Wednesday, October 10, 2007
As promised, here are some more photos from my time in Vienna. These ones are all of the Belvedere Palace which is outside the Inner Stadt but is still well within walking distance, being just south-east of the city centre. This palace was built by Prince Eugen of Savoy who played a major role in defending Vienna and the surrounding lands from the Ottomans. He had victories in the Turkish Wars at the Relief of Vienna and at the Battle of Zenta. Napoleon quoted him as one of the seven generals whose campaigns were worthy of study in a tribute to his military skill. He is an extremely significant person in Austrian history and a monument to him is situated in the Heldenplatz.
'Belvedere' means 'Beautiful view' in Italian and indeed, the palace enjoys a stunning view over the city being on elevated ground. The palace gardens are extensive. They are enclosed by clipped hedging and were laid out in the formal French manner with gravelled walks and a number of fountains, together with a large pond in front of the Upper Belvedere. To the rear, there are stairs and cascades peopled by nymphs and goddesses that link the upper and lower parterres which survive from the original garden, but the patterned bedding was grassed over and is currently being restored. Despite this, the gardens were a pleasure to stroll around despite the blazing sun which threatened to scorch me, it was so hot!
The photo above is of the Lower Belvedere, which was built, not as a palace but as a garden villa, with an orangerie and paintings gallery, with suitable living quarters and was completed in 1716. The photo below is of one of the rooms inside which were all highly decorative and quite stunning. Unfortunately, most of the Lower Belvedere was closed to the public for restorative work but the parts I was able to see were magnificent including a wonderful gilded and mirrored room which used to be Prince Eugen's bedroom.
In 1720-1723, the Upper Belvedere, in the photo below, was built. It was originally intended to provide a suitable end to the main garden axis but it was soon enlarged to become the main summer residence of the Prince. Today, it houses a collection of paintings including many by Klimt with pride of place being given to 'The Kiss'. The central Marmorsaal was the site of the signing of the Austrian State Treaty, that formed modern Austria in 1955.
I spent an enjoyable few hours here, and simply had to sample the Belvedere Torte that was a specialty of the cafe there. I am happy to report that it was suitably rich, chocolatey and had a thin layer of moist marzipan covering it. I would be interested to see what the Belvedere is like once the gardens and Lower Palace have been restored so I guess I will just have to go back sometime. Life can be sooooo hard sometimes!
I still have more photos of Vienna to share so there is more to come.