Hofburg Palace has been the heart of power in Vienna since 1279, so naturally it is rich with history that can’t be experienced anywhere else. Once the Habsburg’s winter residence, this massive palace complex now serves as the workplace and home of the President of Austria. However, visitors can still catch a glimpse of Hofburg Palace’s Imperial past; the richly decorated Imperial apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the lavish silver collections are all open to guests who want to understand the palace’s rich history.
Founded in 2004, the Sisi Museum is dedicated to the enigmatic Empress Elisabeth. The wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, Elisabeth (called Sisi) was an unconventional and spirited woman who never quite fit in to courtly society in the capital. During her life she was the object of fascination, rumour, and admiration, and after her tragic death by assassination in 1898, the myth of Sisi only grew. Featuring over 300 hundred objects, this museum gives guests an insight into her eventful life and death while dismantling the myth in order to reveal the woman underneath.
A lover of fashion, horseback riding, and travel, Sisi was known for her seemingly eccentric habits as well as her remarkable beauty; it’s said that it took two hours just to comb her ankle-length hair. Today, visitors to the Imperial Apartments can see her dressing room for themselves, where Sisi sat every morning at 6 a.m. to begin her beauty rituals. This room has been carefully preserved, along with the other apartments that served the Habsburgs for 600 years. From Emperor Franz Joseph’s grand staircase, to his study, audience chamber, and conference room, visitors can see for themselves where Hapsburg history happened.
The Imperial apartments also show the more personal side of the Habsburgs, including their bedrooms, salons, and even Sisi’s exercise room. Walking through these rooms gives guests an intimate look into the luxurious daily lives of the Habsburgs. One aspect of this was the elaborate dinners made possible by Hofburg Palace’s massive silver collections. Guests can see the remarkably preserved silver chamber, which dates back to the 15th century, to better understand the culture of courtly dining.
Hofburg Palace allows visitors a window into Austria’s Imperial past, giving guests the opportunity to understand the Habsburgs as people and rulers.