Belvedere - the summer residence of the Prince of Savoy, one of the greatest commanders Of Austria . The magnificent palace complex with extensive gardens is considered one of the best Baroque masterpieces. In 1955, the Belvedere Palace became the site of the signing of the Austrian Declaration of Independence. Today it houses the Austrian National Gallery.
Myths and Facts
The name Belvedere, which means "beautiful view", is due to its location on a hillside, from where a stunning panoramic view of Vienna and St. Stephen's Cathedral opens.
The first palace of the complex - the Lower Belvedere - was built as a dwelling in 1716 by Prince Eugene of Savoy, a successful military commander from France who managed to defeat the Turkish army in 1683. A year later, it was decided to erect in front of the second palace for official receptions - Upper Belvedere. Both buildings were designed by the famous Austrian Baroque architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt.
After the death of the childless prince, his property was sold to Anna Victoria. A few years later, the palaces were bought by Empress Maria Theresa, who wanted to place a royal art collection in Belvedere. In 1779, she opened palaces and gardens to the public. At the end of the 19th century, this collection was transferred to a specially constructed Austrian History and Art Museum.
In 1918, Belvedere palaces became state property and became a museum. The basis was the collection of the Prince of Savoy, who was a passionate patron of the arts and gathered a large collection of paintings and sculptures from all over Of Europe .
What to see
In the Lower Belvedere, where the Prince’s apartments were located, the original atmosphere with a magnificent collection of paintings and sculptures was well preserved. You can visit the Mirror Hall, the Golden Cabinet, the Prince’s bedroom, and the dining room. The highlight of the palace is the Marble Hall, decorated with stucco bas-reliefs, statues and frescoes by Martino Altomonte, who portrayed the Prince of Savoy in the image of Apollo. Do not miss the Grotesque Hall, painted in the ancient Roman style, where there are sculptures with eccentrically distorted faces.
Lower Belvedere is a museum of baroque, painting and sculpture of Austria XVII-XVIII centuries. In the neighboring palace stables is a museum of medieval Austrian art of the XII-XIV centuries. Nearby is a greenhouse, where today more than 4,000 plants are grown, representing a variety of alpine flora.
Upper Belvedere rises on the top of a slope in the southern part of the park Its solemn facades with many sculptures embodying the victory over the Turkish army, make a much greater impression than the modest Lower Belvedere.
Unfortunately, in the Upper Belvedere the original interior has been little preserved, since the building was actively used until the middle of the 20th century. The former reception and banquet halls houses one of Austria’s best art collections of the 19th-20th centuries, which includes works by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Schiele and Kokoschka, as well as the largest collection of famous Austrian artist Gustav Klimt.
Between the palaces is the Belvedere garden, laid in the early 18th century in the French style. The garden has three levels, separated by two large cascades. The upper cascade consists of six basins surrounded by statues and large sphinxes - symbols of strength and intelligence. Eight muses adorn the lower cascade with a small waterfall. Statues along the stairs in the middle of the garden symbolize twelve months.
The best time to visit the park is spring and early summer, when lawns bloom with intricate patterns. If you are in Vienna at this time of year, be sure to visit the Imperial GardenSchonbrunn PalacepatternedVersailles park. 100 km from Vienna is the cityMelkwith a beautiful monastery-palace on the high bank of the Danube. In Salzburg you can see an unusual garden of dwarfs inMirabell Palace,Salzburg CathedralandHohensalzburg Castle.
Belvedere Palace is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: combined ticket for visiting palaces, greenhouses and stables - 12.50 €. Entrance to the garden is free.