Europe, Austria

Imperial grandiosity: The Hapsburg palaces

No Comments 6 August 2010

Imperial grandiosity: The Hapsburg palaces

Reminders of imperial past are never far from those on a Viennese visit. The Monkey spent part of his 2002 and 2003 excursions to Vienna finding out what all the fuss about the Hapsburgs was.


Hofburg, Vienna, Austria
The Hofburg was once the core of the Hapsburg power. This complex of several palaces occupies a central location between the Michaelerplatz, the Volksgarten and the Burggarten, abutting the tight streets of the old city, or Innere Stadt. In this photo, the Monkey sits on a bench on the Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square), a monumental plaza that is part of the Hofburg. The Hapsburg clan began constructing their dynastic home here in the 13th Century, and additions continued right into the 20th Century, when their Empire collapsed. The enormous curved building behind the Monkey is the Neue Hofburg, which was the last palace added to the complex (finished 1914).

When Austria was enjoined to Nazi Germany via the Anschluss of March 1938, the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler, Führer of the German Third Reich, chose the Heldenplatz for a triumphalist address to his newly gained subjects. He spoke from the balcony (above the Monkey’s head) to a crowd of some 250,000 Viennese, proclaiming, “I report before history the entry of my homeland into the German Reich.”

Volksmuseum, Vienna, Austria
The Monkey gets caught up in a scuffle between some Viennese cherubs behind the Neue Hofburg, a monumental 19th Century palace housing a variety of museums. No cherubs or monkeys were harmed in the shooting of this photograph.

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
The Monkey pays a visit to the Schönbrunn Palace, a late 17th Century and early 18th Century Baroque Rococo pile where the Hapsburg royals were fond of summering. Schönbrunn was the Hapsburgs’ response to the French Bourbons’ Palace at Versailles, and boasts some 1440 rooms. To list just three of the many historical events that took place within its walls, it witnessed the royal recital of the six year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1762, saw the end of the Empire with the abdication of Emperor Charles on 11 November 1918, and hosted the Kennedy-Khruschev summit of 1961.

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
The Monkey takes in the “back yard” at the Schönbrunn Palace. The grounds originally belonged to a royal hunting lodge that was destroyed by the Ottomans in their seige of Vienna in 1683 (the same Turkish seiges brought a more welcome result: the coffee for which Vienna is famed). With the construction of the Palace, the architects developed a surrounding Park. It includes the hilltop Gloriette (which houses a café these days), a hedge maze, countless flower beds, fountains, and some of the forests that hid the old hunting lodge.

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
The view from the hill in the elaborate gardens behind the Schönbrunn Palace. The common people’s Vienna is visible in the distance.

Imperial embellishment, Vienna, Austria
Vienna has lots of imperial decorative touches scattered about. Here the Monkey gets a bit too close for comfort to some baroque spikes on a fence in the Heldenplatz, a central square. The 100 meter spire of the late 19th Century Rathaus is visible in the background.

Cherubs, Vienna, Austria
The Monkey has yet another run-in with the aggressive cherubs that populate central Vienna.



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Austria

   FAST FACTS


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Population:

8,205,533 (2008)

Land area:

82,444 sq. km.

Capital:

Vienna (pop. 1,600,000; 2005)

Economy:

In 2006, Austria ranked 17th in the UNDP Human Development Index and 23rd in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $39,131.37. Public debt accounts for 59.1 percent of total GDP, while 5.9 percent of Austrians are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):

German

Monkey's name:

Der Affe (dare off-uh), Das Kleine Äffchen (dahs kline-uh eff-i-en)

Fun fact:

When would-be Kaiser of the Austro-Hungarian empire Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in the streets of Sarajevo (the main city of Austro-Hungary-annexed Bosnia) on June 28 1914, he shrugged off his wounds, saying “Es ist nichts!” (“This is nothing!”). He couldn’t have been more wrong: not only would he and his wife be dead shortly thereafter, but only a month later Austria-Hungary would enter the Great War that would see the empire’s final undoing.



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