Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna
The Hofburg is the famous Imperial Palace in Vienna. For almost 600 years it was the residence of the Habsburg dynasty, which ruled Austria until the end of World War I. Many historic European events were held here.
An interesting fact – now it is the official residence of the Federal President of Austria. Although, to be honest, this position is more nominal than managerial.
Hofburg is not an ordinary palace, it is a palace architectural complex. And one of the largest in the world.
Heldenplatz square is the largest in the Hofburg palace complex
Its uniqueness lies in the mixture of architectural styles. Here you will see more than 700 years of architectural history. Almost every Austrian ruler tried to add various rooms to the palace or make some alterations and additions.
Coat of Arms of the Austrian Empire in the Hofburg
Hofburg Palace appeared on the site of the medieval castle at the end of the 13th century. Since then, it has been continually expanded and enlarged. As a result, today this majestic palace complex shows us the incredible size and variety of architectural styles. Here you will find Gothic and Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, and even elements of Classicism.
The Burgapelle (Royal Chapel) is the oldest part of the palace. It dates back to the 13th century. Despite its advanced age, this landmark is still accessible to the public. It is here that the famous Vienna Boys Choir sings. You can hear it during Sunday church services.
The Royal Chapel – Burzhkapelle
The Hofburg – including all of its squares, buildings, and gardens – encompasses a sizeable area of 240,000 m2 . There are 18 wings, 19 courtyards and as many as 2,600 rooms. Some 5,000 people still live and work here.
Central entrance to the Hofburg from Michaelerplatz
Visitors have three options for touring the Hofburg Palace. These are the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Silver Collection. Each of them can be seen individually or as part of a single comprehensive tour, which, by the way, will cost 25% cheaper.
Of the rooms available to tourists, the apartments of Kaiser Franz Josef and his wife Elisabeth of Bavaria are definitely worth mentioning.
Franz Josef Apartment
Most of the interiors remain unchanged from the days when dukes and kaisers used to walk through the palace.
Highlights include the Dining Room, known for its lavish decoration and Flemish master paintings depicting the exploits of Hercules (better known as Hercules in the West) and the Round Room with its exquisite tapestries.
A model of the Hofburg with its many buildings and plazas can be seen in the Guard Room.
A mock-up of the Hofburg palace complex
And the chandelier made of Bohemian crystal is worth seeing in the Great Auditorium – the hall for receiving the emperor.
The crystal chandelier in the Audience Hall
Also of interest is the bust of Field Marshal Josef Radetzky in the Study. Radetzky was one of the few people who could visit the ruler unannounced.
Elisabeth’s apartments include her sumptuous drawing room, which is considered the most beautiful in the Hofburg.
Another attraction of the Hofburg is the Grand Salon. There is an excellent collection of Louis XIV furniture and several porcelain vases from the legendary manufactory of the French city of Serves. There is also a collection of landscapes and a marble statue of Napoleon’s sister.
Also visit the Alexander Apartments. It got its name in honor of the Russian Tsar Alexander I. He stayed here during the Congress of Vienna.
Alexander I’s apartments in the Hofburg
This part of the palace is dedicated to Empress Elisabeth, often called Sisi.
The Sisi Museum offers a fascinating tour of 19th-century aristocratic life. More than 300 of Elizabeth’s personal belongings are on display in the museum. In addition to the usual everyday items such as gloves, umbrellas, and gowns, you will see the empress’ death mask and the original death certificate here.
Elizabeth’s personality was quite extraordinary. She was incredibly natural, which was not much approved in high society. The future empress was born into a very noble family in Bavaria, but she could play quietly with ordinary children. It is said that it was this spontaneity that attracted Franz Josef in this rather pleasant girl.
It should be noted that Elisabeth of Bavaria was a very attractive lady
After the engagement, Elisabeth quickly caught up with her studies and later took part in politics.
Rumor has it that for all her brilliance, wealth, and power, she was not exactly a happy woman. Rumor has it that she even longed for death. This happened in September 1898 on the promenade of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, where Elisabeth was being treated. The anarchist Luigi Lucheni tracked down Sisi, and with one precise blow he stabbed the empress through the heart.
In this exhibit you will also see the dress she wore after arriving in Austria in 1854, the royal attire in which she was crowned, and the black coat she wore on her last day of life.
Elisabeth of Bavaria’s gowns.
This is more than 7,000 pieces, including official and everyday tableware from the Imperial Court.
Among the many treasures in the Silver Collection you will see beautiful 18th-century porcelain from East Asia and the silver service of Charles VI’s wife Elisabeth-Christine.
The most notable part of this exhibition is the centerpiece of the dining table. This gilded bronze masterpiece stretches a full 10 meters. It was made in Milan by Luigi Manfredini as a gift for the coronation of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria in 1838.
There are not even enough words and epithets to describe it, just look at it.
In addition, the Meissen service of 1775, the Vienna service of the 19th century, and the English Minton porcelain service of 1851 are worth noting.
Minton English porcelain service
Be sure to make your way to the court kitchen to see the flip side of the imperial banquets. Original copper pots, various vessels and old teapots are on display here. All of these were used to serve the court staff, which numbered up to 5,000 people.
Tour of the Hofburg
Various tours are available for you – group and private. By the way, the cost of the tour includes a free audio guide.
Also worth considering is one of the evening or themed tours, for example on the topics of “daily imperial life,” “state banquets,” and “the life of Empress Elisabeth (Sisi).
One popular tour includes an evening with the Vienna Hofburg Orchestra, where works by Mozart and Strauss are played right in the palace.
One of the halls of the Hofburg Palace you will visit
Where to stay near the Imperial Palace Hofburg
- Hotel Sans Souci Wien – Premium hotel, luxury design, indoor pool and spa
- Hotel Kaiserhof Wien – medium price, quiet location, buffet breakfast
- Hotel Das Tyrol – budget hotel, spa and sauna.
- Kolpinghaus Wien-Zentral – budget hotel, multilingual staff, free breakfast and Wi-Fi
How to get to the Hofburg
The Hofburg is within walking distance of Vienna’s center and its many tourist attractions. For example, the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral is only 600 meters to the east. The palace is therefore quite accessible on foot.
- Bus – Routes 2A and 3A, stop Hofburg
- Streetcar – routes 1, 2, D and J, stop Burgring, then walk about 600 metres north
- The nearest subway station is Herrengasse (line U3)
Address: Hofburg Palace, Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna.
For more information, visit the official website of the Hofburg.
The Hofburg in Vienna
Adults: 16 Euro (with audioguide); 20 Euro (with guided tour). Children (6-18 years old): 10 Euro (with audioguide); 12 Euro (with guided tour). Students (19-25 years old): 15 Euros (with audio guide); 19 Euros (with guided tour). Disabled: €15 (with audio guide); €19 (with guided tour). School groups (ages 6-18): 7.50 Euros (with audio guide); 9.50 Euros (with guided tour).
From 1804 to 1918 the Hofburg served as residence of Austrian emperors and was the center of secular and political life of the country. Since 1918, the palace complex is owned by the Austrian Republic. Today, only a part of the Hofburg is open to visitors.
One of the largest palace complexes in the world began under construction in the XIII century, the building works lasted almost until the XX century. The Hofburg was the residence and center of power of the Habsburg dynasty until 1918.
Today the majestic Hofburg palace and park complex has 19 palaces and 18 buildings that were built at different times and in different architectural styles, among which can be seen Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque. On the territory of the Hofburg there are numerous museums with unique collections, Spanish Riding School, the Congress Center, the residence of the Federal President of Austria, as well as the historic Heldenplatz. The palace is surrounded by two beautiful parks – the Burggarten and the Volksgarten.
The Hofburg covers an area of 240,000 square meters, which is adjacent to the Heldenplatz and Josefplatz squares, the Burggarten and Volksgarten parks.
Audio guides are available in 13 languages: Chinese, German, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Czech and Hungarian. To avoid waiting in line for an audio guide, you can download an oral audio guide for free on your cell phone or iPod.
In the heart of the Imperial Palace there is a Hofburg restaurant, which offers local cuisine. Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
It is forbidden to take pictures in the Hofburg Palace, as well as to bring animals and large suitcases.
The Hofburg has a total of three museums on its grounds: the Sissi Museum, the Treasury and the Imperial Chambers. Collections of all three museums can be seen with a single ticket. When you purchase a ticket to the three museums, you can take an official audio guide of the museum exhibits at no extra charge.
The Sissi Museum was opened in 2005 on the 150th anniversary of her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I. The museum tells the story of the life of the great empress Elisabeth of Bavaria, who was called Sissi in the family circle. The museum features exhibits of her personal belongings, of which there are about 300, including jewelry, umbrellas, fans, gloves, articles of clothing, cosmetics, there is even an original death certificate and her reconstructed dress that Elisabeth wore at the Coronation.
The Sissy Museum makes it possible to learn about the unusual fate of the empress, understand her enigmatic personality and see her personal belongings live.
The Imperial Suite has 24 rooms in rococo style. The last monarch of Austria, Franz Joseph I, lived here with his wife Elisabeth, and their apartments offer a glimpse into the private lives of Franz Joseph and Princess Sissy. In the museum you can see Elisabeth’s gym, their bedroom, workplace and many other rooms.
The Imperial Silver Collection allows visitors to experience the luxury and sophistication of royal cutlery. The most valuable items in the museum are the Viennese silver cutlery and numerous objects from the former dining room. The unique collection is of cultural and historical significance and was opened on April 1, 1995.
More than 7,000 objects are stored in the Silver Chamber. The extensive collection from the time of the Habsburg dynasty consists of expensive crockery made of porcelain, silver and glass; kitchen utensils, tablecloths, napkins and porcelain sets. You can also learn about the best recipes for traditional court dishes as well as the culinary preferences of the Habsburg dynasty.
What to see in the Hofburg in Vienna
Tourists and visitors have the opportunity to see the imperial apartments, the Spanish Riding School (Apanische Reitschule), the Treasury (Schatzkammer) and the National Library (Nathionalbibliothek).
The Hofburg Treasury is located in the Swiss Court. It contains the royal regalia of the Habsburgs as well as artefacts that belonged to the imperial dynasty, such as staffs, crowns, swords, imperial robes of the Roman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and everyday objects.
One of the most valuable objects in the Treasury is the imperial crown of Charlemagne, which was worn during coronations from the 10th century.
Hours of operation:
- Wednesday-Monday: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
- Tuesdays off.
On the territory of the Hofburg is the largest library of the country – the Austrian National Library. Here are stored copies of all Austrian publications and works of Austrian authors. The library collection contains more than 7.5 million copies of books, including manuscripts and old books, maps, globes, paintings, photographs, autographs and posters.
In addition, the Hofburg library has a department of literature in artificial languages, including Esperanto and others. The library’s catalogs are digitized and available online.
Monument to Joseph II
One of the most beautiful monuments in Vienna stands on Josefsplatz, the monument to Emperor Joseph II. The monument was erected in 1807 in honor of one of the main reformers of Austria, who carried out some changes in the domestic policy of the country.
The monument is a figure of the emperor on horseback, who extends his right arm, emphasizing his importance. At the corners of the pedestal there are small columns with 4 medallions on each, which reveal key events in the ruler’s life.
Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School offers rides on the world famous Lipizzan horses, an ancient breed of racehorses. In addition to riding, courses, trainings and excursions are available. The school also has a museum dedicated to the famous horse breed. In addition, the Spanish Riding School attracts a large number of spectators to its unique performances.
Ticket prices start at 13 euros.
Excursions to the Hofburg
As a very popular place in Vienna, the Hofburg is visited daily by a huge number of tourists from all over the world. You can visit the palace on your own or as part of a guided tour group. During the tour, the guide tells about the history of the Hofburg, from its formation to the present day.
Group tours (private and evening) in English are also available at the Hofburg. Group tours include visits to the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments, and the Silver Collection.
Tickets for the Hofburg
You can book tickets to the Imperial Palace Hofburg in advance. The cost will depend on the chosen tour and the number of people.