3 THE HOFBURG CASTLE THE CENTER OF THE EMPIRE
From the 13th century to the end of World War I, the Habsburg dynasty1 reigned over their large, multinational empire from Vienna. The names of all the territories that the Habsburgs laid claim to over the centuries were incorporated into the list of imperial titles:
Zita2 , Empress of Austria, crowned Queen of Hungary, Queen of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria;
Queen of Jerusalem;
Archduchess of Austria, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and of
Duchess of Lorraine and Bar, of Salzburg, Steyr, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukovina;
Grand Princess of Transylvania and Margrave of Moravia;
Duchess of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Piacenza and Guastalla; of Auschwitz and Zator, of Teschen, Friuli, Ragusa and Zadar;
Princely Countess of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca;
Princess of Trento and Brixen, Margrave of Istria;
Lady of Trieste, of Kotor and of the Windic March; Grand V)ivode of the Serbian Vbivodship;
Infanta of Spain, Princess of Portugal and Parma…
The epicenter of imperial power was the Hofburg from where the Habsburg ruled the fates of their 51 million subjects.
The Hofburg Castle
Each of the emperors expanded the Hofburg by another new wing. And thus the Hofburg grew to be a city within a city with more than 5,000 people living and working there. Alongside the Vatican and the Louvre, Vienna’s Hofburg is one of the largest royal residential complexes in Europe.
Today numerous museums and imperial collections of international importance can be found in the Hofburg. The private lives of the imperial family had little to do with the orchestration of their official lives. You can find out how the Habsburgs really lived by visiting three of the Hofburg museums: the Imperial Silver Collection3 , the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum.4
The Hofburg is also home to one of the world’s most distinguished treasuries. The Imperial Treasury5 includes:
- – a collection of imperial crowns from the different eras of the Habsburg Empire and other insignia,
- – the famous Holy Lance,
- – gemstones of invaluable worth,
- – an agate dish that was believed to be the Holy Grail for many centuries. These items make even a short visit to the Imperial Treasury of Vienna’s Hofburg worthwhile.
The famous Spanish Riding School6 is a part of the Hofburg complex. Worldwide it is the only riding school where the classical dressage of the Renaissance is still taught in an unaltered style.
Tickets for the Sunday mass in the Hofkapelle or the Royal Court Chapel7 are in high demand. Since the 15th century arguably the world’s most famous boys’ choir, the Vienna Boys’ Choir8 , sings there almost every Sunday.
Map of Vienna – 3 Best Places To Visit In Vienna Photo Gallery
There are many things in Vienna that are as interesting as the Hofburg itself. Luckily many of Vienna’s attractions are concentrated in one small area: Thus the gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral9 , the baroque Belvedere Castle10 and the historical buildings on RingstraBe11 or those built in Viennese Art Nouveau12 style can all be reached by foot on one weekend. And you need no more than eleven minutes by subway to reach Schonbrunn Castle13 from St. Charles’s Church14 .
Let’s start our excursion through imperial Vienna with a tour of the various courtyards of the Hofburg.