Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace (49)

The Unteres Belvedere forms, together with the Oberes Belvedere, from which it is separated by an elegant French-style garden designed by Dominique Girard, an impressive Baroque complex that gives you an idea of the opulence in which Prince Eugene of Savoy lived, a great hero in the wars of the seventeenth century fought against the Turks.

The first palace, the Unteres Belvedere, was commissioned in 1714 to the architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, who had worked in the aristocrat's Winter Palace. The works were completed two years later. Eugene of Savoy, who was represented as the god Apollo in one of the ceiling frescoes, used it as a summer residence and today a visit to their private quarters will give you an idea of his lifestyle.

Key areas of interest in this building are the Marble Hall, decorated with frescoes by Martino Altomonte, the Hall of the Grotesque, with frescoes depicting fabulous creatures inspired by Roman villas, and the Hall of Mirrors, a luxurious golden space. 

This part of the Belvedere also incorporates the former stables where the prince's horses lived, which today serves as home to 150 important pieces of medieval religious art, including sculptures, panels and triptychs. The Orangery is also connected to the Unteres Belvedere; this is a pavilion that was once used as a greenhouse and currently hosts temporary exhibitions.

The Oberes Belvedere, located at the highest point of the garden, came a little later since a decision was made to build it in 1717 and the works took place during 1721 and 1722. Its sleek look is intended to glorify the figure of Prince Eugene. Among its impressive rooms, decorated with stuccoes and frescoes by artists such as Carlo Carlone or Giacomo del Po, the Terrena Room and the Marble Hall are worth a special mention.

Besides being able to discover the fascinating architecture of the Oberes Belvedere, here you will have the chance to see a very comprehensive collection of Austrian art covering the period from the Middle Ages to the present.

This permanent exhibition enables you to see, in addition to masterpieces of Gothic sculpture and painting, paintings by baroque artists like Martino Altomonte, Johann Michael Rottmayr, Daniel Gran and Paul Troge as well as famous busts of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, representing peculiar expressions of the human face. 

But undoubtedly one of the strengths of the Oberes Belvedere is having the world's largest collection of works by Gustav Klimt, one of the key figures in the artistic movement of the Vienna Secession. Without going any further, here you will be in front of the famous painting titled The Kiss or, if you prefer, before the portrait depicting the biblical figure of Judith, known for portraying this character from the Old Testament as a Viennese woman in the early twentieth century.

 The sumptuous palaces, which after the prince's death went through frequent periods when they were in disuse, had, as one of its illustrious past residents, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they became part of the heritage of the Republic. 

You might be interested to know that on 15th May 1955, in the Marble Hall of the Oberes Belvedere, the treaty was signed by which Austria recovered, after the hard years that followed World War II, national sovereignty.

A visit to Belvedere is a visit to a fundamental part of the history of Vienna and one of the cornerstones of the baroque architecture of the city, so you should not miss it.

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