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Winter Palace of Prince Eugene (Vienna)

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Himmelpfortgasse 4- 8

Tel. 51433

Subway: Stephansplatz

Vestibule Open: 8am- 4pm Mon- Fri

 

 

 

Description of the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene

Winter Palace of Prince Eugene was constructed in 1694 for Prince Eugene of Savoy, one of important key figures in the Siege of Vienna of 1683 by the Turkish armies. Winter Palace construction began under supervision of architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and later taken over by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt in 1702. This private residence was bought by Austrian Empress Maria Theresa in 1752 for the state.

 

The historic rooms in the Beletage were the seat of the Ministry of Finance from 1848 until the general renovation of the city palace begun in 2007. In the course of this work, the state rooms were restored true to the original and presented themselves in Baroque opulence designed for Prince Eugen. In autumn 2013, the ministry temporarily transferred the state rooms formerly used by the state as a federal museum to the Austrian Gallery Belvedere, which, starting with the prince's 350th birthday, used the palace as a further location for his art collection and special exhibitions and made it accessible to the public. The Ministry of Finance has returned the premises for their own use at the end of October 2017 as requested. In 2018, the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene was be the venue for the Brexit negotiations during Austria's EU Council Presidency.

 

 

 

 

 

Historical function

Winter Palace of Prince Eugene was the main residence of the successful general. Here was kept the largest parts of the famous collections of the master of the house, including the exceptionally extensive library. The city palace served above all also representative purposes. Prince Eugen exercised high-ranking functions of the Habsburg monarchy, - among other things he was 1703-1736 President of the Hofkriegsrates and 1714-1724 formally governor of the Austrian Netherlands. Therefore, he had to give appropriate receptions and audiences.

In terms of urban planning, the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene is a special feature, as Prince Eugen chose not a befitting building site for his residence - such as the Hofburg, which was even closer to Herrengasse - but the narrow, less spectacular Himmelpfortgasse. After his arrival in Vienna, the successful general did not have his own apartment and lived in the home of the then Spanish Ambassador. From autumn 2013 to October 2017, the state rooms of the building under the name Winterpalais were part of the Austrian Gallery Belvedere.

 

 

History
The first property purchases were documented in 1693 and 1694; Several older houses and an early baroque theater hall were included in the area. In 1697, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach commissioned Prince Eugen to build a seven-axis palace; its construction manager was Andrea Simone Carove. The stonemason order was given to Johann Thomas Schilck, with family contacts to both Eggenburg and Kaisersteinbruch. Planned marriages had secured these two stone mason centers near Vienna on business. So these two types of stone determine the palace.

The large portal with the side reliefs (left: Hercules fighting the giant Antaeus; right: Aeneas saves his father from the burning Troy) is made from Kaiserstein, sculptor was Lorenzo Mattielli. The remarkable staircase, the steps from Kaiserstein, with the atlantic figures, which serve as supports instead of columns, also comes from this construction phase. In the center is a resting Hercules, above whom the profile portrait of the prince forwards to the oil painting by Louis Dorigny with the depiction of "Apollo in the sun carriage" (1710/11). The sculptures made of Zogelsdorfer stone in the staircase were created by Giovanni Giuliani. Deliveries from the Kaisersteinbruch were made by Master Reichardt Fux. The most important room still completed under the direction of Fischer von Erlach is the so-called Red Salon, the former audience room. Here the painters Marcantonio Chiarini (quadrature) and Andrea Lanzani (figures), who were called to Vienna in 1697, painted the "Admission of Hercules to Olympus".

In 1702 the construction was taken over by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. During this phase, some state halls were created, especially the gold cabinet with an oil painting by Solimena as the center. After Prince Eugen acquired the adjoining house to the east, the facade was expanded in 1708 to twelve axes. Stonemasonry was provided by the Kaisersteinbrucher masters Giovanni Battista Passerini and Elias Hügel.

During the last restoration, a sala terrena with grotesque paintings by Jonas Drentwett was discovered next to the vestibule. This space, which has been used for filing for decades, is not mentioned in the sources. However, since the "Histoire" depicting "Histoire" in the middle of the window wall also includes "Höchstätt" among the battles fought by Prince Eugen, the frescoing can be dated to 1704.

Around 1710 the house chapel and a gallery, which are no longer preserved, were installed. The central representation room, the so-called Blue Salon with frescoes by Marcantonio Chiarini and Louis Dorigny, also dates from this period. In 1719, through the acquisition of the house to the west, the front was widened to seventeen axes, which were used to install the library. Stone carvings again provided Elias Hügel. Lorenzo Mattielli designed the gate reliefs and the wall fountain in the courtyard.

Prince Eugene died in 1736. His niece Anna Viktoria von Savoyen, who had been the princess of Saxe-Hildburghausen since April 17, 1738, became one of the richest persons in Europe as heir. (Her husband Joseph Friedrich von Sachsen-Hildburghausen served the Habsburgs as general and military administrator.) She auctioned Eugene's property; the palace fell (like most of the other buildings of the prince) to the imperial court and, after a renovation by Pacassi in 1752, was the seat of various state institutions, since 1848 the Ministry of Finance.

As Hofärar, state property managed by the imperial family, the palace fell in 1918 when Old Austria collapsed to the republican German Austria that had been known as the Republic of Austria since 12 November 1918. The ministry has been known as the Federal Ministry of Finance since 1920.

The grand staircase narrowly escaped destruction on April 8, 1945. This Sunday, at 2 p.m., during the conquest of Vienna by the Red Army, Soviet planes attacked the inner city. A bomb went through the roof of the palace and exploded in the attic. The ceiling painting by the French painter Louis Dorigny was damaged, but could be restored by experts from the Academy of Fine Arts.

From 2007 to 2013, the city palace was completely renovated on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Finance. In autumn / winter 2019/2020, the coalition negotiations between the ÖVP and the Greens to form a new federal government took place here, often reported on television.