Belvedere Palace History

Belvedere Palace History | A Journey through Baroque Grandeur

Belvedere Palace, located in Vienna, Austria, is renowned for its rich history and stunning Baroque architecture. Built by Prince Eugene of Savoy between 1714 and 1723, it originally served as his summer residence. Designed by the architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, the palace consists of two main buildings: the Upper and Lower Belvedere, connected by a beautiful garden adorned with sculptures and fountains.


Throughout its history, Belvedere Palace has housed various artworks and collections, including the world-famous Gustav Klimt paintings, such as "The Kiss," now displayed in the Upper Belvedere. Today, it stands as a testament to the grandeur of Baroque art and architecture and remains a prominent cultural landmark in Vienna.

Belvedere Palace Timeline

1712: Architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt commissions the construction of the Lower Belvedere Palace, marking the beginning of Belvedere Palace’s History

1717: After the Lower Belvedere is finished, the construction of Upper Belvedere's building starts. 

1736: Prince Eugene dies at City Palace in 1736 without leaving a will and Princess Victoria, his niece, inherits the palace.

1752: The estate of Belvedere passes to Empress Maria Theresa, the only woman to rule Austria.

1770: The wedding of Louis XVI and Maria Antoinette, the daughter of Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa, takes place at the Belvedere Palace.

1781: The Picture Gallery in the Upper Belvedere opens, becoming the world's first public museum.

1896: The Upper Belvedere museum is closed and renovated to serve as the principal residence of Franz Ferdinand - the throne’s heir. 

1912: The most renowned paintings and artworks from Austria are housed in the Austrian Gallery.

Construction of the Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace's history begins with its construction in Built between 1712. It was built as a luxurious summer home and a monument to Prince Eugene of Savoy's military achievements. The building was designed by famous architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. The palace is the best example of Baroque architecture. It features curved lines, lavish facades, and intricate ornamentation. The Upper Belvedere, Lower Belvedere, and Belvedere Gardens comprise the Belvedere Palace complex.


The complex included magnificent gardens, expansive rooms, and lavish interiors with statues and murals. The Kiss' by Gustave Klimt is one of the famous artworks housed in the Upper Belvedere. Additionally, temporary exhibitions featuring Austrian and foreign artists are also held at the Lower Belvedere Palace. 

History of Belvedere Palace

Construction Work

Prince Eugene of the Habsburg dynasty ordered the construction of the Belvedere Palace in the year 1712. The job was assigned to the architect Johann Lukas von Hilderbrandt, who was a student of the renowned Italian architect, Carlo Fontana. Johann chose the heart of the city to build the palace as it was going to be the summer residence of the prince. Baroque-style architecture was extremely popular during that era, which is why, following the trend, the Belvedere Palace was also constructed using the same architectural designs. Johann first constructed the Lower Belvedere and then added lavish gardens to it, finally completing the palace by 1717. 

Upper Belvedere Construction

The construction of the Belvedere Palace started right after the construction of the Lower Belvedere, in 1717. To enhance the appearance of the palace, Prince Eugene hired a famous Italian painter, Francesco Solimena, to create an altarpiece for the Chapel and frescoes for the ceiling of the Golden Room. In the year 1721, the prince recruited another Italian painter and engraver, Carlo Carlone to paint frescoes for the Marble Hall. After all the decorations, paintings and intricate details, the Upper Belvedere was finally completed in the year 1923. 

Prince Eugene Passes Away

At the age of 72 years, Prince Eugene unexpectedly passed away in his sleep on 21st April 1736. Since it was a sudden death, there was no kind of will regarding his belongings and properties. To solve this, Roman Emperor Charles IV called for a commission in which it was decided that all the possessions of Prince Eugene would be given to his niece, Princess Victoria. In 1744, Princess Victoria got divorced after which she left Vienna along with all her possessions and moved to Turin. Yet again, there was no one to take care of the Belvedere Palace so Maria Theresa, daughter of Charles IV, bought the palace under her name. 

Empress Maria Theresa’s Reign

In the history of Belvedere Palace Maria Theresa was the only woman to rule the palace. Even though the palace belonged to Maria, she did not move to the palace, making the royal structure purposeless. In order to sustain the importance of the palace, Maria started hosting important events such as weddings and masquerade balls. She even ordered the transformation of the Lower Belvedere into a gallery to honour the members of the Habsburg dynasty. This is how the Royal Summer Palace turned into one of the most famous art museums in the world. 

World’s First Museum

During the French Revolution, the kingdom suffered a huge crisis when the royal family started fleeing to Vienna to save themselves. At that time, the picture gallery in the Lower Belvedere was replaced by a refuge centre, while the entire gallery was being shifted to the Upper Belvedere. In these severe situations, Empress Maria thought of reminding the localities of her family’s history by opening the Imperial Picture Gallery for the general public. Finally, after all the discussions, the gallery opened for the first time to the public in the year 1781, however, it did not last long as a majority of the pieces were shifted to Serbia. 

Home of Franz Ferdinand

After the precious collection of the Imperial Picture Gallery was shifted to Serbia, the gallery was shut down. Later, Emperor Franz Joseph I passed down the Belvedere Palace to his heir, Franz Ferdinand who was his nephew. The new heir, Franz Ferdinand made quite a few changes to the palace, the most important being the re-opening of the gallery in the year 1903. It was named the Modern Gallery which displayed the finest works of Austrian artists dedicated to the era of Modernism. 

Architecture of the Belvedere Palace

Built and designed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, the Belvedere Palace is a one-of-a-kind structure that attracts roughly around 1.5 million visitors annually. The palace has stunning intricate detail works, huge windows, and a long stretch of lush green gardens and is undoubtedly one of the best examples of Baroque-style architecture in the world. Built in the year 1717, the palace is divided into two sections, namely, the Upper Belvedere and the Lower Belvedere. 


The palace has been designed carefully, offering ample ventilation, light and mesmerising views of the city. Designed by Dominique Girard, a famous landscape designer, the mesmerising garden of the palace consists of trees, symmetrical flower patterns, water basins, trimmed hedges, steps, fountains and sculptures. Inside the palace, you will get to witness awe-inspiring frescoes enhancing the beauty of the palace ceilings. The palace also includes grand staircases, breathtaking and spacious halls, beautiful paintings by renowned artists and statues. 

FAQs

What are some of the interesting facts about the Belvedere Palace's history?

The Belvedere Palace was constructed as a summer palace for Prince Eugene of the Habsburg dynasty. A popular fact is that the palace is renowned for having the best and the finest art collection in all of Austria. Another interesting fact about the Belvedere Palace’s history is that it almost got destroyed during World War II, majorly affecting the Marble Hall and the Lower Belvedere. However, right after the war ended, renovations were made to the palace, making its appearance more stunning than ever. 

When was Belvedere Palace built?

The construction of the Belvedere Palace started in the year 1712 with its first structure, the Lower Belvedere along with the gardens. It took almost 6 years to build the Lower Belvedere and the gardens, soon after which the construction for the Upper Belvedere started in the year 1717. The palace was finally completed with all its structures, paintings, frescoes, gardens and detailed work in 1923. 

How old is Belvedere Palace Vienna?

The construction of the Belvedere Palace started between 1712 and 1717, making the palace around two centuries old. It is one of the most visited and prominent landmarks of Vienna, attracting almost 1.5 million tourists every year. 

Who were the architects of Belvedere Palace?

Prince Eugene assigned the job of constructing his dream summer palace to the architect, Johann Lukas von Hilderbrandt. He was a student of the renowned Italian architect, Carlo Fontana. Some of his most notable works include the Belvedere Palace, Schönborn Castle, the Mirabell Palace and the Episcopal Residence. 

Who commissioned the construction of Belvedere Palace?

Prince Eugene of the Habsburg dynasty commissioned the construction of the Belvedere Palace to Johann Lukas von Hilderbrandt, an Italian architect. The construction of the palace started with the Lower Belvedere in the year 1712 which was finally completed in 1717.

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