The Hofburg, or imperial palace, the old residence of the Habsburg family, has never stopped being extended. Each generation has left its mark there since the 13th century. A rich catalogue of different times, the imposing complex consisting of 2,600 rooms in 18 buildings covers almost 0.09 square miles. Today the centre of the Austrian Republic's presidential residence, this building opens its doors to the public. The 22 imperial apartments and official rooms are compulsory for a first visit. Once you have ascended the great imperial staircase, you reach the living quarters of emperor Franz Joseph 1st and his wife, the Empress Elisabeth. Each room, furnished in accordance with the times, retraces their authentic lifestyle. At the beginning of 2004, the Empress's wash and bath rooms were restored. As well as sports apparatus (suspended rings, wall bars...) there are toilet articles and family photos there. The bathroom has a bath in galvanised copper, which contrasts with the flowery wall coverings. It comes out onto the two "Bergl rooms", which are accessible to visitors. Their nickname comes from paintings by Johann Bergl, who in 1766 painted exotic landscapes enlivened by exuberant fauna and flora. A visit to the museum "Sisi - myth and reality", completely dedicated to the sovereign's personality, is included in the visit. It can be accessed with the same ticket, which also authorises a visit to the Court collection of silverware. This collection, which goes back to the 15th century, has items of everyday use and various crafted items: dinner services in silver and porcelain, but also in bronze gilt, crystal, candlesticks in silver gilt, and serviettes measuring ten square feet with complex folding that is still a secret today. The duck-press invented by the Christophe firm in Paris to extract the juice from meat (that the Empress drank) is also shown.
It is now more or less a city within a city.© SKB / Edgar Knaack
Since the 13th century, each successive generation has left its mark here.© BmobV / Gerald Schedy
The imposing complex now boasts 2,600 rooms in 18 buildings that cover an area of 240,000 m˛.© SKB / Edgar Knaack
It is now the official seat of the Austrian Federal President.© EASYVOYAGE