Visiting the Belvedere Vienna you can happily lose yourself in fine art and beautiful landscaping. While the palace and baroque gardens alone are worth a visit the Belvedere’s Austrian National Gallery impresses with 1,000 years of national art. Below I’m sharing my personal notes of what to see and do at the Belvedere.
The Palace And Baroque Gardens
To begin with, the Belvedere shines a bright light on the financial merits of Imperial star commander Prince Eugene of Savoy. After his victories in the Siege of Vienna and the Spanish War of Succession he built the Belvedere in the first half of the 18th century. That was 18 years after buying the Winter Palace in Himmelpfortgasse.
In brief, the Belvedere mixes palatial glamour and baroque gardens with delicate sculptures, fountains and Alpine plants.
Highlights Of The Upper Belvedere
To point out the Belvedere’s center piece: On the first floor, the brown-white-gold Marble Hall boasts a vast oval ceiling. Up there, celestial beings in flowing pastel garments hover over glitzy chandeliers and gazing tourists. Almost as spectacular is the fact that the Hall itself stretches over two levels.
As much distraction as that Hall may represent, do look out of the windows across the long stretch of baroque gardens right down to the Lower Belvedere.
In like manner, the Carlone Hall simply dazzles: Its three dimensional frescoes covering the walls and ceilings open up the baroque universe: well nurtured ladies in flowing garments, hyper-toned males in acrobatic poses, and two dozens of chubby cherubs spilling water out of amphoras, some holding blankets and flower baskets.
Literally, I can only scratch the surface describing the palace, let alone the Austrian National Gallery. With the help of passionate art historian you can get real insight into that baroque masterpiece and use the Gallery to get a better picture about Austrian identities. Prepare to have fun with Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s baroque character heads!
Highlights Of The Lower Belvedere
Belvedere Vienna. While the Upper Belvedere represents the main palace, the Lower Belvedere is the older of the two buildings.
Originally, Prince Eugene of Savoy used the Lower Belvedere to receive guests in the marble hall, and to accommodate his and his guests’ horses in the stables. Until the Upper Belvedere was finished, he lived in the Lower Belvedere.
From the outside, that garden palace looks only slightly more modest. As you set foot into it, the Gold Cabinet‘s gold plated and mirrored walls will prove otherwise. By the same token, the Grotesque Hall boasts rich ornaments, and the marble hall displays delicate white reliefs and amazing baroque sculpture.
Next to the Grotesque Hall, the Orangery stretches out, with stone floors and high large windows that flood the room with light. Usually you will find good temporary exhibitions in that place.
If you like medieval art, visit the Palace Stables‘ collection of mostly sacred art from the Middle Ages, including winged altars, paintings of worship and medieval life, and wooden sculptures.
Baroque Gardens at Belvedere Vienna
As a matter of fact, the gardens of the Belvedere Vienna are among the the best baroque gardens in Austria, if not Europe. So much so that they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage. Not only do the gardens connect the Upper with the Lower Belvedere. But they host bold beautiful sculptures, neatly trimmed hedges and artful flower beds. To further break up the space the garden consists of three levels. Clearly, my favourite are the water cascades and fountains in the middle of the garden.
Next to the Lower Belvedere you will find the smaller and more private Chamber Garden (Kammergarten). In the summer, that patch brims with the most colorful flowers.
If you travel to Vienna between April and September, visit the Alpine Garden right next. In particular, that 19th century garden is Europe’s oldest of its kind and boasts more than 4,000 types of Alpine plants from all over the world. When I visited that little wooden bench and table just became free for the perfect 10-min break.
The Austrian National Gallery at the Upper Belvedere hosts a dozen collections of Austrian art. Since they span an era as vast as from the Middle Ages to the present there is no better place to get an overview of national art.
If you are short on time, focus on the most popular collections such as Gustav Klimt artwork, the largest collection worldwide. Actually, his painting The Kiss attracts almost as much attention as the Louvre’s Mona Lisa. What far fewer people know about are Franz Xaver Messerschmidt‘s hilarious baroque character heads. Once you are next to the 16 irresistibly funny baroque sculptures you will try to emulate their faces – have fun!
Other than that, expect some lovely romantic Biedermeier art of the 19th century, French Impressionists, and the expressionist collections of Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.
Belvedere Vienna: Tickets And Logistics
Location: Prinz-Eugen-Strasse 27, 1030 Vienna (Upper Belvedere/National Gallery/Klimt) Rennweg 6, 1030 Vienna (Lower Belvedere/contemporary exhibitions; state rooms)
Opening Hours:Upper Belvedere – daily 9.00 am to 6.00 pm; Friday 9.00 am to 9.00 pm; Lower Belvedere, Orangery – daily 10.00 am to 6.00 pm; Friday 10.00 am to 6.00 pm;
Tickets: EUR 24 for Upper and Lower Belvedere (adults); EUR 19.50 with Vienna City Card
Guided Tours: book small group tour
Public Transportation: tramway D (Upper Belvedere); tramway 71 (Lower Belvedere)
Just outside the center, Belvedere Vienna is located in the third district of Landstrasse. From the city centre to Lower Belvedere that is a 10 minutes walk. What’s more, staying close to the Belvedere Vienna means you will lodge in one of the oldest residential areas of Vienna.
Here are a few tips for hotels and holiday apartments close to the palace: Hotel am Konzerthaus, close to Lower Belvedere; Daniel Vienna, close to main entrance; Pakat Suites Hotel and PuzzleHotel Apartment Goldeggasse, both close to the side entrance of the Upper Belvedere.
Check the hotel map of the area.
If you love art, get more inspiration and tips what to see in Vienna Art