Friday, August 12, 2011

Vienna: the Hofburg

Now, the quick way to the Hofburg complex from Stephansdom is to walk back up Graben, turn left into Kohlmarkt and then walk through the Spanish Riding School building. But no. We went the long way round. (Not intentionally!)

This is the other side of the Spanish Riding School, with the Austrian National Library.

I loved the quadrigia at the top.

Outside the butterfly house, Chloe spotted a man dressed as a tomato.

And then we reached the imperial apartments.

We queued up to visit the silver collection (Silberkammer) and the imperial apartments. The silverware was fascinating and I was surprised to learn that as late as the 19th century the court only ate off porcelain dishes for soup and dessert; the rest of the time they ate off silver plates.

The table centrepieces were astonishing, and one was ten metres long! (Obviously this is only a bit of it.)

In the Sisi museum we learned that Empress Elisabeth had ankle-length hair; it took 3 hours every day to dress her hair, during which she studied languages. (Washing it in eggs and cognac took a whole day.) She was tiny, with a a 20-inch waist. Her coronation gown was gorgeous, as were the replicas of her jewels. (We loved the ‘Sisi stars’ in her hair. Later in the week I couldn't resist a necklace.)

The Royal apartments were very revealing; Franz Joseph was clearly a real family man and had very simple tastes (nothing gaudy or over-luxurious). Apparently his working day started at 5am - at the same time as his wife's beauty routine. No photographs were allowed, sadly, as the dining room was stunning. Just outside it was one of the ceramic heaters used rather than coal fires (very modern, I thought).


Heidi Rice said...

Wow, what an amazing place and thanks for all the fascinating facts Pam....

But have to say I loved the picture of the Tomato Man best! All that pomp and circumstance and then.... A man dressed as a tomato! Monty Python lives on!

Kate Hardy said...

Heidi - glad you're enjoying the pics and the, ahem, nerdy stuff. LOL on the Pythonesque bit. Yup. Herrings and shrubberies get mentioned at random moments on most days in this house. (I think we might just have to have a film day next week...)

Sharon Kendrick said...

Who is the Elisabeth who was found dead at Mayerling with her lover? Their corpses were driven back to Vienna in a carriage - but sat up to look as if they were still alive! Can you imagine if someone tried that nowadays?!

Lacey Devlin said...

I'm fascinated by Elisabeth's hair and the three hours it took to dress it!