Hofburg Wien

Imperial palace vienna

The site

The Hofburg Wien is a building complex which used to serve as the imperial residence of the Habsburgs. Today, it is used as the official seat of the Austrian Federal President. There has been hardly any other place where political, economic and military history of European significance has been forged to the extent this has been the case for the Hofburg Wien throughout its 700 years of existence.

Numerous changes in the political, economic and religious understanding of the different rulers have left their marks on the building history as well as European architectural trends. Not only the Habsburgs but also the Republic of Austria have attached considerable importance to this building complex comprising more than 24 ha, inclusive of 18 wings, 19 courtyards and 2600 rooms and halls; a fact which is underlined by the good condition of the building substance. The area of the Hofburg when defined as the area administered by the Vienna Court Building Department is bound by the Albertina Museum situated in Augustinerstraße Street, the Stallburg (imperial stables) situated in Stallburggasse Street, the Federal Chancellery situated at Ballhausplatz Square, the national theatre Burgtheater in Universitätsring Street, the court stables (today’s Museum Quarter) and the State Opera in Opernring Street.

The Hofburg complex houses 5 museum organisations (Albertina Museum, Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History), Naturhistorisches Museum (Museum of Natural History), Austrian National Library and Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H) accommodating 61 collections and 9 museum institutions which keep outstandingly valuable pieces. Furthermore, the Hofburg complex comprises the Spanish Riding School, the collections of the National Library of Austria, the ceremonial rooms in the Presidential Chancellery Wing and other administrative areas of the Austrian Federal Administration (such as the Federal Chancellery, Federal Monument’s Office and the Burghauptmannschaft Österreich).

The site has been used as business premises, offices and apartments by numerous tenants so that the Hofburg complex counts, in fact, more than 2200 users. The building complex is owned by the Republic of Austria represented by the Burghauptmannschaft Österreich. Being a subordinate department to the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy the latter carries out the tasks incumbent upon the owner on its behalf (incl. of maintenance, rent and lease and invoicing).

The relevance

Ever since its creation around 1240 (according to latest findings), the building complex of the Hofburg has been important both for Austrian and European history. On the one hand, its significance is due to its role as a constant seat of governments and emperors, as the target of failed Ottoman expansion, as the point of depart of the counter-reformation, as the target of Napoleon’s multilateral policy and as the place where Europe’s frontiers would be redefined after the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815). On the other hand, it is due to its relevance of a multi-ethnical capital and a multi-religious empire which – as such – anticipated many of the goals and ambitions of the European Union.

As testified by numerous conferences and congresses as well as meetings of European and international politicians which have been held in the Hofburg Wien, the Hofburg has not ceased to be a centre of action, where Europe would be shaped and further developed even after the end of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Throughout a period of 100 years, the Habsburg residence in Vienna would be transformed into one of the most incredible exhibition centres worldwide (e.g. Museum Quarter): 16 museums, three churches, one of the most important libraries in the world, one congress centre for international meetings and ceremonial halls where balls take place testify to the democratic reinterpretation of the former imperial government district. This is also expressed by the fact that the President of the Republic of Austria has his offices there. Counting 18 wings, 54 stairs, 19 courtyards and 2600 rooms and halls, the Hofburg area is one of the world’s largest mundane residence districts. In combination with the Museum Quarter, the area of the Hofburg counts more than 500,000 square metres. It is, therefore, one of the biggest cultural sites as well.