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History of the Vienna Hofburg
With the elevation of Austria to Archduchy in 1156, Vienna became a city of residence. From the residence of the Babenberg dynasty, who was located on the present site "Am Hof", unfortunately, there do not exist any remains anymore. After the extinction of the Babenberg, Ottokar II of Bohemia (1230-1278) took over by marriage the rule in Vienna and began in 1275 with the construction of a castle within the city walls of Vienna. This castle was equipped with four towers around a rectangular court that is known as Schweizerhof today. In the battle for the German crown Ottokar was defeated at the Battle of Dürnkrut by Rudolf I of Habsburg (1218-1291) and killed during the retreat.
As the old residence of the Babenberg in 1276 burned down, Rudolf probably 1279 moved into the former castle of Ottokar. The descendants of Rudolf extended the castle only slightly: castle chapel (documentary mention in 1296), St. Augustine’s Church (consecrated in 1349), reconstruction of the chapel (1423-1426). Due to the division of the lands of the Habsburg Vienna lost its importance and also lacked the financial resources to expand the castle.
Under Frederick III. (1415-1493) the Habsburgs obtained the imperial title and Vienna became an imperial residence. But Friedrich and his successors used the Vienna Residence only rarely and so it happened that the imperial residence temporarily orphaned. Only under Ferdinand I (1503-1564) Vienna again became the capital of the Archduchy. Under Ferdinand set in a large construction activity: The three existing wings of the Swiss court were expanded and increased. The defensive wall in the northwest as fourth tract with the Swiss Gate (built in 1552 probably by Pietro Ferrabosco) was rebuilt. In the southwest, a tract for Ferdinand’s children (the so-called "children Stöckl") was added. The newly constituted authorities Exchequer and Chancery were located in adjacent buildings at Castle Square. Were added in the castle an art chamber, a hospital, a passage from the castle to St. Augustine’s Church and a new ballroom.
First major extensions of the residence
In the area of "desolate church" built Ferdinand from 1559 a solitary residence for his son. However, the construction was delayed, and Maximilian II (1527-1576) after his father’s death in 1564 moved into the ancient castle. His residence he for his Spanish horses had converted into a Hofstallgebäude (Stallburg – stables) and increased from 1565 .
Ferdinand I decided to divide his lands to his three sons, which led to a reduction of Vienna as a residence. Moreover, stayed Maximilian II, who was awarded alongside Austria above and below the Enns also Bohemia and Hungary, readily in Prague and he moved also the residence there. In 1575 he decided to build a new building in front of the Swiss court for the royal household of his eldest son, Rudolf II (1552-1612). The 1577 in the style of the late Renaissance completed and in 1610 expanded building, which was significantly fitted with a turret with "welscher hood" and an astronomical clock, but by the governor of the Emperor (Archduke Ernst of Austria) was inhabited. However, the name "Amalienborg Castle" comes from Amalie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (wife of Joseph I.), which in 1711 there installed her widow seat.
In the late 16th and early 17th Century only a few extensions were carried out: extension of a separate tract in the northeast of the castle for the Treasure and Art chamber (1583-1585) and setting up of a dance hall in the area of today’s Redoutensäle (1629-1631).
Under Leopold I the dance hall by Ludovico Burnacini 1659/1660 was rebuilt into an at that time modern theater ("Comedy House"). 1666 Leopold I in the area of today’s castle garden a new opera house with three tiers and a capacity of 5,000 people had built.
In the 1660-ies under Leopold I (1640-1705) after the plans of architect Filiberto Lucchese an elongated wing building between the Amalienborg Castle and the Schweizerhof, the so-called Leopoldine Wing, was built. However, since the tract shortly after the completion burned down, this by Giovanni Pietro Tencala was set up newly and increased. Architecturally, this tract still connects to the late Renaissance. The connection with the Amalienborg castle followed then under Leopold’s son Joseph I (1678-1711).
After completion of the Leopoldine Wing the in the southeast of castle located riding school was renewed, the south tower of the old castle pulled down, the old sacristy of the chapel replaced by an extension. Under Charles VI. (1685-1740) the Gateway Building between cabbage market (Kohlmarkt) and Courtyard by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt was transformed into a monumental triumphal arch as a representative sign of the imperial power. However, this construction does not exist anymore, it had to give way to the Michael tract.
Baroque redesign of the Hofburg
In the early 18th Century set in a buoyant construction activity. The emperor commissioned Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach with the construction of new stables outside the city walls and a new court library.
After the death of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach took over the construction management for the stables and the court library. 1725 the palatial front of the stables was completed. As already during the construction period has been established that the stables were dimensioned too small, the other wings were not realized anymore. The with frescoes by Daniel Gran and statues of Emperors by Paul Strudel equipped Court Library was completed in 1737.
Opposite the Leopoldine Wing a new Reich Chancellery should be built. 1723 was entrusted with the planning Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. 1726, however, the supervision the Reich Chancellery was withdrawn and transferred to the Chancery and thus Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, who also designed the adjacent Court Chamber and the front to St. Michael’s Church. 1728 the Court Chamber and the facade of the two buildings were completed. By Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach was also the Michaelertrakt, the connection between the Winter Riding School and the Imperial Chancellery Wing planned. However, since the old Burgtheater the building was in the path, this was half done for a period of 150 years and was only completed in 1889-1893 by Ferdinand Kirschner .
Under Maria Theresia (1717-1780) the at St. Michael’s Square located and only as remnants existing Ballhaus was adapted as a court theater. Beside the Emperor hospital in return a new ball house was built, being eponymous for the Ballhausplatz. Subsequently, there occured again and again conversions and adaptations: reconstruction of the comedy hall according to the plans of Jean Nicolas Jadot into two ballrooms, the small and large ball room (1744-1748). The transformation of the two halls (from 1760), repair of the Court Library, and from 1769 onwards the design of the Josephsplatz took place under Joseph Nicolas of Pacassi. These buildings were completed by the successor of Pacassi Franz Anton Hillebrandt. As an extension for the Court Library in the southeast the Augustinian tract was built.
Other structural measures under Maria Theresia: establishment of the court pharmacy into the Stallburg, relocation of the in the Stallburg housed art collection into the Upper Belvedere, razing of the two remaining towers of the old castle, the construction of two stairways (the ambassador stairway and the column stairways (Botschafter- and Säulenstiege).
Extensions in the 19th Century and early 20th century
Francis II (1768-1835) gave Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen and his wife Marie Christine (daughter of Maria Theresa) the Palais Tarouca south of the Augustinian monastery. From 1800 this was remodeled by Louis Montoyer and extended by a wing building to today’s Albertina.
1804, Francis II proclaimed the hereditary Empire of Austria and was, consequently, as Franz I the first Emperor of Austria. With the by Napoleon Bonaparte provoked abdication of the emperor in 1806 ended the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.
1809 part of the old bastions was blown up at the castle in consequence of the war with Napoleon, and after it blazed. Towards today’s ring road, then new outworks were created (the so-called Hornwerkskurtine and the Escarpen). In the early 20-ies of the 19th Century were layed out three gardens: the private imperial castle garden with two of Louis Remy planned steel/glass- constructed greenhouses, Heroes Square (Heldenplatz) with avenues and the People’s garden (Volksgarten) with the Theseus Temple (Pietro Nobile). At the same time, emerged also the new, 1821 by Luigi Cagnola began and 1824 by Pietro Nobile completed outer castle gate.
1846 was built a monumental memorial to Francis I in Inner Castle Square. In the turmoil of the 1848 revolution the Stallburg was stormed and fought fiercely at the outer castle square and the castle gate. As a result, the roof of the court library burned. The political consequences of the revolution were the abdication of Emperor Ferdinand I (1793-1875), the dismissal of the dreaded Chancellor Clemens Lothar Fürst Metternich and the enthronement of Ferdinand’s nephew Franz Joseph.
In the first years of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830-1916) the royal stables of Leopold Mayer have been redesigned and expanded. As part of the expansion of the city, the city walls were razed and instead of the fortifications arose place for a magnificent boulevard, the Ringstrasse. 1862, the idea of an Imperial Forum by architect Ludwig Förster was born. On the surface between the Hofburg and the Imperial Stables should arise court museums (Museum of Art History and Museum of Natural History).
At the outer Castle Square (today’s Heldenplatz) were in the 60-ies of the 19th Century the by Anton Dominik Fernkorn created equestrian statues of Archduke Charles (victor over Napoleon at the Battle of Aspern) and Prince Eugene of Savoy (victor over the Turks in several battles) set up.
After an unsuccessful architectural competition on the design of the Heroes’ Square area in 1869 Gottfried Semper could be won. This led to the involuntary and not frictionless collaboration with Carl Freiherr von Hasenauer. Planned was a two-wing complex beyond the ring road, with the two flanking twin museums (Art and Natural History Museum) and the old stables as a conclusion. 1871 was began with the Erdaushebungen (excavations) for the museums. 1889, the Museum of Natural History was opened, and in 1891, the Museum of Art History.
On a watercolor from 1873 by Rudolf Ritter von Alt (1812 – 1905) an overall view of the Imperial Forum is shown.
1888, the Old Court Theatre at St. Michael’s Square was demolished, as the new KK Court Theatre (today’s Burgtheater), built by Gottfried Semper and Carl Freiherr von Hasenauer, was finished. The since 150 years existing construction site at St. Michael’s Square could be completed. The roundel got a dome, the concave curved Michaelertrakt was finalized by Ferdinand Kirschner. The once by Lorenzo Mattielli created cycle of statues on the facade of the Reich Chancellery was continued with four other "deeds of Hercules’ at he side of the passage arches. 1893, the Hofburg had finally got its ostentatious show facade.
1901, the old greenhouses were demolished and replaced by an orangery with Art Nouveau elements according to plans by Friedrich Ohmann (completed in 1910). In 1907, the Corps de Logis, which forms the end of the Neue Burg, is completed. Since Emperor Franz Joseph I in budding 20th Century no longer was interested in lengthy construction projects and the heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este (1863-1914) was against the establishment of a throne hall building, but was in favour for the construction of a smaller ballroom tract, the implementation of the second wing was dropped. After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este in Sarajevo, the First World War broke out. Franz Joseph I died in 1916. A great-nephew of Franz Joseph I, Charles I (1887-1922), succeeded to the throne, however, he held only two years. The end of the First World War also meant the end of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. On 11 November 1918 the First Republic was proclaimed. As Karl although renounced to government business, but not to the throne, he had to go into exile with his family.
The Imperial Palace in the 20th century
The interior design of the ballroom tract and the Neue Burg continued despite the end of the monarchy until 1926. By the end of the monarchy, many of the buildings lost their purpose. Furthermore used or operated was the Riding School. The stables were used from 1921 as an exhibition site of the Vienna Fair ("Fair Palace"). In 1928, the Corps de Logis, the Museum of Ethnology, until then part of the Natural History Museum, opened. In 1935 the collection of weapons (Court, Hunting and Armour Chamber) of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History) came in the Neue Burg.
1933/1934 the outer castle gate by Rudolf Wondracek was transformed into the hero monument to the victims of the First World War. 1935 emerged on the left and on the right of the castle gate the pylon portals with eagle sculptures by William Frass. In March 1938, the Heroes Square and the balcony of the Neue Burg gained notoriety after Adolf Hitler to the cheering crowd at the Heldenplatz announced the annexation of Austria to the German Reich. The Nazis were planning a redesign of the Heroes’ Square to a paved parade and ceremony space. The plans were not realized since 1943 a fire pond at Heldenplatz was dredged and the place was later used for agriculture. In the Trade Fair Palace during the period of Nazism propaganda events were held.
During the war, the Hofburg (Imperial Stables, St. Augustine’s Church, Albertina, the official building of the Federal President, the current building of the Federal Chancellery) was severely damaged by bombing: The first President of the Second Republic, Dr. Karl Renner, in 1946 the Office of the President moved into the Leopoldine Wing (in the former living quarters of Maria Theresa and Joseph II).
During the occupation time the seat of the Inter-Allied Commission was housed in the Neue Burg.
1946 first events were held in the Exhibition Palace again, and were built two large halls in the main courtyard of the Exhibition Palace. In the course of the reconstruction war damages were disposed and the Imperial Palace was repaired, the barn castle (Stallburg) erected again. In 1958, in the ballroom wing the convention center has been set up.
1962-1966 the modern Library of the Austrian National Library is housed in the Neue Burg.
1989 emerged for the first time the notion of a "Museum Quarter". The museum quarter should include contemporary art and culture. The oversized design by Laurids and Manfred Ortner but was downsized several times after resistance of a citizens’ initiative. It was implemented a decade later.
1992 the two Redoutensäle (ball rooms) burned out completely. Yet shortly after the fire was started with reconstruction. The roof was reconstructed and the little ball room (Kleiner Redoutensaal) could be restored. The big ball room, however, was renovated and designed with paintings by Josef Mikl. In 1997 the two halls were reopened.
From 1997-2002 the Museum Quarter (including Kunsthalle Wien, Leopold Collection) was rebuilt and the old building fabric renovated.
Was began in 1999 with the renovation of the Albertina. The by a study building, two exhibit halls and an underground storage vault extended Museum was reopened in 2003. The Albertina ramp was built with an oversized shed roof by Hans Hollein.
In 2006, additional rooms for the convention center were created by the boiler house yard.
(Source: Trenkler, Thomas: "The Hofburg Wien", Vienna, 2004)