Hofjadg und Rustkammer (Vienna)


Tel. 01- 5252 4484
Open: 10am- 6pm Wed- Mon

Subway: Volkstheater, Herrengasse


Description of Hofjadg and Rustkammer

Hofjadg and Rustkammer hold an interesting collection of weapons from Hofburg royal palace complex. Some of items were made in Austria while other splendid masterpieces were made all over Europe. Other items came from Syria and Ottoman Empire. The museum of weapons also houses a collection of personal weapons of monarchs from the Habsburg dynasty.


The Vienna Collection is one of the best of its kind in the world. It is also the best documented court armory in the western world, since the objects were created in connection with highly political events or came into the collection: on the occasion of campaigns, Imperial Diets, tributes, coronations, engagements , Weddings or baptisms. No other ruling family was connected to so many European countries through marriage as the Habsburgs. Therefore, almost all Western European princes from the 15th to the early 20th century are represented with armor and ceremonial weapons.

The harnesses are custom-made by the most famous armourers: the riding harness by Tommaso Missaglia, the pumpkin by Lorenz Helmschmid for Emperor Maximilian I, the boy's pleated skirt harness by Konrad Seusenhofer for the later Emperor Karl V. and the half-harness alla romana by Filippo Negroli and many more. The designs by famous artists such as Dürer or Holbein were often used for the often magnificent etching.


The history of the collection
The Habsburgs inherited objects from a wide variety of countries: from the old crown and neighboring countries, from Bohemia and Hungary, Galicia and other Balkan regions, as well as from today's BENELUX countries, i.e. the old Netherlands, from provinces of today's France such as Burgundy, Alsace , Lorraine, not least from Spain and large parts of Italy. Diplomatic relations and armed conflicts enriched the collection with objects from the Middle East, be it the enemy Turks or the Persians and Egyptians who were allied with the Habsburgs at times.

The imperial claim alone guaranteed the highest artistic quality. Everything that surrounded the ruler and his vassals, from the palace in which he lived to his furnishings, was of the finest delicacy, and so what he wore on his own body had to be particularly precious: from his armor as splendid costume over sword or epee up to the mace. The same was true for the armor of his horse. So every single object is a work of art.

When almost all of the armories of the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg in Vienna were united in the 19th century, a collection was created that today is one of the best of its kind in the world. In its current arrangement, there are essentially three large holdings that, through the combination, gave this collection its special character.

The basis was the imperial body armory, in which, since 1436, the equipment, mainly armor and ceremonial weapons of the ruling family and its followers, was kept. In early baroque, the armor also completely lost its meaning as a symbol of the class, because in the "modern" state it was no longer necessary to show knightly virtues or physical performance with armor. As a result, the objects of the imperial body armory were presented as museum objects and finally in a baroque hall of fame of Austrian-Habsburg history together with military weapons.

From the Baroque onwards, all artistic skills were used for the decorative and technical design of hunting and sporting weapons as well as for fashionable accessories such as the court epee. These objects belong to the second large collection, the "Hofgewehr- or Hofjagdkammer", which was created under Emperor Ferdinand II (1578 / 1619–1637); Every epoch up to the end of the monarchy in 1918 is represented with the highest quality works.

We owe the third - and perhaps most important in terms of cultural history - to Archduke Ferdinand von Tirol's (1529–1595) unique “hero armory chamber”, which he created from 1577 in Ambras Castle near Innsbruck. This collection is the work of a highly educated, art-loving, highly liberal prince, who was provided with great funds and who used his social relationships with all the major courts in Europe to realize his "Atrium Heroicum", the "honest society". (The word "honest" was understood at that time in the sense of "honorable".) According to a concept that was surprisingly modern even for today's terms, he collected the armor and weapons of all famous personalities from the prince to the general of his time and the previous century. 125 viri illustri included his collection, the inventory of which he had commissioned. This first printed, illustrated museum catalog only appeared after his death (1601 in Latin, 1603 in German). Each “hero” is portrayed in full armor in copperplate engraving and described with his curriculum vitae. This collection was available to the public for a fee as early as the 17th century.

The Ambras Collection came to Vienna as imperial private property in the course of the Napoleonic occupations in 1806 and was combined with the collections already mentioned. In 1889 the weapon collection was the first collection of the newly built k. k. Kunsthistorisches Hofmuseum opened. After the dissolution of the monarchy at the end of the First World War in 1918, the art history collections of the Most High Imperial House became the property of the Republic of Austria.