Results 1-10of 20 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
May 12, 2011
From journal Vienna at Christmas
by Joy S
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
July 26, 2010
From journal 4 Days in Vienna
July 23, 2010
by wanderer 2005
December 10, 2008
From journal Great Pizza in Vienna?
July 22, 2006
From journal A Few Days in Vienna
New Delhi, India
July 13, 2006
The tour of the Imperial Apartments includes both public and private rooms. Among the public rooms, the more prominent ones are:
1. The waiting room for subjects seeking an audience with the Emperor. Anybody from the Austro-Hungarian empire could meet the Emperor, the only stipulation being that they must be either formally dressed, or if they did not possess formal clothes, should wear national dress—a costume often adopted by peasants. The room, though not exceptional in itself, contains life size figures dressed in the national costumes of people from across the empire.2. The conference room, richly decorated in shades of greenish-blue. Although Franz Josef had somewhat simple tastes himself, this room, being a public one, is sumptuous.3. The Bergl rooms, immensely striking rooms named for the artist who painted them. The walls and ceilings of the rooms are covered with a continuous mural depicting exotic flora and fauna. It’s a sight to be seen.
The private rooms include the Emperor’s own bedroom and study, both low on luxury and decorated mainly with photographs and paintings of his wife and children. Franz Josef comes across as a home-loving and simple man, very different from his eccentric and flamboyant wife.
Sisi’s rooms (all gold and white stucco), which follow, are much more luxurious and almost act as an extension of the Sisi Museum. These chambers, which Sisi crowded with flower arrangements, contain original furniture, furnishings, fittings and displays, although her will, which lies on her desk, is a facsimile. You’ll see her bedroom and her bathroom, where she had installed Austria’s first bathtub. Incidentally, it used to take Sisi a full day to wash her ankle-length hair, and it used to be shampooed with a mixture of egg yolks and cognac. A hairdresser would spend 2-3 hours daily in dressing Sisi’s hair, and Sisi would spend the time in learning Greek from her tutor (other than German and Greek, Sisi was also fluent in English, French and Hungarian).
As part of Sisi’s rooms, you’ll also get to see the wooden gymnastics equipment Sisi used to keep in shape (and boy, was she in shape: at 5’9", she had a waist of 20"!) Unlike her husband, Sisi does not appear to have been particularly attached to either her spouse or her children: portraits and other reminders of these people are conspicuous by their absence. Instead, Sisi’s rooms are more full of pictures of her own siblings and other family from Bavaria.
All in all, the Hofburg palace complex is worth a visit. It offers a fairly in-depth view of the Imperial household, and is definitely worth every cent you spend on it.
From journal Vienna Rolls--And Rocks!
Elisabeth met her cousin Franz Josef when she was 15, and he fell head over heels in love with her (a love that lasted through his life, even though it doesn’t seem to have been reciprocated: Sisi admitted to regretting her marriage). Sisi was wedded when she was 16, and faced initial problems adjusting to court life. She later blossomed into a self-assured young lady, one of the best horsewomen of her time, and a renowned beauty. However, despite a loving husband and a lavish lifestyle, Sisi was miserable and soon became a recluse, so obsessed with her own beauty that she would not permit herself to be photographed after she crossed the age of 30. She spent much of her time writing poetry or travelling (especially to Corfu, where she owned a villa), and it was on one of her travels—to Geneva—that she was assassinated.
The Sisi Museum presents the life of Sisi through various means, most prominently her own possessions. You’ll see here her gloves; the shoes she wore as a child, and a pair she wore for her silver wedding anniversary; a medicine chest; a parasol; a fan of heron feathers and ivory; and a metal vase with porcelain roses, gifted by Franz Josef when she was his fiancée. There is, on display, Sisi’s wedding announcement, a steel engraving; and a copy of the white, green and gold dress she wore at the ball before her wedding. There are replicas of her jewellery, each piece crafted especially by Swarovski. These include the famous 28 `diamond stars’ that Sisi often wore in her ankle-length hair. Sisi’s obsession with beauty comes through emphatically. Items from her beauy kit—such as her brushes—are on display, alongside her riding whip and spurs. Her beauty treatments are touched upon, as well: at night, to maintain her complexion, she wore a leather mask underlaid with slices of raw veal (other lotions, based on rose petals or strawberries, were perhaps more conventional).
There are photographs, especially of her siblings; and there are some famous portraits of Sisi by artists such as Winterhalter and Georg Raab. There are excerpts from the Sissi trilogy (starring Romy Schneider); the dagger with which Sisi was stabbed; and Sisi’s death mask.
Unlike the bright and airy Silberkammer, the Sisi Museum is a bit like the Empress herself: touching but rather gloomy. An excellent insight into a turbulent life; an extremely poignant introduction to a woman who had been in a position both enviable and pathetic.
The tour begins with the Silberkammer- a misnomer, since there’s also porcelain, glassware, crystal, and table linen. Spread out in glass cases across a series of rooms, the collection once formed an important part of the Imperial household’s possessions- vast quantities of silver even went with the emperor on campaigns, holidays, and hunting expeditions.
As you progress, you’ll see dishes, kitchen utensils, even handwritten recipes, menu cards and shopping lists from the Imperial kitchens. You’ll see Maria Theresa’s personal cutlery (of solid gold); a set of `duck squeezers’ used to extract meat juices, which were boiled for Sisi’s consumption (she was obsessed with dieting); and an Oriental-pattern dinner service made for Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (Franz Josef’s brother; he never used the service, since he was executed by Benito Juarez before it could be shipped overseas).
Among the highlights of the Silberkammer are:
1. The 4,500 piece, 1,100 kg Grand Vermeil dinner service, of gilded silver. This dates back to when all courses (except soup and dessert) were served on silver; porcelain was considered too lowly. It wasn’t till the Napoleonic Wars- when Austria was so impoverished that even the Imperial silver was melted down into coin- that porcelain became fashionable.2. The table centrepieces that were used, with flowers, fruit and sweets, at banquet tables. One in particular- a gilded French ensemble- is 30 metres long and is a miniature tabletop Versailles, with its bowls, candelabras, and mirrors!3. The Minton set, lace-like and perfect in bright blue and white, which was gifted by Queen Victoria. Decorated in floral patterns and made by the Minton Porcelain Manufactories in Stoke, the porcelain was never used because it was so fragile.4. The Sèvres dinner service, complete with soup tureens, which were the first pieces to be decorated with the broad green ribbons that later became a hallmark of Sèvres.5. The sample table cover used when the Emperor would dine at a table- instantly identifiable by the `Imperial fold’ napkin. This intricacies of this fold were known to only a few select people, and was passed on by word of mouth- even today only two people know it; and even today, it’s only used if a visiting head of state is at the table.6. The `flower plates’ made especially for Franz Josef I, who was very fond of flora and fauna. On to each of these plates is painted, in painstaking (almost botanically perfect) detail, a species of flower.
It’s all very fascinating, and the commentary’s highly informative. The Silberkammer- and Hofburg as such- is open daily from 9 to 5, going up to 5.30 in July and August.
May 22, 2006
From journal Vienna Getaway
April 1, 2006
From journal Vienna - City of Music and Culture