About Hofburg Imperial Palace
Hofburg Imperial Palace, often known simply as “the Hofburg”, is a grand palace in Vienna and was under the ownership of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Dynasty until 1918, when it passed to the Austrian Republic. Today it is a buzzing network of museums, restaurants and halls as well as the seat of the President of Austria.
History of the Hofburg Palace
Although the oldest, square parts of the building including the Schweizerhof (Swiss Courtyard) date back to the 13th century, Hofburg Imperial Palace became a residence of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from the 15th century and the seat of the Emperor of Austria from the early 19th century.
The oldest and most well preserved part of the Hofburg is its gothic chapel or ‘Burgkapelle’, where visitors can hear the Vienna boys’ choir sing on Sundays amidst its stunning architecture.
Hofburg Imperial Palace contains a wealth of architectural gems derived from a series of renovations and expansions carried out during the course of the Habsbergs’ ownership, including works by Filiberto Luchese, Lukas von Hildebrandt and Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, the latter of whom also designed parts of Schonbrunn Palace.
Major expansion was undertaken in the 18th century, with various large Baroque extensions designed by the court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and later his son, Joseph, who supervised the beautiful Court Library.
Huge even today, over 5000 people work and live in the complex, which extends over 240,000 m² and comprises of over 2,600 rooms. There is little more that could illustrate the power and might of Imperial Austria under the Habsburgs.
The Hofburg today
Today, the palace is home to the Sisi Museum, dedicated to one of Austria’s most famous rulers, the Empress Sisi. A ticket allows gets you into the Imperial Apartments and the Hofburg’s Silver Collection – an audio guide is included in the ticket price so be sure to pick one up.
The Hofburg is unashamedly aimed towards tourists, and particularly fans of Empress Sisi, but there’s plenty still to enjoy here – allow several hours to explore and bask in the unashamed decadence and luxury of Habsburg design.
The Spanish Riding School, with its famous ‘dancing’ Lipizzaner horses are also based here, attracting crowds from around the world to watch their classical dressage. Tickets are expensive but some people love it.
Getting to the Hofburg
The Hofburg is in central Vienna, just outside the MuseumsQuartier – it’s easily accessible by foot from any of Vienna’s major museums. The MuseumsQuartier U-Bahn is a 5 minute walk away and tram stops on the Volkstheater are nearby too.