In our two days in Vienna, we noticed that there are two things you hear about a lot, the first was music, which I wrote about in my previous post. And the second is the Habsburgs, the last royal family of Austria, who ruled until the early 1900s.
All over the city, you’ll hear about how they were connected to different places, like how when they passed away their remains were not just buried at one place, but were actually split between 3 different churches in the city! I mean they were literally split – their intestines were buried at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, their hearts at a chapel at the Hofburg Palace and the rest of them in the imperial crypt beneath the Capuchin Church! But the most noteworthy Habsburg sites were the palaces.
The first of the palaces we visited was the Hofburg Palace. Located right in the center of the city, it was once the winter home of the Habsburg family. The Hofburg was originally built in the 1400s and was expanded in the centuries following. The Spanish Riding School is a part of the complex so after we went to the morning exercises, we went right across the way to the Sisi Museum and the imperial apartments in the palace. We did the audio tour, which was really interesting, we learned all about Empress Elisabeth, aka Sisi, who the museum focused on. She was the wife of Franz Joseph, the emperor of Austria who ruled from 1848-1916. The tour took us through exhibits about Sisi’s life and the way she and her family lived.
The next one was the Schonbronn Palace, which is the palace you have to see if you’re only going to visit one! It was once the summer residence of the Habsburgs, located further outside of the city center. Wanting to get ahead of the crowds we planned to get there right when it opened, and we headed right inside to start the audio tour (we liked the audio guide at the Hofburg so decided to do another one!).
The tour took us through the royal residences and described all the different generations of Habsburgs who lived there. It focused a lot on Maria Theresa, the empress during the 1700s who influenced a lot of the interior of the palace, as well as Franz Joseph, the longest ruling emperor of Austria (who Sisi was married to). It was fascinating to learn about the family and see where they lived! In hindsight, I wish I had learned more about the family tree before visiting because there were a lot of names to try to keep straight!
After the tour of the interior, we walked through the gardens in the back of the Schonbronn and saw the huge Neptune Fountain.
Vienna is full of history and with only two days in the city, visiting these two palaces was a great way to learn about the Habsburgs and how important they were to the city and the country of Austria!