Hofburg Palace in Vienna Tour Guide:
The main residence of the Habsburg Imperials, the Hofburg Palace in Vienna began its origins as a full- fledged fortress, complete with moat, drawbridge and corner towers. Over 6 centuries later, not much remains of the original fortress; completely revamped, the Hofburg Palace now houses the offices of the Austrian Government, museums and the National Library. Only the Imperial Apartments used by Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Empress Elizabeth survive in their original grandeur and give a glimpse of the life led by the Imperial couple.
Enjoy a guided tour of the Imperial Apartments; beginning from the Emperor’s Staircase, the tour takes you directly to the Emperor’s suite of apartments beginning with the Guards Room, Audience Waiting Chamber and Audience Room. Stop by at the Emperor’s Study, where he spent much of his waking time and where the Emperor’s fondness for his family is evident from the many intimate photographs and paintings adorning the room. The emperor’s simple lifestyle is visible in his bedroom, which is sparse with a narrow bed, a toilet table and several paintings of his family.
Empress Elizabeth’s bedroom was once the imperial marital bedroom of the couple, which changed once the empress insisted on separate bedrooms. All that can be seen now in the empress’ bedroom is her personal belongings including a single bed similar to the emperor’s bed, several oriental rugs and a small writing desk with chair and letterbox. Not much is known about the rest of the furnishings.
However, you can still view the exercising equipment the empress used to attain and maintain her renowned small waist at the Empress’ Dressing & Exercise Room and the bathroom that was installed in the 19th century remodelling. The empress’ wardrobe room is also worth a visit for its exquisite landscaped murals by Bergl, which give the rooms their name – Bergl rooms.
Another beautiful room, you will come across in the tour includes the Large Salon of Empress Elizabeth, where she enjoyed breakfast with the Emperor; notable features of the room include the White and Gold Rococo decorations, scenic landscape paintings and a marble statue portraying Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Bonaparte, as the Greek muse Polyhymnia.
The Alexander Apartments and the Dining Room give a glimpse into the official entertainment practices and state dinners held during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth. Gain a further insight into the culture of dining at court with a tour of the former Court Silver and Table Room, which houses the Silver Collection of the Hofburg Imperial Palace. Here, you can view over 7000 items including Empress Maria Theresa’s ‘Mundzeug’, a collection of 18th century, solid gold personal eating implements used by Empress Maria Theresa at Vienna and everywhere she travelled.
The tour ends at the Sissi Museum, which depicts through a variety of displays the life and nature of Empress Elizabeth and the events that led to her transformation from a lively girl to a melancholic woman and eventually her assassination.