The imperial villa stands on the opposite bank of the Ischl River
in the large Austrian resort of Bad Ischl. It is located about 700
meters from the main train station. This exquisite building has gone
down in history as the summer residence of the Austro-Hungarian
Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife, the famous Empress Elizabeth,
known as Sisi.
It was originally a rather modest structure in the simple Biedermeier style, considered an offshoot of German Romanticism. It belonged to an ordinary Viennese notary until in 1853 the mansion was bought by the Archduchess Sophia, the mother of the emperor, who presented the future villa to her son as a wedding gift. Then began large-scale work to rebuild the structure.
Now the imperial villa is made in a neoclassical style. In its shape, it resembles the letter "E". Of particular note is the building's main portal, decorated with powerful columns and an exquisite tympanum on the pediment.
On the territory of the villa there was a luxurious park in the English style, the so-called "landscape park". It is notable for the absence of carefully calibrated symmetry, in other words, trees and shrubs in a park of this kind are allowed to grow as in natural conditions. Also in the park were installed marble fountains and a monument to Emperor Franz Joseph.
The crowned spouses themselves stayed here almost every summer. Even after the tragic assassination of Sisi, the Dowager Emperor did not stop visiting Ischl until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. In addition to the imperial family itself, other politicians, noble nobles, and also artists were often found here.
Now the imperial villa is a private property - it belongs to Archduke Markus, one of the last representatives of the Habsburg family. But despite this, some of its premises and luxurious gardens are open for tourists.
History and layout
The building at the foot of the Jainzenberg was originally a Biedermeier style villa, which was built in 1834 by the Viennese notary Josef August Eltz. The doctor Eduard Mastalier bought it in 1850. After the engagement of Emperor Franz Joseph I to Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria in 1853, Franz Joseph's mother, Archduchess Sophie, acquired the property as a wedding present for the imperial couple.
In the following years, the villa was built according to designs by Anton (io) L Limiti (* 1804, † March 30, 1858), the k. k. first personal valet of Franz Joseph I, rebuilt and expanded in neoclassical style. The already existing central wing was expanded on the park side, which turned the original rear of the house into a representative entrance with classical columns and tympanum. In addition, two side wings were created, which gave the entire structure the shape of an "E", which indicates a possible homage by the client to his wife.
The villa is surrounded by an extensive English-style park. The park, the Marmorschlössl - which has housed the Photo Museum of the Upper Austrian State Museums since 1978 - and all the outbuildings were designed by the court gardener Franz Rauch. The Marmorschlössl served as a cottage (retreat) for Elisabeth. The entire ensemble in its present form was not completed until 1860, as construction was not allowed in the summer months due to the presence of the imperial family. The white marble fountain in front of the central wing was created by Viktor Tilgner in 1884. The entire Jainzenberg also belonged to the imperial estate, there were walking paths and viewpoints here, but there was also hunting.
The emperor spent a few weeks in this little summer palace almost every summer. Numerous crowned heads of this time were once guests in the Kaiservilla and almost every year Franz Joseph celebrated his birthday here in Bad Ischl on August 18th. On July 28, 1914, in his study in the west wing of the house, he signed the fatal declaration of war on Serbia (and on the same day the well-known manifesto To My Peoples!), Which subsequently developed into the First World War, which led to the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy. Emperor Franz Joseph died in 1916 and bequeathed the property to his youngest daughter, Archduchess Marie Valerie. She was married to Archduke Franz Salvator from the Austria-Tuscany line, so the property remained in the Habsburg family. Since the imperial villa was privately owned by the Habsburgs and Franz Salvator and Marie Valerie renounced all claims to the throne, the property remained in their possession even after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (1918). Her son Hubert Salvator Habsburg-Lothringen inherited the villa. The current owner is his son Markus Emanuel Habsburg-Lothringen.
The Kaiservilla Bad
Ischl complex, which includes the Kaiservilla and its park, as well
as the Kaiservilla kitchen building (office), the former gardener's
house (nursery), the marble castle, and the buildings of the Upper
Austrian Photo Museum and the regional music school, are listed as
historical monuments. The park is well preserved in its original
condition from early historicism, is one of the most important
garden architectural monuments in Austria and is explicitly under
monument protection as such (No. 24 in the appendix to Section 1,
Paragraph 12 of the DMSG).
The villa and park are open to the public during the summer months and temporarily in winter. The Kaiserpark was an official part of the exhibition grounds during the Upper Austrian State Horticultural Show 2015, which carried the motto "... the emperor's new gardens".