The Albertina in Vienna numbers among the most important collections worldwide. Since 1805 it has been housed in one of the most magnificent Neo-Classicist palaces in Europe. Its name goes back to Duke Albert of Saxony-Teschen, the collection’s founder and son-in-law of Maria Theresa. Between 1802 and 1804, Duke Albert had the former Baroque town palace of Count Sylva-Tarouca extended by an impressive wing accommodating the staterooms, built by the Belgian architect Louis de Montoyer. Its exquisite furnishings in the style of Louis Seize were made in the royal workshops of the French court in Paris and Versailles. In 1822, Archduke Charles, Duke Albert’s adoptive son and heir, initiated the redesign of the Habsburg staterooms in the style of the French Empire, commissioning Joseph Danhauser to furnish the palace with precious furniture and elaborate parquet flooring. The stately historical appearance of the palace’s façades, added in 1867, is owed to Archduke Albrecht, Charles’ eldest son. Between 1895 and 1897 – the final phase of the palace’s refurbishment –Archduke Frederick, Albrecht’s nephew and adoptive son, commissioned the so-called Spanish Apartments, the only permanent residence of the Spanish royal family outside their native country.
The Hall of the Muses, the heart of the Habsburg staterooms, was used as a dining room and provided a festive setting for glamorous soirées and magnificent balls. It was illuminated by five superb crystal chandeliers, and an additional 258 candles attached to the rosette frieze running around the room bathed it in a sea of light. Precious stucco marble wall panelling and pillars, as well as gilded doors and ornaments, contribute to its impressive atmosphere. The hall’s name is derived from the cycle of figures Apollo and the Nine Muses. The larger-than-life sandstone figures, whose polished white surface is meant to simulate marble, were likewise designed by Joseph Klieber, who was inspired by the sculptor Antonio Canova when he conceived this work.
The Palais Eschenbach is an historical building located in the heart of Vienna, near the famous Ringstraβe, the most beautiful and magnificent boulevard in Vienna. Inaugurated by Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria in 1872, it was built in the clear style of Palladian classicism according to the design of the architect Otto Thienemann.
The "golden ballroom" with its impressive coffered ceiling, arcade arches and a number of marble pilasters does not only mirror the great era of the Strauss dynasty but also offers its visitors a truly astonishing acoustic experience.
The Museum of Military History, one of the most important history museums in the world, is situated right in the centre of the Arsenal. The Military History Museum was built according to plans of Ludwig Foerster and Theophil Hansen from 1850 to 1856 and was thus the first Viennese museum. The styles of this town’s oldest historic building range from Byzantine, Hispano-Moorish to Neo-Gothic. In five major sections the museum shows the history of the Habsburg Empire from the end of the 16th century until 1918 and Austria’s fate after the dissolution of the monarchy up to the year 1945.
A picture may only incompletely review the fascination of this hall. You have to reside in the hall and let the frescos of Carl v. Blaas, the pompous dome and the architectural brilliance put an impression on you.
The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts were commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830 – 1916) and designed by the architects Gottfried Semper (1803 – 1879) and Carl Hasenauer (1833 – 1894). The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other. They were originally designed to be part of a much larger project – an Imperial Forum – which was never realized in full. Work on the Natural History Museum lasted from 1871 until 1881. On August 10, 1889 Emperor Franz Joseph I himself officially opened the museum. Its façade, designed by Gottfried Semper, shows figures and statues representing progress in the field of natural sciences and the power of nature. Below the dome, the imperial dedication in golden letters reads: “To the realm of nature and its exploration”.
Through an opening in the intricately decorated ceiling visitors can look up about 40m into the dome. Around this opening there are portraits of important natural scientists and collectors from many centuries, including the first director of the Natural History Museum, Ferdinand von Hochstetter, and Johann Natterer. Rare precious stones and other valuable materials were used to decorate the interior. The white marble on the floor comes from Carrara; the black limestone is from Belgium. The walls are covered in plaster imitation marble.