The majestic Hofburg Palace, also known as the Imperial Palace, is located right at the heart of Vienna. Here, we have St. Michael’s Wing, as designed by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach. This elegant façade was inspired by Roman architecture and was first meant to resemble a Roman forum. The U-shape follows the square, emphasizing the middle section, which is the entrance to the Imperial apartments. (Mistervlad/Shutterstock)
With more than 700 years of history, the Hofburg Palace in the center of Vienna turns many pages of history. Once the home and seat of the Habsburg dynasty, the origins of the Imperial Palace date back to the 13th century.
One of the largest palace complexes in the world, the Hofburg Palace almost feels like a city within a city, with its 18 buildings, 19 courtyards, and 2,600 rooms. Originally a medieval castle built by King Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1275, it grew into a massive complex that would become the residence and seat of power of Austrian rulers up to 1918.
Today, the complex features official staterooms, museums, art galleries, gardens, a Spanish riding school, and a church.
The palace’s architecture ranges from gothic to neoclassical to baroque. The baroque elements are undoubtedly the most impressive architectural features of the complex. The opulence of the baroque combines with the playfulness of the late-baroque rococo decorative style, as can be admired in the majestic Imperial apartments.
Emperor Franz Joseph, Empress Elizabeth (“Sisi”), their children, and court lived there during the winter months. Rich furnishings decorate the ornate baroque rooms where the famous Austrian couple lived, blending some light touches of rococo such as the Bohemian crystal used in the crystal chandeliers. Other decorative highlights include the dining room decorated with Flemish artwork, the circle room with intricate tapestries, and the large salon decorated with Louis XIV-style furniture.