrunn

            The Schonbrunn Palace as seen from the gardens

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.

Memorial plaque at the Schonbrunn detailing its architectsThe 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. 

          The Naiad Fountain on the Hietzinger-Linden side of the Gardens

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 palace 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 Vienna.

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index  or Googling ThereArePlaces.

 
Custom Search

 

  AddThis Social Bookmark Button

 

 

 

If you are searching for a particular attraction in Vienna, try finding it in our index .  

 

 
Vienna

Getting Started
Best Palaces
Best Churches
Best Music Venues
Best Museums and Galleries
Other Attractions
Best Shopping
Best Cafes
Best Day Trip
History of Vienna

Index of Places To Visit in Vienna

Best Places to Visit in Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Top of Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Top of Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vienna

Getting Started
Best Palaces
Best Churches
Best Music Venues
Best Museums and Galleries
Other Attractions
Best Shopping
Best Cafes
Best Day Trip
History of Vienna

Index of Places To Visit in Vienna

Best Places to Visit in Austria

 

 

 Top of Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Vienna City Hop-on Hop-off Tour

From Viator Tours

     
Austria:   Best Places to Visit in Austria            Other Countries         Top of Page  
About ThereArePlaces       Contact Us       Legal   Privacy Policy    Site Map     Media Center  
Click here to return to ThereArePlaces homepage Click here for information on our copyright.  
ThereArePlaces Home     Destination Guides    Travel Planning Guides